Photography Down The Line with Nicky Bird (recorded: 3 May 2021)
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.
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