Fringe TheatreFest 2009

I have been making documentary photographs since my time at College where this was my strongest work. I?m still very attracted to the tradition in it?s pure sense: shooting only under available light, being a witness to what actually happens rather than setting it up or manipulating events, being as ?invisible? as I could be so that my presence didn?t affect what happened, being objective, looking for ?decisive? moments, being open to the unexpected, anticipating what might make the picture and being amazed at what does make it.

The light was so low here that this image was made at 1sec exposure f4.5 and 2000iso

At the end of June, at the same time as Art Trek, Sadie and I photographed the Fringe TheatreFest in Barnstaple. We?d offered to do this as our way of supporting the festival this year (we were stewards in 2008). It became an interesting brief because we were unable to photograph any of the performances. There were no dress rehearsals so documentary was everything but the theatre performances.

It didn?t help that I had picked up teaching work in Tiverton which took me out of the Thursday and Friday daytime slots, and the weekend was spent at Broomhill doing my Art Trek residency.

There were 3 venues, the Baptist Church Hall and the Inn on the Square upstairs and downstairs with 21 different acts most of which did 3 performances. Most also did a ?tech? which involved anything from a full rehearsal with lights and sound to positioning a few lights in a 5 minute slot.

This kind of work though is very rewarding. I remember a restrictive graphics brief on a National Diploma course used to bring out better ideas than an open brief. Restriction brings us freedom, and there where lots of restrictions here both enforced and self imposed: imagine how dark a theatre is, then imagine there are no stage lights set up, then remember these are spaces that have been made into venues within a couple of days and you can start to appreciate how dark it was ? the cameras rarely had an iso slower than 1600, shutter speeds 20th of a second or slower, aperture wide open ? there was also the hike from one venue to the next hoping not to miss anything.

Sadie did a great job on her own when I was unable to be there getting this wonderfull ?Winograndesc? picture of Janice Connolly as Barbara Nice from ?Hiya and Higher?.

All of the photos can be seen on the Fringe TheatreFest Website:

Art Work made during Art Trek 2009

The last two weekends has seen me demonstrating my process for making camera-less images, sun prints, chemical prints, daylight print, leaf works or whatever you?d like to think of them as. I did this for Art Trek, at Broomhill Sculpture Park near Barnstaple, North Devon?s open studios event at the end of June.

There was a lot of interest with over 60 people visiting on the last Sunday alone. I was making work throughout Art Trek, the image above being the best constructed image made over the first weekend. I used leaves and more from ?throw-a-way? plants and trees rather than some of the more cultivated ones planted specially in the gardens. This particular image was made using stinging nettles and dock leaves, traditionally used as an anaesthetic for the sting; these plants can always be found together and are like yin and yang, sting and anaesthetic, positive and negative complementing the traditional photographic process I was using.

Over the last weekend I made a few single 5×7 inch unique prints from columbine, elder, ash and foxglove (there may have been other leaves etc and included 2x slugs that got in on the act by accident). These I sold at ?10 each once they were archivally fixed, washed and dried then mounted on foam board. I still have some of these left for sale for ?10 with free p&p through Europe, it?ll cost a fraction more for the States. If you?d like one please visit my main website:

This is an example of a 5×7 inch unique print made during Art Trek 2009

Art Trek

Suddenly I?m a lot busier than I was, fitting in 2? days teaching at East Devon College in Tiverton, I?ve lapsed in my blog writing. Neither have I made many new images recently, of the large ?art? variety, as my best camera lens is being repaired. But I see this summer as a very creative time.

On Thursday 28th May I?ll be promoting Art Trek on the quay, under canvas, at the Appledore Visual Arts Festival. Art Trek for real starts three weeks later and I?ll be based at Broomhill Sculpture Park between Barnstaple and Muddiford making camera-less images. This will be the first time that I have used traditional photographic chemicals and paper for eight years and it will be fascinating to see what I can make from the leaves I find in Broomhill’s wonderful gardens. This will be a taste of the Year of the Artist residency I did with an Arts Council grant in 2001. I?ll be next to the Broomhill Stables (which will house North Devon Art?s Square Picture Show) on the 20th, 21st, 27th and 28th June 2009.

Whilst preparing for this residency I came across a whole load of unfinished work that I made in 2001 at the National Forest in Leicestershire. I had been making so many new pieces during the Year of the Artist residency that most of them had never been constructed together and mounted; I had quickly moved onto other things in 2001. these ?old? new pieces will be shown whilst I?m at Broomhill, one of them will also be show in the Queens theatre Caf? Gallery, Barnstaple, during June.

I had hoped to do some workshops during the Tuesdays of Art Trek, but I?m now committed to teaching in Tiverton. However if the interest is there, I?ll be happy to do something like this later in the summer.