Art is rarely just created solely for the artist, often made as a commission or gift, but the majority of art sits in the public realm. Historically this was the gallery wall, the open studio, civic building or hotel lobby; but now even amateur artists and hobbyists can publish their latest work to potentially a mass audience through social media, the art critic’s judgement replaced by peer reviews and the number of likes it receives.
“Public art is art in any media that has been planned and executed with the intention of being staged in the physical public domain, usually outside and accessible to all.” Knight, Cher Krause (2008). Public Art: theory, practice and populism. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
Having a piece of sculpture installed into a city square by contractors is a typical example of public art but my experience of making a piece, in the 12ft x 5ft empty frame of a boarded up window, in a very public square over the course of 4 weeks takes ‘public’ to a new level.
The work, a photomosaic, was conceived 6 months prior to the installation, and submitted to Bideford Bay Creatives for inclusion in their Culture Show ‘art in non-gallery spaces’ for August – September 2015. Once the concept was accepted permission was obtained from the shop manager of McColls locally and nationally and of the building owner to use the blanked out windows for the piece. Permission was given so long as the artwork was temporary or was easily removable in the future.
As this was to be public art I wanted the public to be part of it hence the idea of a photomosaic which I estimated could be made from 700 to 800 separate images, many of which could come from the public realm. I had never made a photomosaic but my arts practice over the last 20 years, from triptychs made with a film camera to detailed interiors of sea caves have been achieved through constructing an image from many frames. I have also been teaching photography through this period and wanted there to be a learning element to the work also. With this in mind I approached Devon Youth Service in Bideford as a partner in the project so that local young people would get the opportunity to experience the photographic arts process and see their photographs in a public space.
Through experimenting with Artensoft Photo Mosaic Wizard software it became clear that a colourful, high contrast, graphic image would be needed to base the mosaic on. The theme of Culture Show was the River, and so I wanted to use Bideford’s iconic, historic longbridge, which dates back to the 13th century to build the work from.
The ‘frame’ I needed to fill was wide-screen in shape so I needed a view of the bridge head on, much like it is in Bideford?s coat of arms, however this is a view rarely seen as you need to be in the middle of the river to see it. I took up the challenge on a very low tide with sunshine highlighting the uneven arches of the bridge; and walked to the middle of the channel using a bamboo cane to check for sinking sand. Conscious of the incoming tide the initial photographic panorama was made very quickly. These images were stitched together in Photoshop?s Photomerge enhanced in Lightroom and then the saturation was increased to give me the graphic representation I was hoping for.
Photographic Workshops in Devon and South West, Autumn 2015
Digital Camera Skills – ?50
A practical days workshop learning to gain control over your camera, shutter speeds, aperture, ISO, flash etc, setting it up for optimum quality under any given lighting, and making better pictures through composition. Numbers limited to a hand-full. I also offer it on a 1:1 basis for ? a day for ?75
Saturday 10th October in Bideford, (10am-5pm)
Wednesday 4th November in Ilfracombe, (10am-5pm)
Half Day Intro to digital photography – ?25
A ‘sit around the table’ workshop to get to know your camera better. You’ll learn about shutter speeds, aperture, ISO, flash and setting your camera up for optimum quality.
Tuesday 3rd November in Bideford, (10am-1pm)
iPhoneography Workshop – ?25
A practical workshop to learn how to use your iPhone’s camera to take professional looking photographs and enhance those images on the go. Suitable for anyone with an iPhone. You will need to install a few cheap photo apps in advance which I’ll advise on when booking!
Friday 9th October in Bideford, (10am-1pm)
SmartPhone Photography – ?25
A practical workshop to learn how to use your Smartphone’s camera (Android, Windows or Apple) to take professional looking photographs and enhance those images on the go. Suitable for anyone with a SmartPhone. You will need to install a few cheap photo apps in advance which I’ll advise on when booking!
Thursday 22nd October in Barnstaple, (10am-1pm)
Sea Caves, Shipwrecks and the Rocky Shore (10am – 5pm) – ?50
An introduction to Dave Green’s own photography. Spend a day with Dave experiencing the secret coast, hidden at the far ends of a sandy beach, full of caves and shipwrecks. Learn how to make the best of your own camera under demanding landscape and lighting. tba
Painting With Light (Light Graffiti) – ?25 per photographer (but please bring a torch swinging friend at no extra cost)
An evening workshop celebrating the dark nights of the Winter. You’ll learn how to make ‘long exposure’ photographs using coloured lights, flames, sparklers, al almost full moon and hand-held flash
Saturday 21st November at Westward Ho!, (6.30pm-9pm)
Photographing your own Artwork – ?60 with lunch, tea and coffee provided!
I have a wealth of knowledge and experience of photographing 2D artwork, jewellery and ceramics and I’m willing to pass this on to artists eager to improve their own image making camera skills. Although this workshop is for a small group (max 4) I also offer it on a 1:1 basis for ? a day for ?75, or I can deliver the workshop in your own home or studio anywhere in Devon for ?125
Monday 19th October in Bideford, (10am-5pm)
Introduction to Photoshop (11am?6pm) – ?75 with lunch, tea and coffee provided!
Opening an image file and adjusting levels, contrast, brightness and colour balance. Rotating, resizing and cropping an image. Placing an image or images into a new file. Using layers and history. Participants will need to be computer literate i.e. use a computer on regular basis and understand the basic controls. Small group (max 4). I also offer it on a 1:1 basis in your own home or studio anywhere in Devon for ?175
Friday 6th November in Bideford, (10am-5pm)
I?ve just come to the end of two weeks of workshops for myself ?greengallery?, Beaford Arts, the Plough Arts Centre and BBC Blast. It?s funny how it all comes at once; but good that I now have a week dedicated to only the Bideford Folk Festival.
Everyone seemed extremely happy with all they achieved through the workshops, and organisers too, with many sessions being over subscribed; photography seems to getting very popular!
The workshops have covered the whole spectrum of photographic genre and it?s whole history (and pre-history): chronologically I started with the pin-hole camera, at Beaford Arts with a ?gifted and talented? summer school residential designed for school children. The technology of seeing an inverted image on the wall of a darkened room through light entering a tiny hole was known over 2000 years ago and noted by Aristotle. Being inside the room and gradually seeing the image of the outside world reveal itself on the walls, as our eyes adjusted to the lack of light, was a great thrill; repeated again with adults two days later with just as much excitement.
Adult students on my weekend course made pinhole cameras from boxes and tins. This is an incredible process as the raw material is simply a box or tin, made light tight through the liberal use of black tape, made non-reflective inside using black paper or card and having a lens (hole) made with a pin prick in a piece of silver foil which is then taped over a larger hole somewhere on the box. Exposures are made through the pinhole onto black and white photo paper, held in the box with masking tape. Another square of black tape serves as a shutter. That?s all there is to it and this image was made after about 5 hours of the workshop. The image above was made by ‘soon to be teacher’ Natacha Withoft.
Images without a camera follows with the making of photograms or as Man Ray coined in the 1920?s ?Ray-o-graphs?, the placing of objects on photographic paper, exposing them to light in a darkroom, then developing and fixing the image ? this process goes back to the very early days of photography 1840?s when Fox Talbot and others made similar images on light sensitive paper. Daylight prints or chemograms were also made, a similar process but with no darkroom, and giving wonderful warm browns, pinks, purple and yellow colours, with occasional greens where the paper was fixed (slightly) first and silver where a build up of the metal occurred on the paper.
To carry on in a chronological order I could give you two examples of long exposures which relate to the length of time one might have had to expose film or plates in the 19th century. One of my workshop titles for BBC Blast was ?Action Photography?, and one of my methods for recording action/movement was to slow it down and sometimes use flash to freeze it within the same image; this image shows my Blast students photographing a dance practice with as slow shutter speeds as they could use. The process was taken to a greater extreme at the Beaford residential where, after everyone feeling really tired by 8pm we took stock for an hour then carried on outside to experience night photography. Give a few young teenagers torches and you need to do little directing to make some great images. Everyone got fantastic pictures, even those who had no control over shutter speed managed to make images by combining layers of light rings together. This image of the Beaford Centre and students was a 1 minute exposure using a tripod to steady the camera.
Another successful project during the residential was making a joiner similar to David Hockney?s images made in the 1980?s. Students were encouraged to photograph each other in situ around the building; making many images which were then printed out and joined together to make life-sized images. This one, slightly bigger than life, will be made permanent through wallpaper pasting the images onto the door then sealing it with yacht varnish.
Coming right up-to-date all of the BBC Blast workshops, the Plough Arts Centre and most of the Beaford residential were based around getting more out of digital cameras. Time was spent on all of these understanding the basics; aperture, shutter speed, focal length, ISO, exposure etc; setting the cameras up for optimum image quality and making more interesting and engaging images for any given subject. Using the past as inspiration to visualise the future.
Experiencing life inside a camera, a converted bedroom at Beaford Arts.