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Archive for the 'artists collective' Category

Shooting the city @ night with Christina Seely & her “Lux” project …

christinaseely_lasvegas_lux

A few weeks ago I was privileged to help out a wonderful US photographer Christina Seely  shooting her latest project “Lux”.  I became aware of her work after a call out on Mark Page’s excellent Manchester Photography website back in June.

A number of reasons prompted me to answer the request for assistance.

  • I checked out Christina’s website and I really liked her work.
  • Her own areas of interest happen to be ones I share a passion for too; namely the planet, our relationship with nature/the environment and the effect of one on the other.
  • Personally, I have found collaborations are a good thing if one has a gut-feeling to do it.
  • It presented a great opportunity to learn from a successful photographer who has drive, talent and belief in abundance.
  • A  measure of helping is always good for the Soul Department.

The gist of the “Lux” project as explained by Christina (from a blog interview with Plazm magazine) :

“A few years ago I rediscovered the NASA map of the world at night and I kept coming back to it over and over again. I was captivated by the beauty of the light on the map and also the complexity of what this light represents about us.  The conclusion is that this light obviously equals an intensely negative impact on the planet.  However, since it’s inception, man made light has also represented; ingenuity and progress, innovation, growth, prosperity, amusement, romance, optimism and promise – basically fundamentally positive and hopeful things. My real interest lies in this complexity and what it reflects about our current relationship with the planet.

The final body of work will be made up of photographs that document the artificial glow produced by the 43 brightest cities at night.”

This is a 4 year, worldwide project and a great deal of organisation, skill and research has been required for each of the shoots to go ahead.  Many artists mention their process when they discuss their work, when you read Christina’s “Lux” blog, one can gain a very real sense of this being more akin to a quest.   It highlights the efforts an artist has to put in behind the scenes to deliver; including battling an airport theft (Madrid) and a fire (Edinburgh).

My role for the Manchester and Liverpool shoots: location scout, navigator, car driver, equipment carrier, safety-in-numbers guard, torch bearer, stopwatch watcher, umbrella handler, local guide and regional catering advisor.

christina_and_camera

Christina uses a beautiful handmade 5×4 field camera to record her work, modelled by Christina in the above phote.   For “Lux” the aim is that the finished prints will be large and so the rendering needs to be as detailed as possible.    After copious testing, her chosen film for the work was Portra 100T negative, which presented a problem as Kodak decided to discontinue the whole range once shooting had commenced.  I think by scraping Ebay Christina should just get through to the end of the project (however, if anyone knows of any further sources then please do get in touch).  Average time for exposing the film was 3 hours.  This is due to the effects of reciprocity failure.

The spot I thought might work for the Liverpool shoot was Bidston Hill on the Wirral, close to Birkenhead (thanks also to Chris Coles for help scouting locations and research).   However, I must admit I was a little worried about wandering a lonely location such as this in the dead of night.  Due to it’s landmark windmill, it is a popular meet-up place for the local youth.  Thankfully,  despite the shoot starting around 11pm on a Friday night, we were bothered only by moths and a shooting star, a hooting owl provided the odd punctuation mark.  Manchester was captured from a field near the summit of Hartshead Pike, Mossley.  No threat of hassle, just a wonderful night sky, a few curious horses, low-flying bats, great company (Richard Brook from MMU also helped on this shoot) and a tiny bit of drizzle.  Both shoots were surreal, magical and very special.  I do not think I have ever sat and consumed the same scene for so long.

lux1_manchester

This project is now nearing completion as regards photography and there is already interest worldwide concerning possible sites to exhibit the body of work.  I cannot wait to see all of the filmic images displayed in one place.   Especially the shoots I tagged along for, will those two sheets of 5 x 4 film reveal the same things I conjured and remember so vividly?  Will they even make the finished cut … as I know some degree of image editing will be necessary.

A final footnote, Christina has been in touch to tell me about another project she is involved with called the Civil Twilight Collective who have been busily working on a fantastic idea: Lunar Resonant Streetlights.  It has been nominated for the prestigious Index Award (the world’s largest design award 500,000 euro prize-money) in the Community category.

lunarresonantstreetlights

There are some amazing ideas shortlisted, all along the theme of “Design to Improve Life”.  It merits a blog post of it’s own and if you have an interest in this subject you will find it well worth a visit.  Whilst there, you can cast your vote for the People’s Choice (I have) but be quick as voting ends tomorrow Friday 28th August when the winner is announced.

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“Where can I buy original Art in Manchester and why should I?”

The appetite for owning original works of art has grown steadily over recent years.  Maybe because it is one way to make a house feel individual in these times of flatpack ubiquity.  A well-chosen piece of art can reflect a chink of character of the owner and prompt a smile or moment of pause in the thick of our busy lives.  No bad thing at all and not something that often happens with a Billy Bookcase.

christophbangert

I’ve been asked the question a few times this year “Where can I buy affordable original art?”.  As I am based in Manchester my answer is somewhat limited but here are the options that I know about in my locality:-

  • ArTzu Gallery on Ancoats near the Art Deco Express Building.
  • Artland Gallery under the Quaker Meeting House opposite Central Library, Manchester.  An exciting new venue which ran a stunning exhibition of Jan Chlebik‘s  cityscape photography recently, latest exhibition is by New York Times photographer Christoph Bangert (see image above).
  • Blyths art gallery central Manchester.
  • Castlefield Gallery close to Deansgate Metro Station.
  • Colin Jellicoe Portland Street, Manchester.
  • Comme Ca Art various spots including upstairs at the prestigious Lowry Hotel, Salford/Manchester border.
  • Cornerhouse Projects (downstairs in the bar) close to Oxford Road Station, Manchester.
  • Cube Gallery (architectural related work)  see upcoming exhibiton from award-winning photographer John Davies.
  • Islington Mill, Salford/Manchester border.  Growing artists collective with studios and galleries, often special previews & shows.
  • The Lowry, Salford/Manchester border.  Has occasional exhibitions and work for sale from artists (often local).
  • Manchester Craft and Design Centre Favourite spot for emerging work, textiles, painting, photography …. all sorts.
  • Mooch Art new venture in Northern Quarter plus online gallery selling mostly local artists; painting and photography.
  • Revolve Gallery used to be Manchester-based, moved in Sept 2010 to an impressive space in Clitheroe (just north of Preston in the Ribble Valley).
  • Richard Goodall Gallery Northern Quarter, mostly illustration and photography linked with music promotion and posters, had Leonard Cohen’s work on show last year.
  • Waterside Arts Centre (Sale) nice Gallery space featuring local artists all media from painting, photography through to mixed meda and between.
  • Wendy Levy Gallery very respected Gallery based in West Didsbury top notch artists represented here including Liam Spencer.

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Finally, just in case you find galleries a little intimidating, then you might want to check out a new event on the calender, it’s the Buy Art Fair 24-27 Sept 2009 which enjoyed a very special inaugural launch last year with 3,200 visitors and over 200 artists on display, well staged at the nice, light and airy Urbis, Manchester.  Never spend more than the price of a new sofa, prove your skill at spotting new talent, support creativity and art, make your home original and breathtaking and you never know you might make some money on it too!

UPDATE : For an alternative take, check out a great blog run by a New York Gallery owner Ed Winkleman.  His blog is a really useful place to pick up terrific candid advice on the art world, the nitty gritty of running a Fine Art gallery and to see how sales are going on the other side of the pond.

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A funky Spanish illustrator found via ffffound

blancuchaillustration1

 

UPDATE ADDED:  5 March 2012.  I am very happy to report I was given a Limited Edition Blanca Gomez print for Christmas and it is gorgeous. It is now framed and has pride of place in my sitting room.  Such a wonderful design and beautifully packaged. Highly recommended from a happy customer :-)

Also I came across this great interview with Blanca in grain edit magazine if you fancy learning a little more about her creative process, background and influences with some images from her sketchbook, showing how one of her illustrations is built up over time.

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Sure as butter-side toast just loves a fluffy carpet, I seem incapable of ignoring a good bit of illustration.   Having a flick through ffffound the other day I discovered a Spanish illustrator called  Blanca Gomez, her website is  cosasminimas.com which is Spanish for “tiny things” and her own work matches up to such a beautiful name.

She runs her own blog and is part of a talented worldwide group of creative artists called the Goodfellas Network   http://www.goodfellasnetwork.com.   She has a healthy and varied amount of commissions already under her belt, both for commercial and editorial clients and has caught the eye of funky online printing outfit moo.com who feature her on their site as a designer to watch.  Blanca uses etsy, flickr, moo.com, her own site which has a shop, and the Goodfellas Network.   A great example of someone who really knows their market and illustrates how different tools can work in combination to bring prospective buyers to discover your work.

Were the “Best of Manchester Awards” any good? … in fact do Awards mean anything?

There seems to be awards being presented everywhere you look nowadays, so many in fact that it is impossible to keep up with everything.

I am all for being judged by your audience, critics and peers but one has to ask the question how impartial is impartial? Nowadays, I have no time for Awards with heavy sponsorship … step forward the Brits which is owned by the BPI (British Phonographic Industry aka the British Record Industry). It claims it’s aim is to be “supporting young people in music and education” aahhmm … surely it is about keeping British Music in the headlines and rewarding those that have mastered playing the game and who sell lots of records. I am not saying all Brit winners are talentless but it is just that, as far as I can see, the BPI are just handing out awards to those already successful.

More meaningful are those Awards which generate word-of-mouth and are trying to give a helping hand to those talented (often innovative) souls who have not yet cracked it. Here you may find artistic types who possess a huge belief, a love for their chosen field crikey some folk who might even be doing it for fun and not money.

The cynical amongst you will shout that all Awards by their very nature are never unbiased, yes, true I agree but I guess I’m just saying that some have their hearts closer to the right place than others and this is often down to the Judges sitting on the panel and whether there is any kind of hidden agenda to the Awards.

A check on the Judges for the 2nd “Best of Manchester Awards” held at Urbis recently were Peter Saville Graphic Designer and all-round Manchester Design Guru, Miranda Sawyer (writer, broadcaster), Luke Bainbridge (Music Journalist, Editor Observer Music Monthly), there was the head of A&R at Universal Music, with nods to respected bods @ Castlefield Gallery (Manchester) and Blueprint Music Studios and Elvis Jesus head honcho covering the fashion angle. So a pretty eclectic, informed and opinionated group. Things are lookin’ good.

300 entries fought to prove their work illustrated the best creative thinking and innovation in Manchester, things were wittled down to a shortlist of nine covering Art, Fashion and Music. There is an exhibition to accompany the Awards on the 4th Floor at Urbis until the 28th of September. From the work on show I had a couple of personal favourites … none of which turned out to be the eventual winner so there we go – what do I know !! Still I’d like the share them with you anyway :-)

I loved the graphics and ethos of the Red Deer Club “a small label with big ideas” and brainchild of nu-folk fan Duncan Sime.

On the 4th of May last year, UHC a socially-conscious Design Studio and Artists Collective who deal in “the finest blend of art, design and action” took to the streets. Helped by volunteers and “As part of a protest campaign against consumerism and climate change, 88 hoardings were covered with cream coloured ‘hoods’ emblazoned with the message, ‘trees breathe ads suck’.” (Manchester Evening News). UHC will always annoy some, but their work often seems to harness talent, invention and maybe a measure of eccentricity. Surely it’s not only me who applauds their aim to “present those traveling to work with a special gift – a few precious moments of peace and beauty in place of the incessant noise of advertising”. Wonderful illustrations too …

Finally I was rooting (pun not intended) for Paul Hartfleet to win in the Art Category with his Pansy Project. “Paul revisits locations where homophobia has been experienced and plants pansies. These self seeding pansies act as a living memorial to this abuse and operate as an antidote to it; some pansies wither whilst others thrive in car park borders and windswept road verges. Each Pansy’s location is named after the abuse received and the project is now worldwide with its very own website www.thepansyproject.com.

I know it appears I am blinkered, as his project heavily features photography and Paul’s current project features benches! but trust me, take a trip over to his own site and blog and see more of his fantastic work and ideas.

The actual winners were :

ART: Naomi Kashiwagi

MUSIC: Richard Cheetham, High Voltage

FASHION: Simon Buckley, Rags to Bitches

One final little footnote, I discovered a fab little Manchester band playing to the crowds at the Awards called Keith, a little bit Doors/Radiohead/Talking Heads all delivered with the customary Manc twang and swagger.

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