Commissioned by GRAIN, this multifaceted body of work was developed, over a period of 2 years, with HMP Birmingham (the largest, category B prison in the Midlands, UK), and in particular its inmates, their families as well as a myriad of other individuals and organisations (such as charities, colleges, universities and youth centres.)
Martins’ work uses the social context of incarceration to explore the philosophical concept of absence and address a broader consideration of the status of the photograph when questions of visibility, ethics, aesthetics and documentation intersect. By giving a voice to inmates and their families and address prison as a set of social relations, rather than a mere physical space, Martins proposes to rethink and counter the sort of imagery normally associated with incarceration.
His project, thus, wilfully circumvents images whose sole purpose, he argues, is to confirm the already help opinions within dominant ideology about crime and punishment: violence, drugs, criminality race – an approach that only serves to reinforce the act of photographing and photography itself as apotropaic devices.
Composed of three distinct segments, encompassing archive/new photography, text and sound, Martins’ work shifts between image and information, between fiction and evidence, strategically deploying visual and textual details in tandem so that the viewer becomes aware of what exists outside the confines of the frame.
This ambitious and thought-provoking project is now published as a beautiful, two-book publication, that includes a facsimile copy of an inmate’s journal, produced especially for this context, and carefully edited and appropriated by the artist.
In an excerpt from the journal, observed details accumulate to form a powerful way of figuring the dehumanising and life-denying force of the prison: ‘Sometimes all there is to do when you’re stuck on the wing is to lean on the thin high rails and watch what’s going on around you. That’s when I noticed thick grey fluff on a step. And more on another step. Then I noticed it at the edges of the floor and above me on the piping. It was on the top of the nuts and bolts and on top of the wires that made up the netting. It was everywhere and I had never noticed it before. The grey fluff had blended in with the grey clothing of the grey people that cast grey shadows on the grey walls. I suppose the ideal prisoner should be grey, dull and dismal in nature. THEY’VE CREATED THE PERFECT GREY SPACE HERE.’
WHAT PHOTOGRAPHY & INCARCERATION HAVE IN COMMON WITH AN EMPTY VASE contains over 500 pages, 130 photographs and documents and is supplied in a genuine prison bag, along with a surprise element.
This publication will support exhibitions of the work at Galeria Filomena Soares (Lisbon), Catharine Clark Gallery (San Francisco), the Macau Museum of Art (Macau, China), the Museum of National and Contemporary Art (Lisbon), the Geneva Photography Centre (Geneva), amongst others.
01 07 2019
GRAIN are delighted to be working with photographer Arpita Shah on a new
commission which will see the photographer work with South Asian women
across Birmingham and the West Midlands.
Shah’s project ‘Modern Muse’ will explore, represent and celebrate South Asian
female identity across the city and region. The series will visually and
conceptually explore the ever-shifting identities of South Asian women in
contemporary Britain and give an insight into the perspectives of what it means
to be a young British and Asian woman.
Shah would like to invite young South Asian women aged between 16-30 based
in Birmingham and the Midlands to be involved in the project, so if you’re
interested in getting more info please contact Arpita at: email@example.com
Arpita Shah is a photographic artist and educator 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 the
issues of cultural displacement in the Asian Diaspora.
Arpita’s work has been exhibited internationally, including at the Detroit Center of
Contemporary Photography (2013); Tramway in Glasgow (2014); Focus Festival in
Mumbai, India (2015); Chobi Mela IX in Dhaka, Bangladesh (2017); Autograph APB
in London (2018) and Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow (2019). She is also the
recipient of the 2019 Light Work + Autograph ABP Artist-in-Residence programme
which she will undertake in NY in September of 2019.
Image Credit – ‘Haseebah’ Modern Muse © Arpita Shah
14 05 2019
GRAIN Projects is seeking an Intern with an interest in contemporary photography, the visual arts, projects and events and participatory opportunities, linked to audience development and community engagement. This is a unique opportunity to work with GRAIN to develop your knowledge, skills and professional practice.
The individual should be ambitious and organised and interested in supporting the development and delivery of our programme. They should have the ability to work on their own initiative and be interested in working with people including practitioners, audiences and participants.
The applicant must have some knowledge of professional photography practice.
Responsibilities will include:
– Supporting the team in developing ideas for events and activities
– Assisting with events, commissions and artist development activities
-Admin and marketing tasks
-Research including interactive research
-Communicating with creatives, communities and audiences
The applicant will be selected based on the aforementioned skills rather than educational history or in-depth work experience.
This role will pay a fee of £1000, inclusive of all travel expenses. This is a part time role & will be roughly be 10 – 12 working days across the 6 months.
Location: Midlands. The Intern will be expected to work remotely and at a range of venues in Birmingham and the West Midlands dependent on the GRAIN programme of activities. Background and context GRAIN Projects is an arts organisation established to benefit the photography community and to reach and engage with new audiences and collaborate with participants. GRAIN works with national and international partners. We research, develop and deliver new, ambitious high-quality opportunities to strengthen photography in the region including commissions, exhibitions and a professional development programme. We develop opportunities for artists, audiences and participants and promote the sector nationally and internationally.
If you are interested in applying for this opportunity please email your cv, a letter of application outlining why you are interested in this opportunity and how you feel you would fulfil this role and a testimonial from a current project contract, employer, lecturer or similar. Please email to Nicola.firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline for this opportunity is 31 May 2019.
Please note applications must be provided in full as described above and no applications will be accepted after the deadline.
The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery 17th May – 22nd September 2019
Made in collaboration with local residents, Settling is an exhibition of pictures that tell the stories of people who have moved to Stoke-on-Trent from around the world. Stories include the life journey of World War Two veteran Walerian Tyminski, Pat Phillips the wife and business partner of a local artist, and Aida Haughton’s story on finding love in post-war Bosnia & Herzegovina.
The exhibition has two parts; The first is a projection of The Settling Archive and original photographs from contributor’s personal albums, digital versions of which will be gifted to the City Archives to preserve these stories. The second is Welcome Home, a series of diptychs by photographer Sam Ivin, made with contributors to the archive. Individuals own images are shown alongside a portrait created by Ivin, reflecting on the experiences that have bought them to Stoke-on-Trent. Audiences are also invited to share their own stories to the exhibition.
The exhibition is supported by GRAIN Projects, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Arts Council England.
Rugby Art Gallery & Museum, 7 May – 22 June 2019
Indre Serpytyte (b. 1983 in Palanga, Lithuania) is an artist living and working in London, UK. Serpytyte is concerned with the impact of conflict and war on history and perception. She works with photography, sculpture and installation.
GRAIN Projects commissioned Serpytyte to collaborate on research and make new work. This new project will be exhibited in partnership with Rugby Art Gallery & Museum.
It is estimated that throughout both World Wars, the Ministry of Munitions employed around a million female munitions workers in thousands of arms factories. These women played a crucial role in Britain’s strategy of “total war”. especially after Britain’s shell crisis in 1915 when there was a severe shortage of artillery shells on the front line. The women worked extremely long hours as production was focused on a 24-hour shift pattern with only one day off a week.
Using archive material from Midlands collections as well as from the Imperial War Museum Serpytyte has examined the relationship between widely publicised propaganda images of the female factory workforce, as part of a political project of moral boosting, and the images, accounts and ephemera that tell the largely hidden and forgotten story of the so-called ‘munitionettes.’ In her work she will look at the history of female work and life in the context of war, violence and political strategy as well as the home as a place of waiting, loss and a repository for memory and objects. Domestic objects on shelves and mantlepieces provided keep sakes as well as reminders of lives and death. Most unsettling are the vases made from spent ammunition shells, many of which were made by women in munitions factories, decorated by soldiers and sent home for ornamentation.
In her work Serpytyte will use these vases as a way to explore the complex relationship between domesticity, ornament, labour, class, gender, war and trauma. The work will explore the objects and materials of war.
Rugby Art Gallery & Museum
13th June | 12.30pm
The event is free & no need to book, join the artist in the gallery from 12.30pm.
Image credit: Photography by Jonny Bark
11 04 2019
Photography For Whom? is a new periodical focused on socially-engaged photography. Published biannually, Photography For Whom? seeks to shine light on significant yet overlooked work of the past and to generate debate about contemporary practice, by bringing writing and practice from the community photography movement back into circulation from sources which are out of print, largely unknown or difficult to access. Each issue presents a historic text alongside a newly commissioned piece of writing to foster critical consideration of socially-engaged photography today. www.photographyforwhom.com
Photography For Whom? is edited by Anthony Luvera and supported by GRAIN Projects and Multistory.
For more information and to purchase a copy of Photography For Whom? Please visit – photographyforwhom.com
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 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 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’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 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 thephotoexhibitionarchive.com, Advisory Board Member for 1623 theatre company and Steering Group member for FORMAT Festival, Derby.
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
11 03 2019
We are collaborating with the Lench’s Trust and photographers Kate Peters and Stephen
Burke on a new project.
GRAIN Projects is working with older people in three residential homes and in collaboration with the Lench’s Trust to engage with older people in Birmingham, using photography to celebrate and tell
stories of families, achievements and unique life stories. Through the collaboration with residents at
Lench’s Trust housing schemes in Quinton, Moseley, and Sutton the project will also tell the history
and story of Birmingham.
The project is being made possible by support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. ‘Celebrating Age’ has been awarded a grant of £5.500 which will enable the people’s photographs and stories to be developed as an archive, an exhibition and publication.
Everyone has a story to tell, and the project will provide a dynamic, visual story of people’s lives through portraiture and family archives. As well as workshops to share the participant’s photographs, keepsakes, memories and photo collections, photographer Kate Peters will be commissioned to create new portraits that celebrate age and commemorate the Lench’s Trust.
The visual heritage that is discovered and shared will include community histories, from the early
1900s through to the present day, with images of families, descendants, momentous occasions, small
personal moments, work, industry, weddings, birthdays, new homes, new babies, all celebrating the
residents and their homes in the city.
‘Celebrating Age’ is a partnership with the Lench’s Trust, generously supported by The National
Lottery Heritage Fund.
GRAIN is delighted to have awarded the FORMAT Festival Portfolio Award to Sophie Gerrard for her work ‘The Flows’. This is the third time GRAIN has awarded a special prize at Format International Photography Festival.
“The Flows (from the Norse ‘ floi’ meaning ‘flat, deep, wet land’) focuses on the gentle and undulating peatlands of the Flow Country, located in Caithness and Sutherland in the far north of mainland Scotland.
Peatlands are a globally rare habitat vital in combatting climate change. They cover only a tiny amount (3%) of the planet’s land surface, yet peatlands hold almost 30% of all terrestrial carbon – twice as much as all the world’s forests. Scotland contains a vast amount (13%) of this vital global resource, and the Flow Country is widely considered to be the largest expanse of blanket peat bog in the world.
Historically peatlands have been seen as empty and valueless wastelands, of little benefit to humans yet still forced into marginal production for the leanest of economic return. During the 1980s, the Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher offered tax incentives to the super rich, resulting in vast areas of the Flow Country being planted with non-native coniferous Sitka spruce which drained, damaged and ultimately killed large areas of the bog. Over 80% of the UK’s peatlands have been damaged by years of such mismanagement.
Survival of the peatlands is a touchstone for the environmental health of the nation. These almost magical places are now being painstakingly revived through conservation by the RSPB and their partners. Sophie Gerrard’s photographs look at how these natural resources fit into Scotland’s topography and consciousness, linking people to the land, and vice-versa.”
The Flows is showing in the Document Scotland group show Contested Land – Set against the current political backdrop Document Scotland’s four photographers examine the complex relationship between the nation’s people, history and landscape.
Perth Museum 23rd April -23rd June, 2019.
Launch event and talks 9th May 2019
Dunoon Burgh Hall, 20th July – 18th Aug., 2019.
Inverness FLOW Photofest, Sept., 2019.
PhotoNorth festival, 30 Nov. – 2nd Dec., 2019.
Sophie Gerrard (Scottish, b.1978) is an award winning photographer specialising in contemporary documentary stories with environmental and social themes.
Sophie began her career in environmental sciences before studying photography at Edinburgh College of Art followed by an MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at London College of Communication.
Her first major project, E-Wasteland was awarded a Jerwood Photography Award a Fuji Bursary and a Magenta Fast Forward Award. She has since been shortlisted and nominated for the Prix Pictet Award several years running and the 2015 Remote Photo Prize.
Sophie’s editorial and long term personal work has been published widely by clients including The Guardian, The New York Times, The Telegraph Magazine, FT Magazine, The Washington Post, Esquire Magazine, Foto8, The British Journal of Photography, Portfolio Magazine, Lucky Peach, Le Monde and many others.
Solo and group exhibitions include OFF_festival Bratislava 2018, The Scottish National Portrait Gallery (2015), Brighton Photoworks Biennial (2014), Impressions Gallery, Bradford (2014), Street Level Gallery (2014), Scotland House, Brussels (2014), Unseen Amsterdam (2013), Flowers East Gallery (2008), The Arbetes Museum (2008), Paris Photo (2008) and the Photographers’ Gallery (2012/13). Her work is held in a number of collections including St Andrews University Special Collection, The National Galleries of Scotland, Couttes Bank private collection, StatOil Collection and the Sir Elton John private Collection.
In 2012 Sophie co-founded Document Scotland, a collective of internationally acclaimed photographers dedicated to chronicling the social, cultural and economic life in Scotland.
Sophie is a lecturer in photography at Edinburgh Napier University, a senior lecturer at Falmouth University MA Photography online and a member of the board of trustees for Impressions Gallery in Bradford.
Sophie’s work has been published in several books including “New Light” The Jerwood Foundation (2009), “Tunnock” Cafe Royal Books (2015), “The Bigger Picture”, Impressions Gallery (2015) and “Compassion, Commitment, Community” The Savitri Waney Charitable Trust (2013).
Sophie is represented by The Photographers’ Gallery in London.
08 03 2019
East Meets West is a series of Masterclasses organised by GRAIN in partnership with FORMAT Festival, QUAD, Derby, which offered photographers from the East and West Midlands an immersion in their subject matter and a unique opportunity for emerging photographers to receive feedback from industry experts.
Seventeen participants formed the cohort and each photographer developed a body of work between October 2018 to February 2019. It has been an inspiring experience to see how each participant’s work has developed over these months, and to see how the group have formulated a critical and supportive framework.
We would like to thank the reviewers: Andrew Jackson, Matthew Murray, Peter Dench, Natasha Caruana, Kate Peters, Michael Sargeant, Anthony Luvera and Harry Hardie, who pushed the boundaries of each participant’s personal development through portfolio reviews and by offering fantastic advice.
For FORMAT19 the participants work is exhibited as a digital showcase at QUAD. In addition, the group have curated a fringe exhibition for the opening weekend of FORMAT at The Market Hall, Derby, demonstrating the group’s enthusiasm and ambition.
This year’s exhibiting photographers are: Anand Chhabra; Emma Case; Hazel Simcox; Ilona Denton; Jonny Bark; Kaya Isaac, Kristy Clark; Liam Pye; Luca Bailey; Luke Williams; Maryam Wahid; Oliver Tooke; Phillip Singleton; Simon Burrows; Tom Wynne and Tristan Poyser.
East Meets West is a partnership with FORMAT International Photography Festival and Quad and is supported by Arts Council England, Derby University and Birmingham City University.