On the 18th of June Redeye, The Photography Network organised Hothouse in Manchester.
I have briefly mentioned the event before, but Hothouse gives any kind of photographer an opportunity to present their work in front of other photographers, interests and artists.
I applied back in May to present my “End Of Life” celebration project – give the project life after the course.
I previously considered to put myself forward for similar shaped event in Hull – Illuminate, but I never had the “body” of work, something that is more than just photographs.
“End Of Life” has been a project with a greater meaning and I have been personally involved in every bit of it. I often call it my “baby”, something that I’ve done from the depths of my heart and really want to continue explore the end of life stages.
Redeye were interested and I was invited to speak and present my controversial [to some] project.
For weeks I was excited and nervous and the day before I prepared for the presentation.
I created a PowerPoint presentation and the plan was to accomplish that with my own words.
I prepared topics to talk about for each slide, taking in account that I have to explain the whole thing in just 10 minutes. Real challenge to present this project in such short time – it took me four months to get this project down to paper and fully acknowledge.
The day came quickly and we [my boyfriend was the assistant, driver and supporter for the whole day] set of early.
We arrived at the venue first, I was not too shocked by that – I like to be an early bird.
We signed in, settled the postcards and decided to have a little walk around Manchester.
In a separate post I will show you the grungy and beautiful area of Manchester where the Hothouse took place.
The part of Manchester where TheStudio HIVE was impressive. It was different than similar areas in Hull, there was so many studios, galleries and cafes linked to art. At one point I even went into Arts Council England.
After a short walk and coffee, I went back to settle down and get ready to present. I was second to speak from 16 other photographers.
I was not nervous at all before the actual presentation – I got it covered, because I know the project inside out. Ha!-the nerves kicked in after I stepped on to the pedestal.
My boyfriend filmed the presentation which I still haven’t looked back at – there are few reasons.
The nerves took over the common sense and I even did not look at the notes – my head was full of secondary warnings – look at the notes, calm down. I think I communicated well, there was a few moments where I did not make sense [I think], but overall I told the story. I missed few important facts, but overall people had a really good reaction.
It is important to note that after the first speaker, Mark Peachy, there was no questions. It might have been because he gave enough facts and explained the project and photographs fully…or it was ..erm…average. Not sure.
When I finished the presentation there was so many hands up – this is my favourite part about the “End Of Life” project -the discussion and constructive criticism.
I was super excited to hear what people thought and any comments that could improve my future work.
There was a lot of positive reactions and some said – leave the Martin Parr approach and focus on what you already do – beautiful captures of the end of life. Ahh, really good comment, because I might have already organically stepped away from that original idea, but not realised just yet.
In the first section I had an opportunity to see other two photographers and than in a break time – reflect on the presentation and the speech.
In the break times – in total there was four brakes between the sections where people can gather for a chat, discuss the portfolios and presentations, and make friends.
There was quite a few people approaching me with feedback, questions. One of them was Dr. Afzal Ansary a representative from Royal Photographic Society. He congratulated me on good presentation and great project. He gave me some constructive criticism and said I need to start focus on one or two major project parts and start narrowing down the ideas.
He also invited me to present the “End Of Life” project at the RPA event in July. I was my honour and was feeling the excitement, although I realised I will be away when the event is on. I still need to get in touch with him and propose to present at other RPS events in the future.
In whole-the day was so good, overwhelming and educating. I did think that my project stood out definitely and I feel like I can continue now.
I will also briefly go through my favourite photographers and their projects.
Mara Acoma was presenting two projects and both were really interesting and captivating. Both projects are part of her MA so I was kind of relating with her, as mine is part of BA.
The Etropy Garden – The Entropy Garden is an art project as well as a real garden. The project is looking at how nature takes over the man-made.
This image is from her website and although it is not the final image, I really love the actual image as it essentially shows her as an artist.
E/utopia is the second project Mara presented. The e/utopia project is an exploration of the ideas of utopia and eutopia. It explores the idea of a journey to e/utopia and how such a unique journey can also be universal.
Mark Epstein is a documentary photographer and senior language tutor at the University of Manchester. Combining images and text, A Random Walk to Graphene is a window onto working lives and the vision of those engaged in a remarkable enterprise.
When searching for his website and online photographic presence, I have discovered that he is actually a proper documentary photographer with the stunning images. You can check out his website here: Mark Epstein
My notes from the event says – “his presence is astonishing and text really accomplishes the photographs. He doesn’t realise his potential.” But by looking at his website – he was not revealing the full story.
Drew Forsyth is a photographer from Manchester.
In the Hothouse, Drew presented his dance photography work, which was brilliant, but he is versatile and talented commercial and portrait photographer.
He say’s about his dance photography:
“Whenever I’m asked about the kind of work I like to make, dance is always the first thing I say. Working with an amazing dancer is like working with an amazing athlete. Their tireless perfectionism, attention to detail and stamina is just something else, and these guys won’t stop until they get breathtaking images – and neither will I.”
The photographs presented had a hint of commercial photographer, but I found it fascinating that he is able to connect these two genres and create stunning and precise images of dancers.
Elaine Duignenan is a photographic artist based in London. She has exhibited internationally and has work in collections which include the V&A and The Museum of Fine Art in Houston. Her work is represented by Klompching Gallery in New York. Alongside making her own series of work for exhibition, she undertakes artist residencies and works alongside institutions such as Wellcome Collection to devise and deliver special projects. In late 2009 one of her images was flown to space by Astronaut Leland Melvin on the Space Shuttle Atlantis.
Before she presented her work, I was chatting with her and she seemed to be nervous and really worried if she can deliver. Well… I have a feeling that she was being too harsh to her work, but looking at the facts that her work is exhibited in New York – no worries.
The work Blossfeldt’s Apprentice is her painstakingly made objects out of twisty ties in attempt to recreate Karl Blossfelddt’s iconic plant structures.
An interesting thing about her presentation and work was the technique in what the objects are photographed in. All the way through I thought it might be scannography, although one image looked like being photographed. And at the end someone asked the technique and I was right – she uses advanced scanner. It is amazing to see how the scanner has picked up such precise detail.
She was also really lovely and gave me a good feedback to my “End Of Life” and the whole interest in death, funerals, grave yards and end of life.
I kind of felt like the conversation between artists about my project means more than the conversation I rise in public…I need both sides to take part in my journey, so it was so good to see some external views from artists perspective.
Lee Price is another speaker from the event.
There is not a lot of information about him available, but the project “Against the Order of Nature” is the focus point.
“My work predominantly focuses on the male form, often exploring the sociological and politically influenced attitudes and reactions to sexuality, amongst the public and in the media. This can range from commentary on the cultural exploitation of sex and sexuality to the impact of social responses to sexual orientation and expression. I like to pose questions and provoke reactions within my work, hopefully raising debate surrounding issues I feel ought to be addressed for one reason or another.”
There is no doubt about the subject matter and the questions and awareness he raises with his series.
My notes on the booklet says – How can you make a topic/issue like that photographically different from other work done previously?
I found that the topic of the series was more powerful than the photographs. But he has definitely been through an eye-opening journey and has been deeply involved with the people in Uganda.
Lee was clearly not used to public speaking so the video he showed at the end gave the series more context.
Natalie Wardle can be described in one word – ace!! Her presence at first felt really “over the top”, but I kind of fell in love with her during those 10 minutes.
Control was the project she presented and her work explores and questions femininity, the things females go through to fit society’s ideal body type. I focus on the way clothing can constrict the female body. Focusing on undergarments such as control pants I present a humorous reflection on how the clothing meant to improve ones look is actually rather unflattering to look at on its own.
Another thing she mentioned was the Tit Tape project that I found fascinating.
The reason why I really, really enjoyed her presentation and work was the rawness and originality. Natalie is following her passion and I closely related to her – as crazy as your “dream” project can be, as long as you stick to your guns and passion, you can deliver extraordinary images and story.
She is one of the presenters that I am curious about and will follow her work to see what she does in the future.
Keeley Bentley has currently graduating from her Ba Hons in Photography at Blackpool & the Fylde College, she is then moving onto a MA in Photography at Manchester School of Art in September 2016.
Her work is described as “this work sits on the cusp of where a girl is available and when she is not – Lolita Lust”
Keeley uses Medium format film camera – brilliant, image series are beautiful and clever. She bases a lot of her work on books, fictions, so as this one.
During her presentation, Keeley revealed that she prefers not to talk about Lolita Lust and allow viewers to make up their own stories around the photographs.
Christopher Bethell and his personal photo series about his search for the truth about his grandfather – Chris is dual-national; both citizen of The United Kingdom and The United States. Until three years ago Chris believed an elaborate fiction about his family’s history. Last year he stepped foot into America for the first time, following Granfather’s path from east to west.
Chris Bethell’s story written in the blog is even more capturing than the photographs, and at the event I was stunned by his work. This must be the place is a captivating story, beautifully captured by Chris.
He has done a really good job of protecting is images and so to those who are interested- check out his website/blog.
At the event I admired his photographs -down to earth and real. It feels as if he has copied what the eye see’s and some how got that on photo paper – it does sound strange, but that is how I felt.
And whilst trying to nick some images, I have discovered more extraordinary captures of the world around us.
Another reason why I loved his work was the ability to relate. Hi is searching for answers through photographs and I kind of do that myself. My project is different, but the common elements are linking each other.
On the day, there was more photographers than you can see here, but I though I keep this short and sweet.
Excellent organisation from Redeye and TheStudio. I really hope to go back on day and maybe join the Redeye Photographic network.
There was a few sudden reflections from myself and my project.
I took “End of Life” project out of its usual frame – Hull, Uni, people close to the project and the known environment where it was born in the first place and suddenly it changed its shape.
I discovered that I have put a very personal and Latvian bias on the project and that I should continue to focus on the cultural differences, because that is what makes this photographically attractive to others. And I also have to give myself a pat on the back – considering the limitations and circumstances I have at least 15 great images.
Also, as mentioned at the beginning – keep the love for Martin Parr, but never mention the relationship between my love for Martin Parr and “End of Life” in the same sentence. It is only me that can understand why and in all fairness – in the back of my head – have I really used that approach? This is another exploration awaiting.
It was my honour to be able to present the project to a different audience and I look forward to continue working on “End Of Life”.
Next thing – Latvia and image revisit images taken in the United Kingdom.
In the next couple of weeks I will also be official volunteer at the Dove House Hospice and get stuck in on “End Of Life”.