Blog Archive

Arpita Shah, Maryam Wahid, Nilupa Yasmin & Caroline Molloy
Online Symposium

10th September
6pm – 8pm
£3 (plus booking fee)

This online event follows on from GRAIN and The New Art Gallery Walsall’s collaboration on the exhibition ‘Too Rich A Soil’ which opened on the 15th November 2019 and closed early due to lockdown. The exhibition presented new work that dealt with themes of identity and representation, from three British artists’ of South Asian descent, Arpita Shah, Maryam Wahid and Nilupa Yasmin.  This session, originally intended to be a face to face symposium has been rescheduled as an online event.  Each artist will have the opportunity to share a selection of their practice and contribute to crucial conversations about the politics of representation.

The event is organised by GRAIN in collaboration with The New Art Gallery Walsall and will be chaired by academic Caroline Molloy. Places must be booked in advance and there is a small fee of £3.00 to attend.

Book your tickets here.

Arpita Shah

Arpita Shah is a photographic artist based in Edinburgh, Scotland. She works between photography and film, exploring the fields where culture and identity meet. As an India-born artist, Shah spent an earlier part of her life living between India, Ireland and the Middle East before settling in the UK. This migratory experience is reflected in her practice, which often focuses on the notion of home, belonging and shifting cultural identities. Shah’s work tends to draw from Asian and Eastern mythology, using it both visually and conceptually to explore issues of cultural displacement in the Asian Diaspora.

Maryam Wahid

Maryam Wahid (b. 1995) is an award winning artist. Using the art of photography, Wahid’s work explores her identity as a British Pakistani Muslim woman.

She expresses the origins of the Pakistani community in her hometown Birmingham (UK) by exploring her deeply rooted family history; and the mass integration of migrants within the United Kingdom. Her academic background in Art, Photography and Religious Studies alongside her fascination in cultural cognition and religious ideologies have progressively influenced her work. Her work is autobiographical but delves into human experiences and existence today. She is keen to photograph the complexity of places around the world and the places people call home.

Nilupa Yasmin

Nilupa Yasmin is a photographic artist based in Birmingham, West Midlands. Yasmin has a keen interest in the notion of culture, self-identity and anthropology, which she combines with her love for handcraft and photographic explorations, to repeatedly draw upon her own South Asian culture and heritage.

Her research examines the principles of craft in art based practice; becoming an evident methodology shown throughout her work whilst investigating ideals and traditions that are very close to home. Repeatedly drawing upon what it means to be a British Bangladeshi Muslim Woman, she aims to create a space of representation for the underrepresented, through her photographic practise. 

Caroline Molloy

Caroline Molloy is an artist, academic and writer. She is Programme Leader of Fine Art and Photography at UCA Farnham, alongside of which she is in the final stages of her PhD thesis that looks at the performance of transcultural identity in studio photography at Birkbeck, University of London. She has an MA in Visual Anthropology from Goldsmiths, and an MA in Photography from the Royal College of Art. Caroline is well read in post-colonial and decolonising theory; her research interests are in raising the audibility of the maginalised voice through the activation of archives. She regularly writes about photography and visual culture for Visual Studies, The Journal of Visual Practice, Source Magazine, 1000words and Photomonitor.


Friday 11th October 2019
9:30 am – 17:30 pm
Birmingham City University, The Parkside Building, B4 7BE

The State of Photography will consider, explore, debate and review how photographers and photography practice develops and responds in this political moment. How do we look at our world today, how do we collaborate and work with communities and what does the world look like to photographers?

We invite acclaimed and outstanding photographers, artists, writers and curators who work collaboratively and in the fields of community photography and socially engaged photography to join us, to give important historical context, to debate contemporary approaches and to talk about their practice at this time of political uncertainty, international crisis and creeping right wing ideologies. Each have different approaches to making their work, to engaging with individuals and communities and to telling stories. They have been artist, story teller, observer, collaborator, explorer and researcher.

Some collaborate closely with community members, marginalised groups and those with little or no opportunity to speak out, others offer a more external perspectives on social issues and situations. Does one offer a better more ethical way? Is it important to come from a community or do you become too involved? Is objectivity important? How do we ensure the engagement is sincere and does not exploit? And where does the artist and author feature in the work?

The role of photography is changing, particularly as work is commissioned and made for exhibition and gallery settings. Photography can impart the greatest truth of our times and sheds light on injustices, inequality and other aspects of our society. It has been and remains one of the strongest vehicles for change as photographers explore polities, gender, society, sexuality, diversity, economics and environment. It seems today – a time of political unrest, flux and crisis – more essential than ever to explore the role that photography can play.

During the Symposium we will hear from the perspective of the photographer, curator and academic. They share our concerns about the present and offer a diverse range of practices, experiences and stories that document the state of humanity and the world today.

The State of Photography Symposium aims to present new bodies of work, question and challenge ideas, as well as offering advice and talking about positive approaches to influence change, provoke, prompt and give a voice. We will hear from and celebrate those that create self-initiated projects and commissioned bodies of work and see a range of photographic practices that are at the cutting edge of photography now.

Speakers Include:


  • Concession: £18
  • Standard: £25
    *Please note prices include tea/coffee at registration but do not include lunch.Book your tickets here

Image Credit: Photography by Jonny Bark

The Portfolio Development Day was delivered at and in partnership with Multistory as part of BLAST! Festival, on Saturday 29th June at Wesley Methodist Church, 10am – 5pm.

During the morning our guest expert reviewers gave short presentations to advise on key features of portfolio & professional development, and in the afternoon there were opportunities for one to one portfolio advice and reviews.

Reviewers & Speakers

Anthony Luvera
Anthony Luvera is a socially engaged artist, writer and educator who has collaborated with people who have experienced homelessness in cities and towns across the United Kingdom for over fifteen years. The long-term collaborative projects he creates with homeless people and other community groups have been exhibited widely in galleries, museums and public spaces, including Tate Liverpool, London Underground’s Art on the Underground, British Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Belfast Exposed Photography, Australian Centre for Photography, PhotoIreland, Malmö Fotobiennal, Goa International Photography Festival, and Les Recontres D’Arles Photographie. Anthony is Principal Lecturer and Course Director of MA Photography and Collaboration at Coventry University. He also designs and facilitates public education programmes for the National Portrait Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts, The Photographers’ Gallery, Barbican Art Gallery, and community photography projects across the UK. 

Liz Hingley
Liz Hingley is photographer, anthropologist and curator working on multi-platform projects that explore systems of belief and belonging around the world. Her publications include the books Under God’ (Dewi Lewis, 2010), End of Lines, Shanghai (Be-Poles, 2013), Home Made in Smethwick (Multistory, 2016) and Shanghai Sacred (Washington University Press, 2018).  Her photographs and writings feature in global media publications such as Time, Le Monde, Financial Times, The Guardian, and New Scientist as well as in academic journals. Liz has received numerous awards including The Photophilanthropy Award, Prix Virginia and the Getty Grant. She is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham and University College London. Between 2013-16 she was based in China  as a Visiting Scholar of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. Liz is also a trustee as well as curator at SIDE in Newcastle, and is actively seeking documentary work to exhibit in the gallery. 

Niall Mcdiarmid
Niall’s work is about documenting the people and landscape of Britain. For the past 8 years, he has been travelling across the country building an archive of images with a distinctive style which show a changing population at this significant time.

Niall’s work is held by the National Portrait Gallery, Museum of London, Martin Parr Foundation and the Sir Elton John Photography Collection.

Sebah Chaudhry
Sebah Chaudhry is a Freelance Creative Project Manager. She is experienced in working at international world class festivals and events. She is currently Creative Producer on an international British Council funded project, The Place I Call Home, connecting the UK to the Gulf region, culminating in a series of exhibitions from September 2019 – March 2020. She has also just curated a show by Alina Kisina at Diffusion Festival in Wales.

From 2013 – 2017, Sebah was the Festival Coordinator at FORMAT Festival, the UK’s largest contemporary photography festival. She was a key member in the delivery of the biennale festival, working on exhibitions, events, the UK’s largest portfolio review and other FORMAT projects in the UK and internationally.

She has previously worked with Photo Beijing, Beijing; Unseen Platform, Amsterdam; Kasselfotobook Festival, Kassel; Fotofestiwal, Łódz; Rhubarb-Rhubarb, Birmingham; Dong Gang, South Korea and Fotofest, Houston.

Sebah is an avid networker and an advocate for the promotion of emerging artists, encouraging both artists and others to get involved in the art scene. Currently UK editor for, Advisory Board Member for 1623 theatre company and Steering Group member for FORMAT Festival, Derby.


Malcolm Dickson
Malcolm is a curator, writer and organiser. He is the Director of Street Level Photoworks, a leading photography arts organisation in Scotland – celebrating 30 years in existence this year – that provides artists and the public with a range of opportunities to make and engage with photography. He co-ordinates a programme which embraces different genres of photography which is extended through a network of local and community venues, regional art galleries, and through national and international partners. Recent exchange residencies have included cities such as Quebec City, Berlin, and Marseille, with further collaborations taking place in 2019 with Finland and Ireland. He runs the Photography Networks in Scotland platform which profiles exhibitions and events in photography across Scotland. Street Level is a lead partner in Scotland’s Season of Photography.

A former Senior Research Fellow at Dundee University, recent writings include the chapter ‘Slender Margins and Delicate Tensions: Projects by European Video Pioneers Stansfield/Hooykaas’ in the book ‘European Women’s Video Art’ (John Libbey Publications 2019).

Interested in viewing bodies of work in their early stages which impartial advice may help  ANDsubstantially developed bodies of work from artists and photographers, which blend experimental approaches, conceptual or issue based themes; social landscape work and new documentary; work that tells a compelling story; lyrical and narrative or abstract and non-narrative; photography based work that intersects with other media. Advice will be given on the basis of the work seen. No fashion or commercial work.


Photography by Emily Jones

In association with The Face of Suffrage you are invited to attend a short series of free public talks.

Wed 21 November at 6pm,  The Face of Suffrage artist Helen Marshall
Lloyds Room at Birmingham Hippodrome.  Lead artist of The Face of Suffrage Helen Marshall speaks about the project in Birmingham and her other collaborative projects nationally and internationally.

Wed 12 December at 6pm, Historian Dr Nicola Gauld
Lloyds Room, Birmingham Hippodrome.  Historian, writer and academic expert on the Suffragette movement Dr Nicola Gauld provides an overview of the Suffragist Campaign and a specific look at Birmingham and women’s stories.

Thurs 10 January at 6pm, Artists and Community Archivists Anand Chhabra and Geoff Broadway
Gowling Room, Birmingham Hippodrome.  Artists, Photographers and Archivists Anand Chhabra and Geoff Broadway talk about the community archives Apna Heritage and Living Memory and the role of women in archive histories and community photography archives.

The Face of Suffrage is a new large scale art installation created to celebrate 100 years of Votes for Women by Helen Marshall

The ‘Face of Suffrage’ artwork was a floor-based, 200 metre square photo mosaic consisting of more than 3,500 images of females from across the West Midlands.   It was located on the concourse of Birmingham New Street Station.  The artwork was made up of a combination of historical images, women involved in the Suffrage movement from the early 1900s, and from photographs made today by people that have photographed the women in their lives and wish to join in to commemorate and celebrate their stories.

This project was supported by Network Rail, Cross Country Trains, GRAIN Photography Hub, Arts Council England, LSE Women’s Library, Birmingham City University, Birmingham Hippodrome and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

GRAIN hosts evening talks given by artists and photographers, throughout the year, and in collaboration with its partners.

The talks are frequently programmed to coincide with the regional exhibitions, events and commissions.

We are delighted to host a talk by critically acclaimed artist and photographer Mahtab Hussain, at The New Art Gallery Walsall and in collaboration with Redeye Photography Network.

In Conversation, Mahtab Hussain with Tim Clark, Editor in Chief and Director of contemporary photography magazine 1000 Words.  

On Tuesday 14 August, 6.30 – 8.00pm, at The New Art Gallery Walsall.    Tickets £3.

In September 2016, Mahtab Hussain travelled to Kashmir; to the place that his parents had once called home.  He was able to meet members of his family for the first time and to witness the kind of life he may have lived had history taken a different turn.

Born and raised in Glasgow in the 1980s, Hussain like many others, experienced racism and discrimination.  He was frequently made to feel like he did not belong in Britain yet he knew no other home.   Hussain has developed an artistic practice which explores ideas of homeland, race, identity and cultural difference.  The exhibition at The New Art Gallery Walsall presents a powerful and poetic reflection on ideas of home, belonging and displacement.

For more information see  The New Art Gallery Walsall website and to book at place for the Talk call the gallery on 01922 654400.


To date we have been delighted to host talks by the following;

  • Mat Collishaw
  • Faye Claridge
  • Nathaniel Pitt and Donall Curtin
  • Tom Hunter
  • Sophy Rickett and Bettina von Zwehl
  • Bruce Gilden
  • David Birkett
  • Daniel Meadows
  • Simon Roberts
  • Andrew Jackson
  • Matthew Murray
  • David Hurn
  • Trish Morrissey
  • Guy Martin
  • Lua Ribeira
  • Liz Hingley


GRAIN is proud to continue to host a series of talks by artists and photographers.

The talks are programmed in collaboration with our project partners and are often planned to coincide with the regional exhibitions, events and commissions.

In collaboration with Coventry University Photography Department, GRAIN is pleased to announce three new Photographers’ Talks dates.

Trish Morrissey  

Thursday 22nd February 2018, 6pm – 7.30pm

Square One, The Hub, Coventry University, Priory St, Coventry CV1 5QP

£4.00 tickets – click here for tickets and more information

Guy Martin

Wednesday 7th March 2018, 6pm – 7.30pm

Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry

£4.00 tickets – click here for tickets and more information

Lua Ribeira

Wednesday 28th March 2018, 6pm – 7.30pm

mac, Birmingham

£4.00 tickets – click here for tickets and more information

To date we have been delighted to host talks by the following;

  • Mat Collishaw
  • Faye Claridge
  • Nathaniel Pitt and Donall Curtin
  • Tom Hunter
  • Sophy Rickett and Bettina von Zwehl
  • Bruce Gilden
  • David Birkett
  • Daniel Meadows
  • Simon Roberts
  • Andrew Jackson
  • David Hurn
  • Matthew Murray
  • Liz Hingley

Image Credit: Guy Martin, The Parallel State

GRAIN is delighted to be working in collaboration with Redeye again, this time on HOTHOUSE Birmingham.

A daylong celebration of photographic projects that have never been seen before, followed by a closing talk from Vanley Burke, the ‘Godfather of Black British photography’.

Hothouse arrives in Birmingham in November for a celebration of photographic projects, alongside a hub of photographic activity, delivered in association with GRAIN. Photographers are welcome to drop in for an hour or two, or stay for the whole event – but please register to be sure of getting a place. Visitors are welcome to bring their portfolio or photobooks for showing on the day.

Throughout the day there will be short presentations from photographers about their recent work and projects, plus ample opportunity for networking and portfolio review. During the lunch break there will also be the option to attend an informal workshop with the Arts Council England for Photographers currently looking for funding for projects.

Here is a full line up of the Photographers who will be presenting their latest projects.

10:30 – 11:30
Corinne Perry
Stewart Wall
Joanne Coates
Juliana Kasumu

12:00 – 13:00
Olli Hellmann
Evonne Bain
Melanie Letore
Jessa Fairbrother

14:00 – 15:00
Alison Baskerville
Mark Wright
Fabienne Viala & Jean-Francois Manicom 
Dimitri Haddad

The event culminates with a talk by Vanley Burke.

Vanley Burke:

Vanley Burke has been described as the ‘Godfather of Black British Photography.’ His iconic images have captured the evolving cultural landscape, social change, and stimulated debate in the United Kingdom over the past four decades. He draws strength from remaining closely connected to his community, and his personable character allows him to capture the intimate and private nature of people’s everyday lives. His body of work represents possibly the largest photographic record of the Caribbean Diaspora in Britain, and as an avid collector, Vanley continues to connect histories through his substantial archive housed at the Library of Birmingham. From local community organisations to the Victoria & Albert Museum and Whitechapel, Vanley has exhibited widely in the United Kingdom, and as far afield as New York, South Africa and China.

Vanley’s artistic enquiry is not simply limited to black and white documentary photography, as his eccentric rebellious nature lends itself to sculpture and painting, and crafting art that gives life a shape. His simple motivation has been the preservation of culture and history through creation, documentation, and discovery which often leaks into the private.


This event starts at 10:30 on 26 November until 16:30. Doors open at 10:00.


This event takes place at Glenn Howells Architects, 321 Bradford Street, Birmingham, B5 6ET. The venue is fully accessible.


This event is free but booking is essential. Please register via the link below. It is also possible to make a donation at the time of registering and this really helps us deliver more events.

Who is it for?

Whether you have a passion for new photography, want to find out about some exciting emerging photographers, or would like the opportunity to meet and network with photographers, enthusiasts and industry professionals, this event aims to have something for everyone. All participants are welcome to bring a portfolio on the day, find out more about that here.

To book tickets to this event, please sign in to your Redeye account; or become a member by joining Redeye; or simply subscribe to the Redeye website.

Image: Charlotte Jopling

To see more click here.

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Copyright 2016 GRAIN.