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Photography Down The Line

Author: Stills: Centre for Photography

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Photography Down The Line is a series of conversations between artists, photographers and the Director of Stills, a registered charity and centre for photography based in Edinburgh. Started during the time of the Coronavirus lockdown, this series aims to discuss, celebrate and share the ideas of artists at this challenging time.
31 Episodes
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Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Nicky Bird. Nicky Bird is an artist and Reader in Contemporary Photographic Practice at the Glasgow School of Art. Her current solo show Legacy at Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow, (27 April-6 June 2021) looks back at over fifteen years of her work. Nicky’s work investigates the contemporary relevance of ‘found’ artefacts, their archives and specific sites through collaborative art processes with people who have significant connections to a latent history. She is interested in how such artefacts, archives and sites carry both social and personal histories. This leads to a key question: what is our relationship to the past, and what is the value we ascribe to it? She has explored this through photography, bookworks, sound, the Internet and New Media. Dialogues with archivists, archaeologists, local community members, local history groups, and museum volunteers are instrumental in her practice. This means the collaborative process, and the physical site, shape the form of final artworks. Photographs are often the starting point for a project, and their relationship to a present-day landscape. Therefore, living memory – before it becomes ‘history’ – is an important link to all Nicky Bird’s projects, which is why the recent past is of special interest. Since 2007, the use of oral reminiscence and exploration of non-invasive archaeological methods have become embedded in her practice. While the final outcomes of her projects may take different forms (photographs for Beneath the Surface / Hidden Place, 2007-2010, projections and memory maps for Travelling the Archive, 2016, a physical model for Heritage Site, 2016), they share the themes of land and heritage, working with individuals and communities who have witnessed significant change. This means stories and memories of place, work and family life include an aspect of the ‘unmaking’ of place, whether through economic decline and/or regeneration.  For more information: www.nickybird.com www.streetlevelphotoworks.org
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Arpita Shah. Arpita Shah is a visual artist and educator based between Edinburgh and Eastbourne, UK. 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. Her work has been exhibited across the UK and 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 ABP in London (2018) Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow (2019) and Impressions Gallery in Bradford (2020). She is the recipient of the 2019 Light Work + Autograph ABP Artist-in-Residence programme in Syracuse NY and her work is held at the National Galleries of Scotland. Arpita is also a photography lecturer at the Open College of Arts, she also co-directs Fòcas Scotland and member of the board of trustees for Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow. www.arpitashah.com @arpitashah_ (Instagram) Arpita's recommendations included: Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow, online event series (see www.streetlevelphotoworks.org): 'Close Up: Colin Gray' 'Close Up: Margaret Mitchell' 'In Focus: Wendy Ewald & Noni Stacey Book Launches' 'Street View: Matthew Finn' at Belfast Exposed (see www.belfastexposed.org) Trine Søndergaard, 'Nearly Now' at Gammel Holtegaard, Copenhagen (see www.glholtegaard.dk)
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Tracy Marshall-Grant. Tracy is an Arts Director & Producer specialising in the production of photography exhibitions, festivals, education projects and workshops. She is currently Festival Director of Bristol Photo Festival and previously directed LOOK Photo Biennial 2019 while Director of Development at Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool. She was Executive Director at Belfast Exposed Gallery from 2014-18. Tracy has a rich background in the role and vitality of social archives, which inspires much of her work. She has a previous career as Director of Development for a number of international Arts organisations covering the development of work for classical music, visual arts and literature. Prior to this she had also been a Director of Campaigns for health, social welfare and education charities across UK & Ireland. www.bristolphotofestival.org www.northernnarratives.net @brsphotofest (Instagram) @BRSphotofest (Twitter) @northernnarratives (Instagram) @NorthernNarrat2 (Twitter)
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Louise Fedotov-Clements, Artistic Director, QUAD & Director, FORMAT International Photography Festival. Louise has been the Artistic Director of QUAD since 2001, and is the Director of FORMAT, which she co-founded in 2004. An independent curator since 1998 directing commissions, publications, performances and exhibitions. Guest Curator for international exhibitions/festivals including Dong Gang (Yeongwol) South Korea; Photoquai Biennale Musée du quai Branly Paris; Les Rencontres Arles, Discoveries; Dali Photo, China; Poikkeustila 2020 Finland; Venice Biennale EM15; Photo Beijing, and LishuiPhoto China; Korea International Photo Festival. An international awards advisor, she has contributed to numerous publications as producer/writer/Editorial Team and a juror, portfolio reviewer, speaker in Europe, America, Africa & Asia. www.formatfestival.com www.derbyquad.co.uk
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Christina Riley from The Nature Library. Christina Riley is an artist based on Scotland's west coast. Using photography, found objects, writing and installations, her work draws acute attention to the details of the natural world with a particular focus on the sea's edges. In 2019 she was longlisted for the Nan Shepherd Prize for Nature Writing and later that year started The Nature Library, a travelling library and reading space. Her photo series The Beach Today will be published by Guillemot Press in 2021. www.thenaturelibrary.com www.christinariley.co.uk @thenaturelib (Instagram and Twitter) Book, podcast and screen recommendations from Christina: The Infinite Monkey Cage podcast (BBC Radio 4) The Tidal Sense (BBC Radio 3) Rachel Carson (author) Rebecca Marr (photographer) Frances Scott (photographer) Holm Sound: Transmissions from Orkney The Book of Delights by Ross Gay Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer Richard Feynman, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out & Fun To Imagine Drowned River: The Death & Rebirth of Glen Canyon on the Colorado by Mark Klett / Rebecca Solnit / Byron Wolfe
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Francis McKee. Francis McKee is an Irish writer and curator based in Glasgow. His most recent books include How to Know What’s Really Happening (2017), Even the Dead Rise Up (2018) and Dark Tales (2019). McKee has been Director of the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow since 2006. He is a Research Fellow at The Glasgow School of Art. https://overoverover.com/Francis-McKee https://www.gsa.ac.uk/research/fine-art-profiles/m/mckee,-francis/
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Norman McBeath. Norman McBeath is a photographer and printmaker who lives in Edinburgh. The National Portrait Galleries in Edinburgh and London have over seventy of his portraits in their collections. His collaborations with poets include Plan B with Paul Muldoon, The Beach with Kathleen Jamie and Simonides with Robert Crawford. Simonides was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award and exhibited at Yale and the Poetry Foundation in Chicago. His latest book is Strath with Robert Crawford. Collections which hold his work include; the British Library; the National Library of Scotland; the British Council; Harvard University and Yale Center for British Art. www.normanmcbeath.com @normanmcbeath (Instagram)
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Roberta McGrath. Roberta McGrath writes on the history, theory and politics of photographic representation. She has worked as a lecturer and researcher at universities in the UK since the early 1980s. From 2004-15 she was Reader in Photographic Theory, History and Criticism at Edinburgh Napier University. In 2014, McGrath was awarded a research fellowship at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin. She has published widely and contributed to journals including: Feminist Review, The History of Photography, The Journal of Visual Communication, Portfolio, Ten:8, Variant and Source magazine. Her essay, ‘Re-viewing the Gaze’ examining the shifting theoretical and methodological terrain that has shaped understandings of the photographic gaze over the past 40 years, was published in S. Bull, (Ed.), The Blackwell Companion to Photography in 2020. 
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Frances Scott. Frances Scott (b. 1991) is a photographer from Orkney, currently based in Glasgow. She graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 2014, receiving first class honours alongside an award for her Critical Journal. Her work often focuses on journeys made through a landscape of personal significance, and since 2016 has been working on a long-term project to walk and document the coastlines of Orkney. Work from this series was exhibited at Stills in 'AMBIT: Photographies from Scotland' in 2019. She is a founding member of the Orkney-based Móti Collective. Her first photobook, Undertow, was published by Another Place Press in February 2020. www.frances-scott.co.uk @_francesscott (Instagram)
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen. Finnish born Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen is a founder member of the Amber Film & Photography Collective. Based since 1969 in Newcastle upon Tyne in North East England the collective established Side Gallery in 1977, dedicating it to socially engaged documentary photography. She works both as a photographer and a filmmaker, her long-term projects developed as exhibitions, books, and films include Byker, Step by Step, Hoppings, Writing in the Sand, Letters to Katja, The Coal Coast, Song For Billy, Byker Revisited and Today I'm With You. Konttinen’s photography and Amber’s films are inscribed in the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register. www.amber-online.com @amber_sidegallery (Instagram)
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Alan Eglinton. British visual artist Alan Eglinton tells his own story through his cross-disciplinary projects. His emigration to France at an early age, his wedding proposal to his South Korean partner or his working process are a few examples. His photographs and texts are very often of a poetic nature. However, he knows the risks of sentimental effusion and adds a pinch of sarcasm or self-mockery when he sees fit. Starting from Super Limousin, an early schoolbook in which he learnt French through the juxtaposition of words and cut-out catalogue photos, the interplay of both mediums runs throughout his practice. He explores the way photographs and words may amplify and expand each other, create graphic shifts in a sequence and, ideally, contribute to an active reading of the work. When taking photos, he responds spontaneously to scenes or states of lighting amidst the flow of the everyday. A strange gravity may lie behind pictures of an apparent serenity. Alan is drawn to the photobook, one of the central mediums of his creative output. He is currently exploring its narrative possibilities by means of his collaboration with international publishers and through the workshops he runs, in the particular the Edinburgh and Glasgow photobook clubs. www.alaneglinton.com Instagram: @alan_eglinton @edinburghphotobookclub @glasgowphotobookclub
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Alan Dimmick. Alan Dimmick was born in Glasgow in 1961. He bought his first camera (a Russian Zenith) in 1977, the same year that he converted the toilets in his secondary school annex into a darkroom. He went on to study photography at Glasgow College of Building and Printing from 1979–82 and was a founding member of Glasgow Photography Group, exhibiting at their inaugural exhibition in Hillhead Library in 1988. Early works were purchased by The People’s Palace, Glasgow and Scottish Arts Council in the 1980s and he exhibited in group shows at Collins Gallery, Glasgow the Pier Art Centre, Orkney and Inverness Museum & Art Gallery, among others. His work was part of the Contemporary Camera exhibition that toured Scotland in 1983. Since the mid 1990s Dimmick has documented the lively contemporary art and music scene of his home city, Glasgow, capturing many of the events that have shaped a significant period in Scottish culture. In recent years, his images have been included in various publications and exhibitions of his work have been held at Street Level Photoworks and the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) in Glasgow and Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh. He showed 25 works at SWG3 in 2019 and at Stirling University in The Pathfoot Building in 2020. In 2012, Glasgow Museums acquired a number of Dimmick’s photographs to add to their collection of contemporary Scottish Art. The book Alan Dimmick Photographs 1977-2017 was published by Stills in 2018. www.alandimmick.com @alandimmick (Instagram)
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Brittonie Fletcher. Brittonie Fletcher (MFA) is a British-American artist, educator and curator currently based in Edinburgh. Her work of the past decade has focused on connection to place, belonging and community - often tying in politics and the personal. She is an active member of Edinburgh LoFi and the Calotype Society. She has received awards, nominations and fellowships for her work - including the 7th Julia Margaret Cameron Award for Women Photographers; a nomination for the Royal Photographic Society's 100 Heroines; an Arctic Circle Fellowship; and recent sponsorship from Highland Park. She has exhibited internationally and her work has been published with Focal/Routledge Press and Random House as well as other publications online and in print. Her work can be found in collections such as the Preus Museum: Norwegian National Museum of Photography and the National Library of Scotland. Brittonie has held teaching appointments at the Royal College of Art, London as Media Instructor and Study Abroad teaching for Maryland College of Art and Missouri University. She is current faculty at Stills Centre for Photography Edinburgh and the Penumbra Foundation in New York, USA. Her curatorial work includes being Director of ACTINIC Festival, Juror for the Art of Research Imperial Innovations competition with the Welcome Trust, and the recent exhibition Photography In Print which ran at Edinburgh Printmakers from January – March 2020. www.brittoniefletcher.com Recommendations made by Brittonie during the episode include: Edinburgh Hacklab www.edinburghhacklab.com Edinburgh LoFi www.edinburghlofi.com Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert: Here Lies the Body, (Rock Action Records, 2018) Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, (HarperCollins Publishers, 2017) Lichen Dyes: The New Source Book by Karen Diadick Casselman, (Dover Publications Inc., 2nd revised edition published in 2003) The Science and Practice of Photography, an Elementary Textbook on the Scientific Theory and a Laboratory Manual (Classic Reprint) by John R Roebuck, (Forgotten Books, 2012) Photography With Emulsions: A Treatise on the Theory and Practical Working of the Collodion and Gelatine Emulsion Processes (1885) by William de Wiveleslie Abney, (Kessinger Publishing, 3rd Edition, 2008) Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World (Posthumanities), (University of Minnesota Press, 2013) Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane, (Hamish Hamilton, 2019) Slime: How Algae Created Us, Plague Us, and Just Might Save Us by Ruth Kassinger, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt USA, 2019)
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Louise Mclachlan. Based in Edinburgh, artist Louise Mclachlan works predominantly with digital photography. Finding it the most ideal tool to create, Mclachlan draws inspiration from many mediums including painting, performance, sculpture and cinema. In recent years Mclachlan has explored her own relationship within creating whilst living with long term health conditions. In September 2019, she launched Scope - a photography workshop aimed at teaching individuals living with long term health conditions the power in their perspective. www.louisemclachlan.com @louisemclachlan (Instagram) Resources, books and films recommended by Louise during this episode include: On Being Ill by Virginia Woolf - written in 1925 and republished by Paris Press in 2002. Disability Arts Online Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution - a documentary made in 2020, currently available on Netflix. Disability Visibility by Alice Wong. Published in 2020 by Crown Books for Young Readers.
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Kieran Dodds. Kieran Dodds is an award-winning photographer based in Edinburgh. After reading Zoology, he trained at the Herald newspaper group in Glasgow becoming an independent photographer after picking up a string of accolades including a 1st prize World Press Photo award for his self-assigned story: The Bats of Kasanka. A Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship allowed him to complete The Third Pole, documenting Tibetan culture in flux at the source of the Yellow, Yangtze and Mekong rivers. At the time of the Independence referendum, Dodds considered the myths and realities of his native Scotland. Land of Scots traces political and cultural narratives found within the country's diverse physical environments. The portrait series Gingers originated at the same time using a visual cliche to sift through assumptions of national identity but uses the trait to connect distant countries across political boundaries. In his more recent series Hierotopia we witness a new perspective on combating the ecological crisis, charting the role of ancient ideas on the protection of rural landscapes in northern Ethiopia. The work was awarded a Sony World Photography award and has been exhibited in LA, New York, London and Edinburgh. Dodds' work is represented by the Panos Pictures, London. www.kierandodds.com @kierandodds (Instagram)
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Kara Bell, Sarah Newall, Zoe Cook and Kyle Bruce, some of the current Stills Academy participants. Stills Academy runs twice a year as part of Stills School, an alternative photography school for 16—25 year olds who face barriers to accessing the arts. The Academy supports young people to develop photography skills at a pace and level that suits them. Over a 4-month period they have access to Stills' photographic production facilities to experiment and produce a new body of work for exhibition at Stills. Participants undertake exhibition visits and workshops and they attend talks from visiting artists. They are supported throughout the Academy by Stills' learning team and tutors who provide regular feedback and teach how to give and receive constructive criticism of their photographic work. The current Stills Academy students are: Kara Bell, Sarah Newall, Zoe Cook, Kyle Bruce and Zenub Fayyaz. Instagram: @stillsschool Kara Bell is an Edinburgh based photographer and visual artist who specialises in both traditional monochromatic photography and vibrant digitally produced prints. Instagram: @dallasboycows Sarah Newall is a Scottish photographer, based in Edinburgh. Often through portraiture, she attempts to evoke or depict an emotional state through careful consideration of creative direction, styling and accompanying text. Instagram: @shotbysrn Zoe Cook is an artist based in Fife who focuses on portraying her emotions, as somebody with mental health conditions, through the means of photography and film. Instagram: @_zoecookart Kyle Bruce is a Scottish creative artist from Edinburgh who has studied photography at Stills since 2019. He is interested in architecture and street photography in colour and monochrome. Instagram: @_kyle_bruce
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Sekai Machache Sekai Machache is a visual artist and curator based between Dundee and Glasgow, Scotland. Her work is a deep interrogation of the notion of self. Having been born in Zimbabwe and raised in Scotland, she has a particular interest in W.E.B Dubois’ notion of Double Consciousness, which expresses the psychological challenge of having African heritage whilst living in the West. She is interested in the relationship between spirituality, imagination and the role of the artist in disseminating symbolic imagery to provide a space for healing. Working in a multi-disciplinary practice, Sekai works with a wide range of media. Her photographic practice is formulated through digital studio based compositions utilising body paint and muted lighting conditions to create images that appear to emerge from darkness. Machache works internationally with her most recent work taking her to Brazil where she produced a cross-cultural project which was supported by a Creative Scotland and British Council partnership. She often works collaboratively, for and within her community and is a founding and organising member of the Yon Afro Collective. www.sekaimachache.com @sekaimachache (Instagram) www.yonafro.co.uk Books recommended by Sekai during this episode: Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017) White Fragility: Why it's so hard for white people to talk about racism by Robin DiAngelo (Penguin, 2019) In The Wake: On Blackness And Being by Christina Sharpe (Duke University Press, 2016) The Red Book by CG Jung
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Wendy McMurdo. Wendy McMurdo is an award-winning photographer who is interested in exploring the ways in which technology influences early learning. She exploits the artistic possibilities offered by scientific progress in her work and raises questions about the effect new virtual technologies have on human beings. Recent exhibitions have included; Between Realities at Färgfabriken, Stockholm Sweden (2018), Indeterminate Objects (classrooms) commissioned for the Media Wall, Photographers Gallery, London (2017). In 2018, she was named as named as one of the Hundred Heroines, an award created by the Royal Photographic Society to showcase the best of global contemporary female photographic practice. She is based in Edinburgh and is a Senior Lecturer (MA Photography) in the Institute of Photography at Falmouth University. www.wendymcmurdo.com
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Alex Boyd. Alex Boyd is a photographer, writer and curator whose work largely focused on studies of landscape and trauma. He is author of the Saltire Award shortlisted St Kilda - The Silent Islands and The Isle of Rust, a collaboration with writer and critic Jonathan Meades. He is currently undertaking a practice-based PhD in photography. His work is held in several national collections including the Scottish National Galleries, V&A, and The Royal Scottish Academy. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and the National Library of Scotland. In 2021 he will release two new books - The Point of the Deliverance and The Land of Maybe, a 3-year study of the Faroe Islands. www.alexboydphotography.com @mralexboyd (instagram) @AlexBoyd (twitter)
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Rebecca Marr. Rebecca Marr is a photographic artist born in the Highlands who lives in Orkney. She settled there after a residency over a decade ago with the Pier Arts Centre. Rebecca works across digital and analogue photography, often with the darkroom technique of photograms. Predominantly concerned with documenting the natural world, her work currently involves wild plants, sea, seaweed and clouds. Rebecca teaches photography at Orkney UHI and has worked with the Gunnie Moberg Archive at Orkney Library & Archive. She has an ongoing collaboration with poet Valerie Gillies and has worked on several publications, most recently, Orcadia, with Mark Edmonds. www.rebeccamarr.co.uk
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