Personal Research: Hannah Starkey

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Starkey, H. (1997). Untitled. Available from http://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/artpages/hannah_starkey_may.htm
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Starkey, H. (1998). Untitled. Available from http://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/artpages/hannah_starkey_may.htm

I have come across Hannah Starkey’s work without even realising it, but recently read an article which included an article of her talking about her work in Broadly, written by Olivia Parkes March 25th 2016.

Starkey mainly photographs women, in the interview she states that this is because of events that had been happening in Belfast, Northern Ireland where she grew up. For 40 years there was a religious conflict known as the Troubles. During this time when she was a child she could feel the amount of strength women had, and what they could achieve if only their voice was heard “They spoke against the violence with compassion, reason, and intelligence.” (Starkey, H. 2016). In her images she wants to evoke the strength she sees in the women around her as this is dismissed too often in mainstream visual culture.

Looking through Starkey’s photographs I have found her work very inspiring, especially the way she represents women in her images. She has a very distinctive style, in most of her images she includes a window or mirror within the composition, this is because they add a fourth dimension to the photograph and are a metaphor for reflection of the self. She also states that outside of lens-based media mirrors are the only way we can see ourselves in our environment, and sees why people are so captivated with the boom of the selfie; it can be empowering if done in the right way.

I found the interview very interesting to read, to hear her talk about her work made me understand it a lot more and know what she is trying to achieve. You can see this in the images, but because photography is mainly opinion based (this is true for any art form) it was good to be able to hear it from the creator of the work. I always enjoy reading interviews with photographers as they all have such different ideas and ways of working its like a back stage viewing of their work.

If you would like to give the article a read you can find it here:
https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/photos-of-the-inner-lives-of-women

 

Exhibition: Lee Miller ‘A Woman’s War’

Today I visited Imperial War Museum to see the exhibition Lee Miller: A Woman’s War. I had previously heard of Lee Miller and seen some of her war photography but had never experienced her work as seen in this exhibit.
The exhibition was very big and included lots of photographs by Lee Miller; but also of paintings of herself created by Pablo Picasso, Roland Penrose and a cast made by Paul Hamann of Millers torso, objects of hers such as her cameras, equipment, clothing and letters.
The photographs were presented in black frames in different sizes, some of her images were shown digitally using a projector and their was also a video of people talking about her work and a recording of Lee Miller herself in an interview about her work.
The whole exhibition was like a timeline of her photography career; it was amazing to see the amount she had been through. Lee Miller began her career in 1927 and was originally a model for Vogue magazine but ended up being one of their leading photographers. She started of doing fashion photography but gradually became more of a documentary photographer as she captured women’s lives in uniform and even later in her career was a war photographer. She is most well known for her war photography and is one of the most important in the twentieth century due her images taken during the Second World War showing the lasting effects on women in Britain and Europe.
I found her images very fascinating, especially with having the context alongside them on where Miller was in her career and during her life. I also thought having her equipment in the exhibition was very interesting to see what she used during that time period. I am also glad that at the end of the exhibition they showed what she began doing after her career in photography had ended, she began learning to cook and had some of her surrealist recipes shown on Vogue. It actually turned out that Miller’s son had no idea about her career in photography and all the things she had done, and didn’t find out until after her death when he found the photograph in the basement of the family home. This just showed how much of an impact it had on her life, she had completely left that part of her life behind.
Overall I found Lee Miller: A Woman’s War very inspiring and I also liked how the exhibition was laid out, it made it visually interesting and worked well for the viewer to be able to walk around it. I would recommend going to see this exhibition before in closes in April.

PD2 Talk: Jooney Woodward

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Screenshot of Jooney Woodward’s photography website

Today we had a talk by photographer Jooney Woodward who talked to us about her work, her website and how she began taking pictures and selling them. It was very interesting to hear about how she got into the business, and was also inspired how she uses a medium format camera when she can for editorial work as well as her personal. She is a freelance and editorial photographer who did a course of graphic design which really shows in her images. The composition in all of her photographs has been thought about carefully, following the natural lines in the image and framing her subjects very central.
She began by working for Vogue in their archive, looking at thousands of images a day, getting inspiration from them, especially from the posing. After working for Vogue for 7 years she moved away from the Photoshopped fashion images and produced her won very rural portraits and landscapes.

She talked about her experiences with some of her main images, and how she conquered her fear of approaching people for portraits in which she said a sitter once said to her “If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.” and this stuck with her. She explained how she still gets nervous, but once you get past the first few encounters it becomes a lot easier to approach people on the street. She gave us types on how we can make ourselves seem more approachable, by wearing bright colour rather than blacks and always greeting people with a smile and explaining why we want to take a photograph of them. If they say yes then engage with them, ask them questions to keep them interested and to also give yourself time to get ready to take the picture.
I have found this advice really useful and will definitely keep it in mind the next time I want to ask someone for a photograph.

Some website and portfolio advice she gave was to make sure that it is clear on what photography you want to do, as this is what people will ask you to do and not to worry about style too much as that will come with time.
For an editorial portfolio you do not need to have any text as they are only interested in looking at your images, but for gallery’s they need to have the text along side your images as this is how they will be presented, they need to know the idea behind the work. However both needs to flow easily, and pairing images is very important, making sure they work well next to each other.

Overall I found Jooney Woodward’s talk very useful and I found her work very inspiring how she works mostly with natural light and with a medium format camera. It is definitely the type of work I could see myself doing in the future.

PD2: Artist Statement

Artist Statement

Lucy Dack uses photography as a way to show her personal feelings about the world around her. She mostly takes a sociological approach to her work and is curious about how people interact with nature, each other, and themselves.
Street photography and portraiture are what she is mainly interested in and has taken influence from photographers such as Robert Frank, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Richard Avedon and Thomas Ruff. 
In her work she intends to make people reflect on their relationship with the photographs in order to achieve recognition on how they connect to each other through the world around them.

Written above is my artist statement, I think for now this will be my final draft until I feel I need to re-write it once I have figured out more what area in photography I want to go in to be able to make it more specific. I have left the introductions to my projects the same as I feel that they already say what I want them to. I could have made them more informal but I think that taking a personal approach works.

Intro to projects:

Canary Wharf

I wanted to evoke the feeling of alienation, to reflect how I felt about moving to a city. Canary Wharf was the best visual area in London which I found helped me present this feeling. There are lots of tall buildings and masses of people in suits; rushing to get where they need to be and not noticing me or my camera.

Let’s Get Drunk at the Graveyard

 I had a particular interest in the different perspectives of the church at Harrow-on-the-Hill. On first impression I was overwhelmed by the view, but when I turned around to walk back through the graveyard I was shocked by all the garbage that had been left on the ground; in particular, cans of beer and cider. I didn’t understand why people would do this; how is a graveyard an appropriate place to drink with your friends and then leave all your rubbish behind?  

 

PD2: Business card inspiration

I have now began putting together my physical portfolio to take to potential employers to look at. Inside my portfolio I will need business cards – something my potential employer can keep once I have taken my portfolio back. To look for inspiration I just typed in business card layouts into Google and it brought me to the site http://www.moo.com who have loads of different design templates that you can buy. I’m not sure whether I will use these as they are quite expensive but I really liked the design.

I want my business card to be very simple. I am debating whether to have one of my images of it or not, as I’m not actually sure which I would pick; which one would represent the way I work the most. As you can see the first design on the top left (On Target) doesn’t have a picture at all but is a very simple circle with the initial in the middle and the information on the back. I know this isn’t typical for a photographer but I very much like simplicity, and I think this is reflected in my work, and I could also come up with a similar design to go on my website so they match.

The last two (The line up and Great Escapes) both have images that cover the entire front of the business card, and have simple layouts for the text on the back. I think out of these two I prefer ‘The line up’ as the text on the back stands out a lot more than the grey on the black on ‘Great Escapes’.

Overall I found these particular business cards very inspirational and will take the designs from each of them into consideration when I begin designing my own.

Exhibition: Alec Soth

Alec Soth’s exhibition Gathered Leaves was his first major exhibit in the UK. It included four of Soth’s projects, Sleeping by the Mississippi (2004), Niagara (2006), Broken Manual (2010) and Songbook (2012-14). 

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Sleeping by the Mississippi exhibition space 

Sleeping by the Mississippi recounts Soth’s journey travelling the Mississippi’s 2000 mile course. He shot all of his photographs throughout the project using a large format camera, and you can really tell by the quality of the prints; how detailed the images are. The photographs were displayed around A3 size, the smallest sized prints throughout the exhibition. Included in each section showing his project there was a display case in the middle of the room showing Soth’s notes and books on the project.

Soth’s goal for this project was to show the association with water and escape; how the river directs us where it wants us to go and also relating to the wandering imagination.
Shown below are a couple of my favourite images from the project that were shown, they’re very dreamy and capture the way people live with nature.

Niagara was a series based around Niagara Falls, a place that has always been associated with love. Alec Soth said ‘When I think of the Falls as a metaphor, I think of a kind of intensified sexuality and unsustainable desire.’. Alongside his images of the Falls and couples who he has got to pose for him, and the motels her photographed there is a display which includes love letters he has collected which people have written to their loved ones. It was very interesting seeing these among his photographs. The prints within this section of the gallery were much larger than the previous, showing every detail in the photographs.

The third section of the exhibition Broken Manual explores the desire to run away. The project began with Soth researching Eric Robert Rudolph, the olympic park bomber, and man on the run hiding from the FBI. As he continued his research Soth found manifestos and communications on the internet by people who have chosen to remove themselves from civilisation.

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Broken Manual exhibition space.

This section of the exhibition was displayed a little differently, as you can see the walks are grey and there are lights illuminating each individual picture. The photographs are A3 or bigger, with some smaller pieces as well. In the display was Soth’s research and also his instruction manual, How to Disappear in Amerika (2009) scribblings which evolved into the book Broken Manual. Unlike the previous displays rather than having all colour photographs within this section Soth has included colour and black and white images. Another element done differently are the titles, instead of the information being where it was taken and the date etc. Soth has used photographers code, which was used in order to reflect on the symbolic language many of the hermits developed in their writings.


The last project shown in the exhibition was Songbook, this was a way for Soth to reconnect with the world after producing Broken Manual. For this project Soth took a more journalistic approach to his work and collaborated with writer Brad Zellar. They went on a series of road trips together across the country going from state to state including: California, Colorado, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Texas and in 2014 to Georgia. At the end of each day they would come together and match the stories Zellar write with Soth’s photographs.

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With this project all the the photographs displayed in the exhibition were taken in black and white.

The images were very interesting and went from bursts of motion to images that seemed to represent private moments between people. One of my favourites from the series is the bottom left titled Facebook, another aspect to Soth’s work was how now we are all more connected than ever, but someone we’re more disconnected than we ever have been. I found this a fascinating theme and it is something that I have been thinking about a lot how we are all so disconnected, only friends with each other through social media; never seeing one another in person. Yet Soth also obviously shows these bursts of interaction between groups of people, playing and having fun together.

At the end of the exhibition there was a short video showing parts of the making of Broken Manual it was very interesting hearing from the hermits that Soth photographed, seeing how they were living; hearing about his experiences with them. You can see the connection Alec Soth had to the project as he speaks to one of the hermits about how he would like a cave underneath his house, how he would like to live simply. The idea of escape was in his mind during the project.

Overall I found Alec Soth’s Gathered Leaves thought-provoking, it made me think about the world around me in a different way, as I sat in the Science Museum I thought about what Soth was talking about the idea of escape, how we should be free instead of in big cities. This is a feeling I first had when moving to London, going back home was an escape from the chaos that comes from being in a city.

 

Exhibitions: Julia Margaret Cameron

Julia Margaret Cameron: Influence and Intimacy; this exhibition was held to mark the 200th anniversary of her birth. Even though she had only been working in photography for 15 years she made an impact on the history of photography. She mostly took portraits of influential people but also took photographs of her celebrity friends, family, servants and also strangers. She also took a lot of influence from literature, basing her imagery on novels, and poems, in particular Bernardin de Saint-Pierre’s 1787 novel Paul and Virginia, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poetry.

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Image of the Julia Margaret Cameron: Influence and Intimacy exhibition taken from the Science Museums website. 

 

All the images shown in the exhibition were from The Herschel Album the original copy was displayed along side Cameron’s handwritten index of what was inside. When looking around the exhibition moving from plate to plate you can see how her work developed over time. Her portraits were the typical kind that you would have seen around the time as she used soft focus artistically; the critics of the time didn’t agree with this and put it down to her not being technically trained in photography. Cameron joined the Photography Society of London (now the Royal Photography Society) only 6 months after receiving her first camera as a present. She was a self-taught photographer who gained knowledge of the trade through trial and error.

It was really interesting looking at her work as I am currently looking at portraits for my on-going projects at the minute so it was interesting to see how Julia Margaret Cameron took them. They were very simple, she took away the background and props that were typically for the era and focussed on the sitters face. The soft focus that she used made the images look dream-like, especially those she took of children.

PD2: draft intro to projects and artist statement

Intro to projects:

 

Canary Wharf

 

I wanted to evoke the feeling of alienation, to reflect how I felt about moving to a city. Canary Wharf was the best visual area in London which I found helped me present this feeling. There are lots of tall buildings and masses of people in suits; rushing to get where they need to be and not noticing me or my camera.

 

Let’s Get Drunk at the Graveyard

 

I had a particular interest in the different perspectives of the church at Harrow-on-the-Hill. On first impression I was overwhelmed by the view, but when I turned around to walk back through the graveyard I was shocked by all the garbage that had been left on the ground; in particular, can of beer and cider. I didn’t understand why people would do this; how is a graveyard an appropriate place to drink with your friends and then leave all your rubbish behind.

 

 

Artist Statement 

 

Lucy Dack is a photography student currently studying at the University of Westminster. She uses photography as a way to show her personal feelings about the world around her. It is her own experiences that influence her work; using photography as a way to capture and understand them. She also likes taking more of a sociological approach to her work; looking at how people interact with each other and experimenting with how they perceive different things.
Street photography and portraiture are what she is mainly interested and has taken influence from photographers such as Robert Frank, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Thomas Ruff.

 

PD2: Exhibition visit

During our exhibition visit we went to take a look at the following exhibitions:

The Photographers’ Gallery
The Easter Rising 1916 Sean Sexton Collection
Saul Leiter Curated by Ingo Taubhorn and Brigitte Woischnik
Rosângela Rennó: Rio-Montevideo

Edel Assanti Gallery
People sometimes die – curated by Jesse Hlebo
Under Suspicion, Mykola Ridnyi

Frith Street Gallery
Bridget Smith: The Eye Needs A Horizon

The body of work which I found most interesting was by Saul Leiter. What drew me to his work was the subject matter, the selection of images and how they were presented. I am a big fan of street photography and so I found his images of unspectacular moments very visually interesting in the way they were composed. When looking at his work he seemed to take frames within frames to an advantage to get the viewer to focus on one person/subject. I also thought how he used the weather to his advantage was fascinating, especially his images looking through windows with rain dripping down then, making it almost impossible to see what it on the other side. This technique was similarly used with snow as he captured it falling down, focussing on it rather than the world around. Shown below are some examples of the type of work I am referring to from the exhibition.

The images were presented quite small with a white border and thin black frame. They were sectioned so that all of his colour images and black and white images were grouped together. There was also a section with his work for magazines grouped together with displays of the magazines; showing how the images would have been presented within the format of the magazine it was taken for.

The exhibition which I found had the most affective presentation was Bridget Smith’s The Eye Needs A Horizon (images shown above). This is due to the size of the images shown and how they are spaced in the exhibition. By having the images of the cinema seats so large it makes them appear more abstract and like waves in the see, at first glance of the photograph of the exhibition they do resemble waves. This is because of the shape of the seats in the cinema and also due to the blue tone of the images themselves. The video spread across several screens shows an unseen projector creating the light source. By not showing the source the viewer is left to guess what they are looking at; the specs of dust seen in the light resemble stars, carrying on the theme of something man-made appearing as something natural. Lastly there are prints hanging down the gallery wall like a curtain, just as the actual curtain would be falling in the cinema making it a very interesting mixture of installation and photograph.

By using different forms of presentation it changes the way we experience the work. When the images are small within frames hung on the wall we are forced to get closer to see the image; to inspect it. With projections of images onto the wall I feel you are more part of the work, you can walk in front of the image and you wouldn’t be able to see it. This is especially true with Rosângela Rennó’s work as you can press the button on the projector to allow you to see the image when it turns off, making you in control of what you see and what you don’t.

The text panels/titles in the exhibitions can have a big influence on how you view the work. With most of the exhibitions you were able to see the title and date of the image, but with some such as Bridget Smith and the work at the Assanti Gallery you were not given the information as on panels but rather on sheets of paper, I think without context; especially with the work at the Assanti Gallery it would have been difficult to understand what the work was about.

Each exhibition had a different purpose, The Easter Rising 1916 had a historical purpose as a documentation as to what happened in Ireland leading up to the Irish independence and how photography played a role in this; the audience for this exhibition would be people interested in this period of time. Saul Leiter’s exhibition included his photography work made during his career as a photographer and so is a celebration of this. His work would perhaps have a wider audience, especially of people interested in his work, or who have an interest in photography. Bridget Smith’s work I think would have a similar audience and would be viewed by an audience interested in art.
Compared to the previous exhibitions discussed Rosângela Rennó used projectors to display images by photojournalist Aurelio Gonzalez which were lost. By using the analogue projectors Rennó has taken the viewer back in time to view the images how they would have been presented when they were taken. The Assanti Gallery exhibitions had similar purposes and were used to make the viewer think about certain social and political issues.

I found all the exhibitions interesting to view and certainly opened up different ways of which you can present your work in a gallery space.