Detail of photograph by Zara Ilic.
University of Westminster had the lion’s share of the Free Range showspace last weekend, store taking up the entirety of the huge hangar like space, symptoms which has lately been suffering a lot of roof leaks. Within those walls was a plethora of different photographic styles. I picked up on just a few in the show.
Tomas Hein looked into contemporary archaeological finds – from the former inhabitants of 43 Gerrard Road, Islington. After eviction only the porcelain statues of this Chinese family remained alongside some black and white informal family photos. Huge prints emphasised the pathos of his finds. His accompanying zine was featured on It’s Nice That. Find Tomas Hein on twitter here.
Louise Smith de Vasconcelos looked into Awareness and Perception in a series of close up still lives, some of which were more discernibly objects that I knew and recognised than others.
I was most taken by Genevieve Rudd‘s collaborative project with her grandfather James Pettigrew, named 64 Althea Green. Together they documented her grandmother’s decline into dementia, with slabs of paint overlaid on conventional photography in a semi crazed manner.
Samantha Cawson also chose to create an installation with the bastardised photographs of the Victorian and Edwardian era – faces sewn over with coloured cotton threads. Weirdly, I had the idea to do this with some of my old magazine tearsheets only yesterday, when I was considering how I could have contributed original art to the Art Car Boot Fair. Though maybe not over their faces…
Beth Vieira calls herself a ‘lens-based artist’ and is interested in cinematic and narrative photography. ‘Coming from an academic environment, my work tends to demonstrate a conceptual reflection onto psychoanalytical and sociological dramas‘. Her three video loop installation was called Scouting for Boys and featured staged tableaux that called to mind the kind of generic imagery that is familiar to us from films and television. At first glance these appeared to be static photos but then eyes, breath, wisps of emotion revealed them to be alive and moving people. Subtley clever.
Ed Hannan tackled that favourite photographic subject, the weird beauty of council estates – mounds of curvaceous and angular weathered concrete rendered beautiful in the loving detail. It’s a shame there’s nowt more to be seen online yet.
The Garage struck a resonant note with me – Shanna Taylor‘s documentation of her father’s incredible hoarding showed how it has threatened to engulf his family (he’s built an extra garage where everything is getting mouldy and moth eaten). Rather uncomfortably it reminds me of my own tendency to hang on to absolutely everything… just in case it’s needed somewhere down the line, and also because I hate to create any kind of waste that might end up in landfill. ‘Much of what he has accumulated is junk…. However for him each item has such a high degree of perceived value that he cannot bear to part with it.’ Yup, I know that feeling only too well.
Uncertain States by Jorge Anthony Stride featured a series of ethereal landscapes, quite similar in fact to Lydia Anna Stott’s work at Nottingham Trent. Even his written explanation was eerily similar too. I must say I am very drawn to this kind of photography – something about the dreamlike state of it is very appealing. There must be something zeitgeisty going on here.
I loved Zara Ilic‘s Plitvika Jezera – a colour saturated documentation of the waterfall in a national park on the borders between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. The waters change colour constantly according to the mineral deposits and angle of the sun, something which she has captured extremely evocatively. And to my excitement I was able to tweet her immediately to say how much I liked her work because she included her twitter profile on her business card. Yay!
Aniela Michalec-Perriam worked with children to complete her final project – Pur-spi-kas-i-tee tackled the plight of kids with communication difficulties, saddled with trying to make themselves understood in a society that negatively stereotypes them. The children were all given the opportunity to contribute to their portrait in any way they liked. The blurring of faces and simple brightness of the resulting photos was very evocative.
Lastly, Jason Pierce-Williams visited the studios of artists who are driven to make art despite the lack of commercial success. His candid portraits portrayed the stoicism of those artists who are determined to keep producing art regardless. ‘None of the artists portrayed are household names.’
All in all there was a very high quality of photography amongst Westminster students, but too many have rested on their laurels when it comes to promoting their work online – it was a massive struggle to find degree show images. Some students hadn’t even bothered to upload their images to the Free Range showcase pages, hence the reason that this blog features my relatively crappy photos of photos. Trawling the web in search of images I have also come to realise just how much help creatives need with learning Search Engine Optimisation – they really don’t make the most of it. I can’t stress how important it is to graduate with a strong online presence so that interested parties can track you down. Is it any surprise that Tomas Hein, with his great website, blog and twitter feed, has received such notable accolades already? If not now, then when?
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