An invitation was a collaborative body of work produced as part of a two day residency on the Bathroom Darkroom Project. The collaborators were the Many Hands Craft Collective and myself as photographic artist.
Many Hands Craft Collective are an Over 60s crafts group based at Victoria Square Housing, in Ancoats. I have worked with the group as a facilitator and producer for over 6 years but recently we have been working in partnership to explore how photography can be used as a collaborative endeavor. This exploration was part of a recent Masters by research project seeking to re-position photography as a socially engaged practice.
The group themselves meet and/ or reside within a 200 year old social housing building made up of as many flats as it’s grand age. This Victorian building represents a very different demographic of the Manchester community who currently reside within the home of the bathroom darkroom, but similarly live within the current monopoly of shared, rent based housing on offer in the city.
The work produced during this two day residency is just a strand of the wider work produced, but is a reflection of what emerges from a simple invitation, for one set of residents to respond to the domesticity of another.
Collectively we created documentary and intervention based photography and video, using the house as the set for our collaborative performance.
Ferry Folk - Pier Head Viewfinder
The Ferry Folk Pier Head Viewfinder is the result of a 9 month photography residency on the Mersey Ferries, in partnership with Merseytravel and Museum of Liverpool.
Working with staff, daily commuters and tourists related to the Mersey Ferries, I was able to capture imagery of the people behind the iconic Liverpool river passage.
Through collaboration and consultation with those involved, and working with fabricators M3 Industries, the Ferry Folk Pier Head Viewfinder was produced to sit within Museum of Liverpool's The People's Republic Gallery from 11 January until 25 March 2018.
A series of images are presented on viewfinder slides for people to interact with and choose which of the Ferry Folk they'd like to meet next.
Also on display is a series of photographic works and anecdotes, focusing on different memories and stories of individuals I met during the residency - these can be viewed on the digital atrium screen as you enter the Museum of Liverpool.
Thanks to fellow photographer Robert Battersby for his installation shots of the opening event.
Ferry Folk is the result of a 9 month residency with the Mersey Ferries. I was invited to create a new body of artwork that captures a contemporary view of the Mersey Ferry view whilst still reflecting its rich past. The project was commissioned in partnership with Merseytravel, Museum of Liverpool, Open Eye Gallery and supported by Grants for the Arts, Arts Council England.
Working closely with the Mersey Ferries staff, commuters and daily tourists, I created opportunities for individual’s stories and memories of the ferry to be shared.
I met with many ferry goers during the Summer peak of my ferry river explorer trips, some very local and others from around the globe. With a fleeting chance to meet and find out more about each visitor, follow up conversations via letters, email and social media or in person with local residents, I was able continue a dialogue in more depth. A photographic series of portraits, conversations and accompanying map work are exhibited on the exterior of Open Eye Gallery’s building to reflect these dialogues and include two stories by local social history group, the Digital Ambassadors.
An additional series of audio scapes were installed at the entrance to Open Eye Gallery. And more images and photo stories created can be viewed on the digital platform
Thanks to Robert Battersby for the install shots of the Ferry Folk work and thanks to Wild Ilk for their support on the map design.
As part of the newly opened Paradise Works artist studio and exhibition space, I was invited to take part in their inaugural exhibition Politics of Paradise. After spending time with local residents connected to the near by River Irwell, I was invited to delve deeper into the surrounding area through a series of river based walks. After discovering the fallen fruits from apple trees on land opposite Paradise Works, I decided to respond with Rotten Apple. A forgotten object, loaded with references to nature and paradise, was transformed through analogue technologies and an urge from myself as the artist to return to the simplest of my own pleasures - colour darkroom processing.
Thanks to photographer Steve Iles for the installation shot for Politics of Paradise (work showcased alongside work by Kieran Leach, 2017).
Record, Archive, Rewind
‘Record, Archive, Rewind’ was created in response to the recent news of the forthcoming closure and sale of Crusader Mill, current home to Rogue Artist Studios. The studio has 20-year history of occupying the Crusader Mill space, and at the time was my own studio base by 2018 will be developed into inner city apartments.
The work was exhibited at the 2016 Rogue Open Studios, the last the building would ever host. The work attempts to blur the boundaries between a past and present narrative, and plays with the frictions between shifting technologies and industries that once existed within the building. As a photographer interested in the tensions between digital and analog, there is an analogy here, between labor and production – past and new.
Environmental Hubs was a 2 year residency programme 2011-12, working across various allotment and urban gardening sites across the UK, supported by Grants for the Arts, Arts Council England.
The project looked to explore the hidden social and political infrastructure of allotment sites and the nuances of the communities which make up these microcosms of society.
The project included a specific 3 month intensive collaborative residency at the Bradley Fold Allotment Site in Manchester entitled Allotment Diaries (see Allotment Diaries page for more details).
A selection of the work was later showcased at the Cultivation Fields exhibition at the University of Reading curated by Kate Corder.
As part of my 2 year project exploring allotment and environmental hubs across the UK, I undertook a 3 month residency at Bradley Fold Allotments, South Manchester. supported by Grants for the Arts, Arts Council England. The project was my first collaborative and site specific residency resulting in text, photography and video works exhibited as part of an “open shed” event.
Work produced was informed through a process of dialogue and exchange between myself and the allotment community, pulling weeds and cooking for residents with surplus crops in exchange for stories and images which represented their relationship to the allotment and each other. Final works for the site for co-curated by myself and the residents.
A number of guest artists were also invited for 2 days residencies on site to respond to the allotment, its community and my own work, which resulted in both a group show of the work produced, but also from the suggestions of the allotment community – a new artist collective called Common Ground which have since taken up a number of collective projects and workshops exploring sustainability and collective labour in the arts. Common Ground are Tracey Eastham, Kai-O Jay Yung, Claire Tindale, Simon Jones, Liz Wewiora and Tasha Whittle. For information about the collective and the overall project can be found here
Allotment Diaries - Works on Paper
As part of the artist residency at Bradley Fold Allotment, a series of additional works on paper were created as mono prints and illustrations based on a series of communal learning & growing reading materials kept within the site’s shared storage unit.
These works were shown alongside the rest of the photography, text and video work, as exhibited as part of the culminating “open shed” event.
The are a selection of works, which through the image making process in some way 'fail' as photographs through either exposure or analogue errors. A selection of these failed works were then exhibited at QUAD Gallery, Derby, as a group exhibition exploring photography's relationship to the unexpected beauty in our failures.
The Things Between
The Things Between formed my 2008 Degree show, in BA Hons Photography at Glasgow School of Art. The work reflected 4 years of photography, focusing on how the medium often acts as the hidden space between subject/ object and viewer. A combination of staged images and the capturing of uncanny encounters, highlights how moments of beauty can often appear on the edge of reason and circumstance. I still continue to add to the series today…
Familiar patterns is a development of my previous Familiar series, exploring the domestic interiors of home or centre’s in a state of transition – empty or abandoned from habitation but still with traces of human presence and touch.
Abandoned imagery or objects are re-worked through both digital manipulation as well as hand drawn painting to disrupt the originals, and transformed back into items for commodity or sale, finding a new use, either as textiles, wallpaper or bookworks.
This body of work is created from salvaged slides of 1960s failed testing products and documentation of abandoned items from the basement of one of Manchester’s old Co-op buildings, Federation House.
As part of the Castlefield Gallery’s New Art Spaces initiative the building was able to host a vast number of artist studios and project/ gallery spaces, bringing the once vacant space back to life. Unfortunately last year the space was sold on, and now it remains empty waiting, one again, to be re-animated by the next potential sector. The work acts as homage to production past and present. A representation of chains of activity now forgotten for this building, from the photographer who was responsible for collating and documented a series of failed products who would never make it to market, to myself as an photographer re-appropriating this imagery as a celebration of another photographer’s past.
The slides were taken from the basement upon hearing of our vacation, and again it was this sense of urgency which drove me to save something of its past.
The work tries to capture our relationship to space, and our labour within it, and is often created at the point of risk or potential loss. A selection of the work was showcased at Rogue artist open studios, October 2016.
#Knitterfeed was a collaborative project between myself, artist Jennifer Steele, games programmer Tom Kinniburgh and the Cross Acres Craft Group, based at Age Concern Cross Acres, Wythenshawe, South Manchester and was part of the Hand Made programme commissioned by Future Everything 2012.
The project involved a two way skills exchange between the Craft group and the artists, where by new knitting and sowing skills were passed on from the group to myself and Jenny, whilst we supported the group to learn new online skills and digital communication. The project resulted in a series of public requested knitted items, ordered via twitter, which were then physically created and delivered back to those who made the original order.
A live #knitterfeed event took place at the Victoria Baths, where passing members of the public could learn new knitting skills, request via a live feed additional knitting items and view the works produced so far through this collaborative exchange.