“Intermissions”: Edward Chambré-Hardman

OCA Study visit.

Edward Chambré-Hardman “Intermissions”
Liverpool Central Library  16th January 2016

Intermissions

“It is my intention that in viewing these portraits, the spectator becomes the common denominator between the three points in the process of observation.  The spectator can either choose to view the first image, or the second image independently, but the fact that the pair have been presented together can never be overlooked.   By viewing the images side by side and either traversing between the pair, or even trying to take in both simultaneously, there is an attempt to place the emphasis upon the physical gap in time.”  Keith Roberts 2015

This study visit was timely for me as I have just completed the “People and place” module.  It was also a good opportunity to meet with other OCA students to exchange thoughts and ideas. The project belongs to Keith Roberts OCA tutor and host for this event.

Intermissions It was the attractive and questioning exhibition poster that caught my eye and enticed me to attend the study visit.  It reminds me of a Bauhaus design (triangle), one is immediately captivated by the two contrasting images and attempts to make them one, drawing the eye to the apex of the triangle.

Hardman

Edward Chambré Hardman, (1898-1988), is still perhaps best known for his photograph The Birth of the Ark Royal (1950).  However for around half a century from 1923 he and his wife Margaret ran a  successful commercial portrait studio, first on Liverpool’s Bold Street then on Rodney Street, now owned by the National Trust. Between 1923 – 1963 Hardman meticulously recorded the subjects he photographed in 11 Studio Registers and all the negatives were stored in biscuit tins – approximately 140,000. Fortunately Hardman was a hoarder and shortly after his death, his treasured collection was rescued from his home by Liverpool photographer Peter Hagerty.

P1110892Keith Roberts has commenced the extensive, fascinating job of digitising the collection and it is hoped that his exhibition, a portfolio of 80 photographs (40 pairs) will trigger memories and be recognised and identified by family, friends and members of the local community.  The “sitters”, many of which were servicemen and women, are shown in time-lapse, pre and post war.

I asked Keith what his driver was (apart from the fact that this was his PhD project), Curiosity? Commitment? Determination? He said that he hoped to redress the balance of Hardman’s work – commercial portraiture versus his better known landscape images. Keith stated he had become attached to the portraits, especially as people come forward in emotional recognition and add dimension to the image, he now feels as much engaged with the subjects as with the project as a whole.

Intermission1-slider

Personally, I found it fascinating, a slice of social history. As the viewer, I was able to reflect on what could have happened to the subjects in the intervening period – the intermission. I was compelled to fill in the gaps, create my own narrative, many assumptions made as a result!

 

delemere
I particularly enjoyed listening to Keith explain how he had delved further, out of personal curiosity, he has returned to several of the locations where the portraits were originally taken and retaken the shots, bereft of their subjects. How wonderful to discover many of the places as they were back then, then visualise the grand event of the portrait sitting. This has sparked an idea for a future project!

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OCA symposium – “Photography Matters”

OCA symposium – “Photography Matters”
“Cast”, Doncaster. 21st May 2016

Photography Matters was a one-day OCA symposium held at “Cast” in Doncaster on Saturday 21st May 2016. The conference was chaired by Professor Mark Durden, academic, artist and author of many books including  Photography Today. The event discussions were linked to everyday lived experience, visual culture, evolving technology, archiving and history, news media, education at all levels and public perception.

Speakers at the conference were –
Les Monaghan, OCA tutor, on making art photography for public audiences
Keith Roberts, OCA tutor, on family portraits and the returned gaze
Derek Trillo, OCA tutor, on exploring notions of time through experimental photography
Dawn Woolley, OCA tutor, on selfies, consumer culture and identity
Rachel Smith, OCA tutor, on the materiality of the photograph

“Photography Matters” is intended to be read two ways; matters pertaining to photography, and as a statement affirming that photography matters to us all. The latter implies a currency with which to question the former – what is happening in photography right now that affects life as we live it? Where in the everyday do our lives intersect with this most ubiquitous medium? From photojournalism that ‘goes viral’ and ultimately informs political change to the billions of supposedly impermanent direct images sent between individuals, photography is still a primary means of communication. Historically how has it shaped who we think we are?

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I particularly enjoyed listening to Les Monaghan speaking about his latest work, The Desire Project which is currently being exhibited in the Frenchgate shopping centre in Doncaster. His project involved asking local people, in the shopping centre, ‘What do you want?’ All who took part in the project knew exactly how and where their images would be displayed.

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Considering the point; “Is it fair?”,  Monaghan discussed his methods and motivations for his work and how he has experienced occasions when he chose not to press the shutter, concerned that his creation of the image didn’t feel fair on the people in question. For ‘The Desire Project’. he allowed his subjects some time to actually think about the question and how they would like to answer it. I just wonder how honest I would be if put on the spot, or knowing my image was to be displayed for all to see…. Of the seventy portraits hanging in the shopping centre, he ensured there was a ‘fair’ mix of comments on the wall, although he did stress that by far the majority sentiment was the desire for world peace. Below is another of Monaghan’s projects, in a similar vein but asking ‘What do you want to be?’

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This work is displayed a the corner of a busy road. He commented on how amazed he was that the images had not been vandalised or defaced in any way. I guess this demonstrates pride and respect in the local community.
Monaghan’s projects remind me of Gillian Wearing’s (b.1963) “Signs that say what you want them to say and not signs that say what someone else wants you to say”. Similarly Wearing approached people in the street and asked them to write something about their lives or how they were feeling on a large card. They were then photographed holding their statements. These projects bring everyday life to photography – honest and down to earth rather than the poetic idealism captured in many portraits.
signs1    signs2     signs3

 

Chasing Shadows

Chasing Shadows
The Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal, Cumbria (February 2016)

Chasing shadows 7     Chasing shadows 8

Chasing Shadows is a photographic art collective based in Ireland. Founded in 2010, its members incorporate historic and alternative photographic process into their visual arts practices.  The aim of Chasing Shadows is to enhance the debate between digital and analogue photography creations especially with regard to the historical methodology of photography. From manipulated portraits to the occurrence of perceived ‘nature’ within the urban environment, these works not only demonstrates the flexibility of photographic practice but also acknowledges the origins of the art.

This exhibition has followed on nicely from the OCA “Intermissions” study visit. I am currently contemplating an idea – maybe to incorporate into future assignment for Context and narrative.  Viewing these photographs has provided me with more inspiration for a past/present/memories project.

Digital photography continues to convince practitioners of its potential and flexibility, however it is reassuring that there are still photographers willing to include traditional and historical methods as part of their contemporary practice.

Member Ian Mitton says of his work; “It is an exploration of particular aspects of humanity, especially individual and collective memory. It is an intimate collection of fragmented forms manipulated to evoke larger themes. The scrutiny and assessment of such themes hopefully places the viewer into a dialogue with the work. Re-ordering the visual and confusing its relationship to the world through selection and exclusion emphasises the ephemeral nature of remembrance.”

  Chasing shadows 4       Mitton Garde Children

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Created by Ian Mitton, ‘Rocking Horse”, “Beach Boy” and “Garde Children” offer a sense of nostalgia, the dated and historical appearance – the burnt sections and the murky merging colours. More intriguing for me is looking beyond the obvious in an attempt to reveal what “their” world was like, what else is going on in the image? What is the meaning? Is there a story within the image? I would like to translate these ideas into my future projects and experiment with creating more than one generation in one image – an ancestral montage.

John Maher – “Nobody’s Home”

John Maher “Nobody’s Home”
Farfield Mill, Sedbergh, Cumbria (May 2016)

John Maher invite

John Maher is perhaps best known as the former drummer of English punk band Buzzcocks. “Ever fallen in love with someone….”.  Maher has been living on the Isle of Harris since 2002. It has taken him seven years to discover how to photograph the islands in a style that interested him. Self taught and inspired by the work of Troy Paiva’s light painting and night photography, Maher began taking photographs on clear nights under a full moon. “With night photography I can revisit those same subjects and scenes I see every day and turn them into something the human eye can never record.” says John.

maher night1

Earth Mover [24 mins]

Broken home

Broken home

It was when Maher out shooting dilapidated buildings at night that he got the idea for his project, “Nobody’s Home”.

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Most of these buildings were family homes, abandoned to the elements on these remote Scottish islands because relatives cannot bear to sell them. The haunting images, show the deteriorated properties untouched and unchanged since the day the owner died and some have become memorials to the dead of the islands.

Kitchen sink    tv set
          Kitchen sunk                                                            TV set

These images evoke nostalgia, traces of past lives. In looking at the pictures I feel as though I am intruding in to the homes and lives of families – past and present. Surely there are relatives or next generation who hold some rights to the properties? Maher has composed the shots in a way that places the viewer directly into the room, in amongst personal possessions. Human habitation left long ago and now nature is taking a hold.

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Bedroom and Chapel

One wonders why belongings were not removed when inhabitants moved out, or if they died at home, why family and friends did not clear everything away. It is as though the homes have morphed into shrines.

 

The Factory 2016

The Factory 2016
The Old Herring Factory, Djupavik, Iceland (June 2016)

Djupavik poster

When planning our road trip around Iceland, we highlighted Djupavik on the itinerary, one because of its remote location and interesting history, and two because of the annual photography exhibition. I’m so glad we did, it was a fascinating and bizarre kind of place in a stunning isolated location near the head of a fjord.

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“The Factory” is an exhibition where photographers from all corners of the world, if selected, get to showcase their work. The location and surroundings of this ‘gallery’ are unique. The photographs are displayed in the old abandoned and dilapidated herring factory, surrounded by rusty old machinery and assorted mechanical objects.

DSC_5649    DSC_5648

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The work that particularly caught my eye was that of photographer Etienne Ketelslegers. He is Belgian, a radiologist and a passionate photographer. He first visited in Iceland in 2010 and like me, was enchanted by the landscape and the forms, colours and materials on the island. His series reminded me of the John Maher exhibition I visited back in May “Nobody’s Home”.  Many of the houses in Ketelslegers’ series of photographs are also abandoned.

Iceland 1      Iceland 3      Iceland 2

“The purpose of this series is to highlight the aesthetic potential, sometimes unintended and often unrecognized.”, Ketelslegers points out. These properties are dotted about the Icelandic landscape and there is a mystery surrounding each of them, they represent evidence of human life, but where are they now and why did they leave? Unlike Maher, this photographer has chosen not to show the interiors of the buildings, maybe access was forbidden or boarded up. For me this series is more about position in the landscape, how the buildings blend in or stand out.

Here are a couple of shots I took earlier on our trip.

3 - Copy   11 - Copy

Left: Most definitely abandoned, I did have a poke around but the two entrances were well and truly sealed, mostly with rust. The colours are of nature and compliment the landscape and although it is in a sorry state it does have a romantic appeal for me, particularly the fjord side setting. Quite possibly a fisherman’s cottage/shelter.
Right: Here I show old and new and there is evidence of human existence (washing on the line), although there was no sign of life when we walked by. 

I intend to work on a personal project with the images I have from our visit to Iceland, focusing on the prominence of colours on the island.

Hard Focus: The Physicality of photography

HARD FOCUS: The Physicality of Photography
Exhibition by Nightlight Darkroom. ArtWork Atelier. Salford. (November 2016)

This was a half-day symposium examining the position of tactile, physical images taking up space in a tech-complex, claustrophobic world. It accompanied the exhibition HARD FOCUS, organised to celebrate the opening of Nightlight Darkroom, a new space for analogue photography in Salford, Manchester.

Speakers: Peter Kennard, Karen Harvey, Anna Douglas, Andrea Allan, Moira Lovell, Alexandra Hughes & Martin Shepley.

The city of paper-pasted billboards has become rebooted with a number of immersive digital LED screens displaying slideshows of ice-white teeth, wish you were here beaches and crisp-edged condensation on bottled water. Images have become slimlined, squeezed and boxed-in to a series of pixels, of zeros and ones viewed on glitchy, fragile devices. There are plenty more images in the ether than ever before, yet the physical experience of photographic material could be in danger of being permanently ripped down and digitally replaced from the gallery space, in the same way that the family snap storing ritual of mounting glossy moments in leather-bound family albums has been abandoned.[1]

Curated by Helen McGhie (Director of Nightlight Darkroom), the exhibition examined the role of how in the context of contemporary art, photography has become entwined and closely connected to other art forms and systems of communication including sculpture, video, computer graphics and virtual space.

“Everywhere one looks today in the world of contemporary art, the photographic object seems to be an object in crisis, or at least in severe transformation.”[2]

The symposium highlighted that physical space is very much a valuable commodity and how densely populated cities, towns and even villages encourage its inhabitants to compress and compact their lives into the smallest places possible, to de-clutter and minimalise. Digital technology is has led to the tactile family album being abandoned in favour of storage and filing on plastic discs, or online social media.

Moira Lovell is an artist whose work deals with photography, gender and power. Moira is a lecturer in photography at the University of Salford and a distance-learning photography tutor for the Open College of the Arts.

For the symposium Moira explored the ‘excess’ of photography, the photographs that were never meant to be tactile or physical.  She explained, “These are amateur snaps of stuff for sale, made by women.” Here Moira is referring to the likes of Depop, a ‘young persons’ mobile shopping app.

deepop-4 deepop-3
No problem with this you may think, but what about these shots below?

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Is the intention here to really sell clothes or is there another agenda? The first image may well be niave, but the angle is a little risque. The second image presents mixed messages. If this were my daughter I would be having words…. This is a good example of why the instant access, digital image is preferable to the unnecessary printed photograph.

Moira gave us a comment she had received from a teenaged girl. “I trust the Selfie more than I trust the mirror”. This reminded me listening to Dawn Woolley’s talk “Hysterical Selfies” (Photography Matters, Doncaster Symposium). See more here. There is a growing desire for virtual community inclusion, comparisons are made of model-like images on social media. Whilst the darkroom could ‘fix’ appearance, it was slight compared to the wonderous results Photoshop and the likes can provide. The instant spontaneity of digital images are therefore more desirable than the printed, physicality of the photograph.

Digital files don’t have a tangible existence, even when interpreted as prints. One used to be able to buy autograph books – beautifully textured ones or leather bound or covered in delicate print fabric. Now the collecting of autographs is a rare hobby, much more desirable is to “grab a Selfie” with your idol. There is also a “materiality” of knowledge, when I read a book, I need to be able to hold it in my hand, to feel the material reality of the knowledge, of the effort. For me, the same applies to some photographs.

pope    clooney

Alexandra Hughes is a visual artist with a practice in the field of expanded photography, undertaking physical explorations of the photographic medium, moving from the 2D to 3D. Doing so brings image and material together to explore our mediated relationship with the landscape through technology and seemingly immaterial, ubiquitous photographic images in the current digital age.

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A Tree For Sally 2016 C-type prints, tree branches, wood doweling, clay, wire, electrical tape

For Hard Focus, Alexandra questioned both the effects of engaging with the photographic image and it’s tactile, spatial and temporal dimensions and considers, through the mediation of the photographic object how can a wilderness be constructed and explored as a site.

A Tree For Sally 2016 C-type prints, tree branches, wood dowelling, clay, wire, electrical tape

A Tree For Sally
2016
C-type prints, tree branches, wood doweling, clay, wire, electrical tape

I create works that lean on the borders of photographic processes, materials and technologies, examining thresholds of time and place. Currently, I am testing installation-based pieces that explore ideas of materiality, experience and duration. I recently installed a wall-based work that consists of sheets of steel and brass arranged with black and white photographs of undulating patterns of waves. The warm brass sheets ripple reflected light as the viewer traverses the piece, which allude to the motion of water and reflected light on its surface. [3]

Alexandra works with both analogue and digital, therefore combining the virtual and the material. Her work shows no indication of one medium replacing or superseding the other, but instead promotes a fresh insight to how physical materiality can support our connection to photography.

References
1. https://shutterhub.org.uk/blog/hard-focus-the-physicality-of-photography-exhibition-symposium-with-shutter
2. Baker, G. (2005). Photography’s Expanded Field.  p. 121.
3. alexandrahughes.co.uk

 

Exhibitions and study visits

The Factory 2016
The Old Herring Factory, Djupavik, Iceland (June 2016)

Djupavik poster

When planning our road trip around Iceland, we highlighted Djupavik on the itinerary, one because of its remote location and interesting history, and two because of the annual photography exhibition. I’m so glad we did, it was a fascinating and bizarre kind of place in a stunning isolated location near the head of a fjord.

DSC_5668    DSC_5667
11

“The Factory” is an exhibition where photographers from all corners of the world, if selected, get to showcase their work. The location and surroundings of this ‘gallery’ are unique. The photographs are displayed in the old abandoned and dilapidated herring factory, surrounded by rusty old machinery and assorted mechanical objects.

DSC_5649    DSC_5648

DSC_5650

The work that particularly caught my eye was that of photographer Etienne Ketelslegers. He is Belgian, a radiologist and a passionate photographer. He first visited in Iceland in 2010 and like me, was enchanted by the landscape and the forms, colours and materials on the island. His series reminded me of the John Maher exhibition I visited back in May “Nobody’s Home”.  Many of the houses in Ketelslegers’ series of photographs are also abandoned.

Iceland 1      Iceland 3      Iceland 2

“The purpose of this series is to highlight the aesthetic potential, sometimes unintended and often unrecognized.”, Ketelslegers points out. These properties are dotted about the Icelandic landscape and there is a mystery surrounding each of them, they represent evidence of human life, but where are they now and why did they leave? Unlike Maher, this photographer has chosen not to show the interiors of the buildings, maybe access was forbidden or boarded up. For me this series is more about position in the landscape, how the buildings blend in or stand out.

Here are a couple of shots I took earlier on our trip.

3 - Copy   11 - Copy

Left: Most definitely abandoned, I did have a poke around but the two entrances were well and truly sealed, mostly with rust. The colours are of nature and compliment the landscape and although it is in a sorry state it does have a romantic appeal for me, particularly the fjord side setting. Quite possibly a fisherman’s cottage/shelter.
Right: Here I show old and new and there is evidence of human existence (washing on the line), although there was no sign of life when we walked by. 

I intend to work on a personal project with the images I have from our visit to Iceland, focusing on the prominence of colours on the island.

OCA study visit

Edward Chambré-Hardman “Intermissions”
Liverpool Central Library  16th January 2016

Intermissions

“It is my intention that in viewing these portraits, the spectator becomes the common denominator between the three points in the process of observation.  The spectator can either choose to view the first image, or the second image independently, but the fact that the pair have been presented together can never be overlooked.   By viewing the images side by side and either traversing between the pair, or even trying to take in both simultaneously, there is an attempt to place the emphasis upon the physical gap in time.”  Keith Roberts 2015

This study visit was timely for me as I have just completed the “People and place” module.  It was also a good opportunity to meet with other OCA students to exchange thoughts and ideas. The project belongs to Keith Roberts OCA tutor and host for this event.

Intermissions It was the attractive and questioning exhibition poster that caught my eye and enticed me to attend the study visit.  It reminds me of a Bauhaus design (triangle), one is immediately captivated by the two contrasting images and attempts to make them one, drawing the eye to the apex of the triangle.

 

Hardman

Edward Chambré Hardman, (1898-1988), is still perhaps best known for his photograph The Birth of the Ark Royal (1950).  However for around half a century from 1923 he and his wife Margaret ran a  successful commercial portrait studio, first on Liverpool’s Bold Street then on Rodney Street, now owned by the National Trust. Between 1923 – 1963 Hardman meticulously recorded the subjects he photographed in 11 Studio Registers and all the negatives were stored in biscuit tins – approximately 140,000. Fortunately Hardman was a hoarder and shortly after his death, his treasured collection was rescued from his home by Liverpool photographer Peter Hagerty.

P1110892Keith Roberts has commenced the extensive, fascinating job of digitising the collection and it is hoped that his exhibition, a portfolio of 80 photographs (40 pairs) will trigger memories and be recognised and identified by family, friends and members of the local community.  The “sitters”, many of which were servicemen and women, are shown in time-lapse, pre and post war.

I asked Keith what his driver was (apart from the fact that this was his PhD project), Curiosity? Commitment? Determination? He said that he hoped to redress the balance of Hardman’s work – commercial portraiture versus his better known landscape images. Keith stated he had become attached to the portraits, especially as people come forward in emotional recognition and add dimension to the image, he now feels as much engaged with the subjects as with the project as a whole.

Intermission1-slider

Personally, I found it fascinating, a slice of social history. As the viewer, I was able to reflect on what could have happened to the subjects in the intervening period – the intermission. I was compelled to fill in the gaps, create my own narrative, many assumptions made as a result!

 

delemereI particularly enjoyed listening to Keith explain how he had delved further, out of personal curiosity, he has returned to several of the locations where the portraits were originally taken and retaken the shots, bereft of their subjects. How wonderful to discover many of the places as they were back then, then visualise the grand event of the portrait sitting. This has sparked an idea for a future project!

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The Clark  Art Museum  “Van Gogh and Nature”
Williamstown, Massachusetts (July 2015)

the clark

TheClarkArtInstituteFinal4

 

An exhibition of nature surrounded by Mother Nature.  My summer visit to The Clark, art museum in its stunning setting in The Berkshires, New England, was an architectural delight. Apart from viewing the wonderful art on display,  it’s also a wonderful place to while away a day – take in the pure air and relax in the peaceful natural surroundings. I have been able to use one or two photographs of this unique setting  in my learning log for some of the exercises.

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Van Gogh and Nature
From his earliest letters to his last great drawings and paintings, Van Gogh showed an extraordinary fascination with the natural world. Youthful studies of trees, flowers, and heath-land were accompanied by verbal descriptions of the changing seasons. In 1874 he wrote to his brother Theo: “Always continue walking a lot and loving nature, for that’s the real way to learn to understand art better and better. Painters understand nature and love it, and teach us to see.” 

marsh-with-water-lillies-1881Blog

The earliest piece at the Clark was an 1881 ink drawing called “Marsh With Waterlilies: Etten.” It’s a wonderful fine line drawing with a small bird hovering at its centre. The detail is so exquisite that the absence of colour is never considered.

 

 

DSC_2666Left: There is a lily pond in the grounds of The Clark, which I headed off to photograph after the exhibition.  I have to say that the detail and honesty in Van Gogh’s drawing  is as true as the real thing.

 

The sower

 

In contrast, the vibrancy of “The Sower” (1888), a  brilliant yellow sun dominates as it radiates across the scene, setting on a field of golden wheat. There are vivid jewel tones of violet, sapphire and amber. The heat and brilliance caused me to almost squint. The Sower, a cheery faced man striding out with confidence. I labour over this painting for some time, having just read about Van Gogh’s short life……..

I read that it has long been thought that Van Gogh committed suicide in this very wheat field in Auvers where he frequently went to paint.  Recent research suggests that he was killed accidentally by a couple of boys larking around with a malfunctioning gun.

Gregory White Smith, ( Van Gogh’s biography “The Life” 2012) said, Van Gogh did not “actively seek death but that when it came to him, he embraced it”.  He said his acceptance of death was “really done as an act of love to his brother, to whom he was a burden”.  Van Gogh’s brother, Theo was funding the artist who, at that time, “wasn’t selling”.  

……As I look again at the painting I see “The Sower” as Van Gogh in a different frame of mind – happy and confident with his lot, sowing the seeds of success. Rather than in the dark state of his troubled mind, he is surrounded by brightness and warmth. Van Gogh said “I dream of painting and then I paint my dream”…………

The research and the theories continue to question and seek the truth. I look forward to the forthcoming film “Loving Vincent”.

References
Naifeh, S. & White Smith, G. 2012 (Reprint edition). Van Gogh “The Life”. Random House. New York.