18th August 2016 – Rock Against Racism ‘Feed Your Mind’ with Paul Furness

It seems evident that Rock Against Racism was and still remains to be a crucial movement within the UK that aims to stand up against racism. From 1976 to 1981, the movement was gaining more popularity by the second and punk/reggae music was becoming widespread across the UK. But what was interesting to note is how Rock Against Racism had a strong northern following, and the Leeds RAR club was one of the most important and long-lasting. Now this is where Feed Your Mind comes in as Paul Furness, who was significant in running Rock Against Racism in Leeds, talks more about his experience within the movement and also what Rock Against Racism was like in Leeds.

Many people attended the event and for some of the visitors, it was almost as if they were reliving their experience of Rock Against Racism in Leeds as some of them told us how they remember going to the gigs and clubs in Leeds.

What made this event even more special was that the talk was being broadcast live on BCB radio, so that all the local listeners could tune in and listen to Paul’s talk. I was amazed to hear Paul speak about the movement in Leeds as I almost couldn’t believe that this movement had such a big impact on Yorkshire. It was reassuring to know that the Yorkshire people got into the spirit of Rock Against Racism and stood up against racism. But from what Paul had told us, it wasn’t an easy journey. He recalled how Leeds Rock Against Racism were in a constant battle against the National Front and racists and how some of their gigs and clubs would be trashed by members of the National Front. He also spoke about how people who wore the Rock Against Racism badges were in danger from Nazi groups as they would be hassled or even beaten up for wearing the badges – most of them had to take them off for their own safety. It shocked me how Leeds was quite hostile during the 70s and how it was a bit of a scary place to be in. (That’s the complete opposite now.) But despite their struggle against racism, it is impressive that they remained strong and carried on with the gigs and clubs.

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Taking a closer look at some of the memorabilia that Paul has lent, he explained how some of the posters were made by professional graphic designers such as Syd Shelton and others were made by hand by the members. Looking at the posters that were made professionally, graphic designer David King was responsible for the creation of some of the iconic posters for the Anti Nazi League. I know it shouldn’t baffle me when I learn that well-known artists were involved with Rock Against Racism, but it still does. Just to drop in a few more names that might sound familiar, Paul remembered how some of the teenagers who came to the RAR events grew up to do remarkable things. These were individuals such as Damien Hirst and Marc Almond. I can imagine that it must be strange to say that you met these artists when they were younger and were involved in a grassroots movement.

If you’re reading this and you’re wondering what the gigs at Leeds Rock Against Racism looked like, then fear not for Syd came to Leeds and took some photos of the concerts, which can be seen in the exhibition. It is definitely a sight to see such a diverse group of people coming together and Paul explained how there were so many fans pouring out of the countless buses. I suppose one of the many reasons that the eager fans flocked together in Leeds was due to the fact that bands such as Skully Roots, The Specials, The Au Pairs and Piranhas would be there. I still think that it’s amazing but strange that this was happening in Yorkshire.

The talk was concluded with a Q&A and there were some interesting questions being asked. For instance, someone asked Paul what he thought about punk/reggae music and why he got into Rock Against Racism. His answer to the first question was that punk is like a breath of fresh air, wiping away all the stale and pompous music that dominated everything. (I thought that was a great answer!) For the second question, he answered that he joined the movement because he wanted to fight back against racism and to this day he can’t understand who benefits from racism, and I thought this was a really good because racism is just another aggressive form of bullying, and nothing is really gained from it.

One question, which I thought was really interesting was when someone asked Paul if we are seeing a similar rise of racism like the UK did during the 1970s and this individual also commented on how young people nowadays aren’t as passionate as they were during Rock Against Racism, that they’re not as willing to stand up against racism. This is a question that is almost asked frequently at the gallery from passing visitors as they comment on the situation with the EU and how it is uncanny that Rock Against Racism almost mimics what has happened now. (Hopefully we’re not seeing a repeat of the 1970s.) Paul’s response to this was that racism hasn’t really vanished, it’s just morphed into something different. But despite that, he explains how he feels that Rock Against Racism is such a colourful movement in a monochrome society of racism.

And from a personal point of view, I would argue that us young people are still passionate and would definitely stand up against racism. If they don’t believe me, then they should take a look at the students up at the university.

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‘Feed Your Mind’ at Impressions Gallery with Prof Daniel Brockington by Asiya Hussain

The exhibition of ‘Hunters’ by David Chancellor definitely makes you think about the way in which the hunting industry is represented, but it also makes you think about how you, as an individual feels about hunting. I feel that when looking at this exhibition, the recipient will either feel a great hatred towards hunting due to the images of the deceased animals, an understanding towards the functions and benefits of hunting or to view the exhibition with an understanding that this is what hunting is, to some extent. From a personal viewpoint, I strongly detest hunting as it is unnecessary killing which is not needed. When looking at the exhibition for the first time, I have to admit that it did make me feel slightly uncomfortable due to the images of such majestic creatures being killed and skinned, then to be later placed within a living room or placed on a mantle as a mere trophy

Trophy room, West Texas, USA © David Chancellor-INSTITUTE

Trophy room, West Texas, USA © David Chancellor-INSTITUTE

 

But when looking at the exhibition more closely, it becomes evident that the photographer is neither attempting to glorify the hunting industry or portraying the message of how horrible hunting is. Even though some of the photographs may be upsetting for the animal lovers such as myself, the exhibition provides a neutral perspective towards hunting and bringing to light that hunting still exists. Within the exhibition, there are a number of photographs in displaying the different aspects within hunting; from target practise to the process of preserving the different parts of the animal. But I feel that the photographs with the women next to their ‘kill’ provides an interesting perspective towards how they react differently when near the creature. For instance, the photograph of the elderly woman next to the dead wildebeest suggests that she feels some remorse and sympathy towards this creature. From a personal viewpoint, I felt quite confused when looking at this photograph as it didn’t make sense why she is displaying signs of maternity and care towards a creature she has killed herself. When looking at the photograph with no indication towards the context, you come up with a variation of different possibilities as to what has just happened, what is going to happen and why this has happened and I feel that this is beneficial to some extent as you are able to view them without additional information and to create your own narrative from the exhibition.

On the 6th November, the event ‘Feed Your Mind’ provided the public with some useful information towards how the exhibition of ‘Hunters’ can be viewed from different perspectives, other than the obvious view of morality towards killing wild animals. Professor Daniel Brockington provided some interesting and thought-provoking information in regards to the exhibition which helped to broaden my own perspective towards hunting.

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Daniel began by talking about how hunting is one of the many forms of tourism within Africa, in bringing in people from abroad in order for them to partake in the ‘sport’. Tourism, obviously, results in a financial gain for Africa, but it is interesting in seeing how hunting is important towards the financial benefits for the hunters, the trackers etc… in creating a sort of ‘economical boost’ for the local communities who assist with guarding the conserved parts of land specifically made for the animals which have been selected to hunt down. As the talk progressed, Daniel explained how surrounding the National Park, there are game reserves for the hunters, which made the barrier clear between the land you can hunt on and the land that you can’t. The whole notion of ‘game reserves’ which have been made specially for hunters is quite intriguing as Daniel described how hunters are becoming more inventive with the species they breed for hunting, in selecting certain breeds and to some extent, creating a new species which can only be found within a game reserve. I found it difficult to come to terms with the fact that particular species are being selected and produced, only to be killed by someone who feels they have some immense authority and power over this majestic creature.

 

However, as the talk progressed, Daniel was elaborating on the concept of how hunters have helped in introducing the Eurocentric expectation of hunting, to produce the message of hunting being exclusive for the privileged Europeans and what they should be doing. This began to make more sense as when I viewed the exhibition for the first time, myself and my sister noticed that most of the hunters being photographed next to their ‘kill’ belonged to a privileged European background – the biggest aspect being that they were white hunters. Looking back at the concept of the ‘Eurocentric’ hunting, Daniel explained how there was the idea of having access directly to the wildlife of Africa and to restrict African hunting so that European hunting could flourish in the future and not being deprived by any African hunters.

Furthermore, Daniel brought up the concept of Tarzan which was interesting as he elaborated further in how Tarzan represents one of the myths of the white man saving the wildlife and being the hero. Tarzan is not a representative of the continent but more for the white majority of the world. In seeing how he is portrayed in the classical films, he is not one with nature to start with; he wears furs from animals he has killed which contradicts the ‘hero’ concept. But within later adaptations, he begins to become closer with nature but ultimately remains to be the white wild man.
In addition to this, there was the contemplation around the word ‘Africa’, what does it mean to some people and what images does this word in particular conjure up? It seems that this word has become generalised, in meaning the wildlife with jungles filled with exotic animals. In addition to ‘Africa’ becoming a general meaning with no clarity, Daniel describes how within hunting, there lies within the origins British aristocracy, the idea of capturing such wild animals and to relive that ‘moment’ in having the animals skinned and mounted on their mantle place at home.
When trying to understand the cause or reason behind hunting, the usual reason which everyone jumps to is poverty, that some local communities hunt down certain animals in order to support themselves, their families and being the only way to gain any money. But as the talk progressed, it seems clear that poverty alone is not enough to be the driving force behind poaching and hunting. When thinking of why hunters hunt, it seems evident that this industry has become a part of their lives and would seem almost impossible to remove.

This event of ‘Feed Your Mind’ proved to be most eventful and productive in providing some context towards the hunting industry, but also in showing the role that photography plays within the portrayal of Africa. It is apparent that Professor Daniel Brockington has enabled us to view this exhibition as being an instrument in conveying the message of hunting from the rest of the world.

Review by Asiya Hussain: Artist Talk with Document Scotland

Beyond the Border explores the different perspectives of Scotland from four Scottish photographers, bringing them together to portray the uniqueness of Scotland. For those of you who have seen the exhibition, you may be thinking, “What inspired these photographers and how are they all connected within Beyond the Border?”

Well, in further providing the public with some interesting information which will stimulate your mind about the exhibition Beyond the Border, Impressions Gallery held a talk on the 26th July which provided an insight towards the personal and historical meaning of the exhibition. The talk was lead by the photographers who collaborated in making the exhibition; Sophie Gerrard, Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert and Colin McPherson. Unfortunately, the photographer Stephen McLaren, who worked on the piece American Always, Scottish Forever was unable to attend the talk but Anne McNeill was able to provide some input towards his piece in explaining what it means. It was amazing to attend this talk as I gained an understanding of how each photographer has a different yet similar outlook towards Scotland and how each piece is distinctly unique to the other, despite their clear linkage in being based in Scotland. Even though it was an incredibly warm and pleasant day outside, that didn’t deter people from coming to the gallery enjoying the thought-provoking talk along with the cool refreshments being served. As requested from Document Scotland, the talk was very informal and casual in order for everyone to just relax and enjoy the flow of ideas and thoughts surrounding the photographs and of Scotland.

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Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert Edge of an Empire

Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert was the first to being the talk by exploring his project ‘Edge of an Empire’. work places focus on historical aspects of Scotland which are not well known have been forgotten over time. In discussing and exploring his project, he takes us on a journey through Scotland and also shows us how this project portrays his reconnection with his homeland. He began by discussing how for the past 10 years he was living in Japan and even though he had become accustom to the lifestyle in Japan, he still felt a strong connection with Scotland, the land itself and it’s cultures and customs. Jeremy stated that he wanted to work on a project which would explore modern Scotland but also to revisit it’s past as well and it seems clear from the variation of photos of the Antonine Wall, Roman soldiers and the local stores, that he has achieved his aim.

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When the topic of the Antonine Wall was introduced,  I became very intrigued as I had no idea that there was another wall within Scotland that wasn’t Hadrian’s Wall. There was a clear display of reconnection between the photographer and the land as he explained how he took a walk on the wall so that he could feel the Scottish weather on his face after 10 years of Tokyo humidity. The history behind the Antonine Wall was quite interesting to hear as Jeremy explained how no one was really certain as to why the wall was built – was it in order to expand the Roman empire or merely something for the Emperor Antoninus Pius to boast about?

What I found to be interesting as the discussion proceeded was when Jeremy explained that when he was exploring what remains of the wall, he had discovered how parts of the Antonine Wall had become lost to modern development, modern towns, motorways and canals had cut through the wall. From a personal viewpoint, this definitely made more sense to as to the relevance of the photograph of the NEXT store, representing the emergence of modern Scotland from it’s past.

The Antonine Shopping Centre, Cumbernauld Friday 3rd May 2013 © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

The Antonine Shopping Centre, Cumbernauld Friday 3rd May 2013 © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

In addition to the Antonine Wall, Jeremy also discovered through his research that there is a group known as the ‘Antonine Guards’. The Antonine Guards promotes the Roman history of Scotland through re-enactments of past events and in promoting sites such as the Antonine wall which became part of the UNESCO world heritage site. I thought that it was amazing that this group promotes Scottish history which has been lost or forgotten over time, to educate people through festivals, school visits, special events etc… Jeremy explained how the men dressed as Roman soldiers were very committed to their role and also very knowledgeable in Roman

military history and of the Roman Empire. But it was funny to learn how the group avoided contact with a puddle by tip toeing around it, so that there woollen socks wouldn’t get wet, but only to be reprimanded by their Centurion leader as he shouted “Just walk through it, you’re meant to be Roman soldiers!” Looking at the photographs of the Roman soldiers, Jeremy placed emphasis upon the fact that he didn’t want any of the men to be looking at the camera as he wanted to represent an anonymous Roman soldier rather than being focused on one particular soldier. If they were to look at the camera, then it would become a portrait of that one person and I felt that this was quite ingenious as the lack of eye contact leaves room for the soldiers to be acknowledged as a whole.

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Sophie Gerrard Drawn To The Land

The discussion was then passed on from Jeremy to Sophie as she began to discuss her project of Drawn to the Land. I really enjoyed listening to her discussion and exploration about her project as it places focus upon the women working in Scotland and provides them with a voice as they remain to be unheard in this area of work. Sophie started out travelling and working as a photographer in order to make her work. Most of her work consists of environmental issues, land use, toxics and the impact it has on the people as well as the landscape. Similarly to Jeremy, she wanted to reacquaint herself with Scotland, particularly with the landscape and in educating herself about the terrain. There was also the exploration of the land use, land conflict and of environmental issues surrounding the landscape, but she felt that she wasn’t really getting underneath the surface of the landscape, she needed to go further. When she made the comment of referring to herself as a ‘city girl’ and not knowing much about the Scottish landscape apart from the car drives into the countryside when she was younger; I thought this was an interesting remark to make as she has gone outside of what she knows, into something foreign and alien to her to some extent and yet she has managed to extract the beauty of the Scottish landscape and to learn the intimate stories of the female workers on the landscape.

 

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When looking at the women who manage the landscape, Sophie felt naturally drawn to them in wanting to know more about their lives. When thinking of the people who manage and work on the landscape, initially we think we think of the men from the patriarchal histories; male farmers, male landowners and how it is recognised as being a masculine role. This is where Drawn to the Land comes in, to show people how there are more female farmers and workers managing the land. It’s really refreshing to see women taking on roles that would be typically expected from men, to show that they are capable as well and Sophie felt that there women farmers from Scotland weren’t given any representation. The women who are represented within this project all share a deep bond with the landscape they work on and they also speak of nurturing the land which is quite admirable, to see someone who has such a passion for their homeland and can think of nothing else which could replace that passion. The women who are photographed portray a character of determination and enthusiasm towards their work, they are the custodians of the land who endure tough and brutal conditions but there is the constant nurturing of the land. Patricia is a farmer who runs a livestock farm and one of the photographs of the sheep in the snowy landscape displays one of the coldest springs in which Patricia had to work in.

There is also the character of Sybil who acts as a key character within this project as her family hold deep roots within the land on which she works on – the landscape has been in her family for 175 years which is quite amazing, to be working on the land which her great-great grandfather had worked on and I thought that it was fascinating to learn of Sybil’s story, how she resembles a strong and determined worker on her land. Sybil similarly expressed her deep relationship with her land, being an extremely powerful and emotional bond which is irreplaceable. In order to have a better understanding of the lives these women lead.

Sophie explained that she wanted to become involved with the subjects in the project in order to tell the story from the eyes of the individuals instead of telling their story from an outside perspective. This explains how the photographs taken of the inside of the women’s houses help to illustrate their personality and to display their personal life, for the viewer to understand what type of person they are and to see a side of them which would be hidden.

 

Colin McPherson A Fine Line

The talk then progressed to the project A Fine Line lead by Colin McPherson as he began to explain how his project reflects the referendum of Scotland. This project places focus on the border between England and Scotland, looking at the physical aspect of the border but also on the metaphorical meanings surrounding the border. The way in which the photographs of the border were displayed reflected how the photos had been shot – the photos starting left to right resembles how Colin started at the west end, around Gretna of the border and proceeded to the east and I thought this was a clever way in representing his journey on the border, to see where it began and where it ended.

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Colin explained that he wanted to do something based on the border which would reflect the upcoming referendum and to display how the political situation in Scotland should make people think about their country, their identity, their community and how significant these aspects are. Colin indicated how for a photographer, it is quite a challenge to capture these features but it seems clear from his variety of photographs of the border that he successfully captured these qualities. He described the process of his project as being an eternal monologue, meditating on the vast meanings surrounding the border and exploring the different sections of the border. Three elements were incorporated within the project: portraiture, landscape and documentary and these elements helped to highlight the different aspects of the border, in displaying the landscape surrounding the border and capturing the lives of the people living around the border.

 

Berwickshire coastal path, 2014 © Colin McPherson

Berwickshire coastal path, 2014 © Colin McPherson

Colin indicated that he wanted his project to be a visual exploration but he didn’t want too much to be happening in the photos he shot and I feel that the simplicity of the photographs in not having too many things happening allows the viewer to perceive what the border looks like from Scotland. What I also thought was interesting to learn was that this project also represents what Colin had discovered on his journey across the border, being viewed as found photography according to Colin. This made me think of how even though these photographers are from Scotland and have strong connections with the country, they are still able to discover something new and amazing about their home and are able to capture that through the use of photography. When looking at the physical form of the border – one of the photographs depicting the border fence on Cheviot Hills for instance, there was the question of whether or not you could tell which side is England and which is Scotland.

Scotland - Cheviot Hills - A Fine Line

Border fence, Cheviot hills, 2014 © Colin McPherson

Obviously if you are not the photographer you wouldn’t know which side is which as they both look the same, yet each side have subtle signs in indicating the difference in country. This is evident when Colin provides an explanation towards the photograph of one of the members of the Gretna bowling team – how the bowling team in Gretna do not play games against the teams from England as they both have different rules in how you play the game. In photographing the people, Colin had the opportunity in talking to the people about their community and where they live and also in learning of different opinions as to what their community means and what the border resembles to them.

The metaphor of marriage and unity had been explored through the photograph of the married couple, in displaying ideas of union and separation through the border. Even though the border is a physical divider between England and Scotland, Colin has shown the public through ‘A Fine Line’ how there are also shared spaces near the border for both Scottish and English individuals to enjoy – reinforcing the idea of union, which is evident in the photograph of the river near the border. Similarly with Sophie and Jeremy, Colin explained how this project allowed him to reconnect with his home, the sheer indulgence of exploring Scotland after living in England for 12 years.

 

Stephen McLaren American Always, Scottish Forever

As Stephen was unable to attend the talk in discussing his project American Always, Scottish Forever, Anne McNeill provided some useful and interesting information towards what the project represents. She explains how this project was made in order for Stephen to get over his homesickness, bringing Scotland over to California. Everyone in the photographs are wearing different coloured kilts which would indicate the different clans within Scotland, but interestingly enough, Stephen has explained that the choice of kilts was more for the different styles and appealing colours rather than indicating which clan they belonged to. What was also interesting to learn was how during the process of this project, Stephen was the most Scottish person there in attending the festival, yet the American individuals knew more about the cultures and customs of the Scottish festival, it was as if he were an outsider to the Scottish customs of this event.

All three of the photographers then discussed how they had enjoyed working together as a group in Beyond the Border. Even though they all worked independently with their research and in travelling to the country, they explained how they were able to learn new things from each other when bringing ideas to the group, it always remained to be productive and stimulating in learning new points about their country. I feel that the impact of this exhibition came from the fact that they have all spent a large amount of time away from Scotland. These projects explore their reconnection with their homeland and also portray their amazing journey through Scotland, feeling as if you are experiencing their journey. By the end of the discussion I was amazed with what I had learnt about Scotland during the talk, with there being many secrets of the past hidden in certain areas but also how the people and the landscape captured within the project possess a sense of individuality and portray their uniqueness onto everyone else.


Listen again to the Artist Talk with Document Scotland here

Review by Asiya Hussain about ‘Feed Your Mind’ at Impressions Gallery

It can be said that Beyond the Border captures the essence of Scotland and displaying the use of Scottish documentary photography in all its glory. Viewing the works of the four Scottish photographers: Sophie Gerrard, Stephen McLaren, Colin McPherson and Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, is quite captivating as they provide a different perspective towards Scotland, they share their image of what the country means to them as an individual. The exhibition features a variation of photographs from each photographer, each one being unique and meaningful in representing Scotland. From a personal viewpoint, I feel that these photographs provide a distinctive outlook towards life in Scotland, capturing people at their most natural state and also being able to capture the beauty of the countryside. The use of documentary photography in the exhibition also helps to highlight the image and message of Scotland being independent, not being assimilated within United Kingdom and in retaining their own identity.

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Photographs by Anca Tutuianu New Focus Photographer

In further understanding the roots and significance of Scottish documentary photography, I had the opportunity to attend the Impressions Gallery’s event of Feed Your Mind which took place on 17th July. The event was lead by Brian Liddy, the Associate Curator from the National Media Museum who discussed the history of Scottish documentary photography and also in shared some images of Scottish photography from the National Media Museum collection. It was a great privilege to be able to attend an event such as this one as it was a first time for me and I have to say, my mind was definitely fed and full by the end of the discussion. Before attending this event, I had very little knowledge of how deeply rooted photography is within Scotland, but I soon learnt how it was due to Scottish photographers experimenting with this form of media that they developed the form of documentary photography and how photography remains to be highly significant within Scotland.

Brian Liddy began the discussion by speaking of how photography is taken for granted now in the 21st century and yet it is a powerful tool in capturing such wondrous moments. He explained how he felt that the rarity of a photograph itself has been taken away, the process of taking a photo has been made simple and accessible to all. Anyone nowadays can just take out their phone and take a photo of the landscape or of a flower for example, there is no complicated procedure of controlling the light with the chemicals and attempting to make them stable in order for the image to last. But what really got me thinking was when Brian made the point of how photography is embedded in everyday life and with everyone, whether we know it or not. He made examples of having photo albums, magazines images etc how society revolves around photography to some extent.

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The discussion then proceeded to Brian discussing the history of Scottish documentary photography and the works of influential Scottish photographers, going into depth about each photographer and how their work transformed documentary photography for Scotland. Documentary photography itself was becoming known as the dawn of photojournalism as it was focused purely on photographing the life of people. The photographer John Thomson, for example, was best known for being one of the first Scottish documentary photographers as he took photos of people on the streets in Scotland and also the first to travel to China in capturing their way of life. He mainly used documentary photography in the way of a photojournalist, to display the lives of people outside of Scotland. Along with the discussion, Brian showed us some photos taken from the collection of the National Media Museum and most of the photos consisted of Scottish civilians, life on the streets of Scotland. What was interesting in seeing these photos was how one of the members from the audience noticed how a fisherman in a photograph with two other fishermen was wearing a tophat, which was quite unexpected. Brian explained how this showed a sense of individuality amongst the Scottish civilians and how that originality can be seen in the exhibition and also in the individuals living in Scotland today.

At the end of the discussion, I felt that I had gain a better understanding of Scottish documentary and also an invaluable insight towards the history of Scottish photography. I definitely wanted to find out more information about the photographers mentioned, such as Thomas Annan and John Thomson and I feel that is what this event is all about. It is meant to be mind provoking, to feed your mind and make you curious about different forms of photography.

 

Review by Shaila Hamid ‘Feed Your Mind’ at Impressions Gallery George Chakravarthi, ‘Thirteen’

On the 1st May 2014 I had the opportunity to be part of Impressions Gallery’s Feed Your Mind, which was an informal discussion on George Chakravarthi’s exhibition “Thirteen”. The discussion was led by Richard MacSween, lecturer in Shakespeare at the University of Bradford, and Impressions Gallery’s Learning Manager Sophie Powell. The exhibition itself features thirteen characters from Shakespeare’s plays that commit suicide in a variety of situations. Chakravarthi’s interpretations of these characters are mounted in light boxes in a dark gallery to create the atmosphere of a literary graveyard. Not only is suicide a connecting theme between each of these characters but the images themselves are of George Chakravarthi who transcends gender boundaries by becoming the character in each image. To quote from a participant of the discussion, the images feature “the same person treated in various ways as George works with himself as a character”.

Having heard George Chakravarthi speak of his exhibition earlier this year, it was insightful to gain an alternate perspective to the artworks. To begin with, an interesting point raised by Richard is whether Shakespeare himself used the word suicide – when did it come into language? Another member stated that the word came into use in 1643, which is of significance because attitudes towards suicide have changed over time. Hence, it was good to discuss George’s interpretation of suicide in a post 9-11 context and the way suicide is portrayed in Shakespeare’s plays. In the talk, however, it was noted how the images act as a resurrection of the characters who committed suicide.

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The discussion then began to focus on individual images and what made them look like characters from Shakespeare. To develop this the clothing, textures and photographic layering were discussed in-depth to add to our understanding of George’s interpretations of the characters. In particular, Richard’s knowledge of the plays enabled us to understand how the characters in the light-boxes differentiate to those in Shakespeare’s plays. In particular the group was divided on the images of Romeo and Juliet. Although they are each placed in separate light boxes, George’s androgynous appearance, through clothing, body posture and facial expressions, in each of these images unify the two characters.

Romeo and Juliet © George Chakravarthi

Romeo and Juliet © George Chakravarthi

Romeo and Juliet are not the only two characters who have committed suicide in the same play, as there is also Mark Anthony and Cleopatra. Again the two characters are presented in different light boxes but there are subtle similarities between the images, which connect the two characters. The visual connection is the peacock feather, aptly pointed out by Richard himself. Yet, it was said that these visual connections are deliberately subtle to allow you to see how these characters stand on their own. Once more this adds to George’s interpretations of the plays and enables audience to engage with the image and develop their own interpretation of characters.

All in all this was an insightful and educational talk that taught me new things about the exhibition. To participate in a discussion with people from a variety of backgrounds and ages helped develop my knowledge on notable characters from Shakespeare’s plays and I am now intrigued to see what else George Chakravarthi has to offer as an artist.

Time For Tea Valentine’s Day : Review by Ellie Jackson

The clatter of cutlery settled, as Sophie Powell Impressions Learning Manager began her welcome and interesting speech, about the Bradfordian born and bred photographer, Paul Reas; of which his exhibition “Day Dreaming About The Good Times ?”was on show at Impressions Gallery. It was nice to see that on this particular Valentine’s Day, individuals were brought together in what felt like a community and family spirit. New friends were made, and the chitter chatter of catch ups and new experiences, put a smile to your face amongst the wonderful cake, both homemade and bought, which brought in streams of people. P1240556 Even the New Focus members, four amazingly helpful girls Aneesa, Naayab, Marya and Samera, had the same spirit, each smartly dressed, one in particular sporting the Valentine’s Day theme with a very nice love heart patterned dress. Whether she had done this purposely I did not ask. Having a laugh in the kitchen whilst thirsty, newcomers and old were awaiting some newly washed cutlery, in order to down their third or fourth cup of tea; it was pointed out, ‘I think I do more washing up here, then I do at home’. At this comment I felt a sense of worth and pride, as I thought, ‘I’m actually doing something quite useful today.’ Even the struggles with the tea machine did not dampened the day, and created both amusement and laughs for the makers of the tea and the takers of the tea. There was one moment throughout the whole experience which by far stood out for me; and that was as a certain elderly lady, back for her second cup of tea, expressing her love of her former life. In which, she was born in India, explaining that trying to understand the art of putting on a Sari was a difficult task and claimed that if you put it on wrong it ‘made you look fat’. P1240628 After this she travelled to Aagra, the home of the Taj Mahal, then went to Punjab where she trained to be a doctor for more than five years, and worked in the same hospital that her mother had worked in, as she was the one that had inspired her to follow in her footsteps. Proceeding to arrive in Britain in 1959. At this point, as the stories continually flowed and my interest heightening, I ran to fetch a pen and a note pad, as there was not a chance I was going to miss, even the smallest details of today. Listening to this made me feel a sense of pride for who I am, but not just that. I was learning. Valentine’s Day themed songs were then sung to us by the beautiful sounding choir, ‘Champions Show The Way’. They were sung with such honesty that I began to well up inside at the words, ‘when I fall in love it be forever’. After this the raffle began, tickets pulled from a Victorian era styled hat. The prize; Champagne. And that was it for the day, groups newly formed tickled out, leaving their tea, cake and fond memories behind them P1240639 Wind back two hours, and everything was only just starting, cutlery clashing, cakes laid neatly across the table. New Focus members secretly wishing, ‘which of these cakes can I sneak today, without anyone noticing?’ Wondering what the day was going to bring us. I can honestly say that this particular Valentines, was by far one of my favourites, and it didn’t have to involve a boy. P1240594

Time for Tea Review by Shaila Hamid

An exciting event, which occurs once every exhibition, is Impressions Gallery Time for Tea. This is a free event welcoming all to enjoy tea and homemade cakes. The event takes place in our Studio space overlooking City Park. This Time for Tea, on Friday 14th June, was hosted for Rena Effendi’s Liquid Land Legacies of Oil and Power exhibition and was a success with over eighty people attending, a ukulele band and student volunteers from Appleton Academy and Impression’s New Focus Group.

Those attending the event were mainly over 55s but there were numerous student volunteers thus making this an intergenerational event. Greeting those attending the event were students from Appleton Academy and the New Focus Group. The students served tea in delicate china cups and delicious cakes and savoury snacks. All of which were made by the students and donated for free.

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After this students were given the opportunity to socialise with those attending Time for Tea and a key talking point was the opportunities provided for students through the gallery. Some students were even given career advice by those who attended based on their personal experiences. There was also a petition circulating to save the National Media Museum. Here there was a unified passion for Bradford and it’s assets such as the National Media Museum. There was a clear outrage on the museum’s closure so they were more than willing to sign the petition.

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Shortly after the social event there was an optional talk, which was given by one of our Gallery Co-ordinators, and the attendees were provided with information about the exhibition and given the opportunity to ask questions.

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To end the morning a ukulele group, called Three Chord Max, who regularly volunteer, filled the Studio with music and sang their versions of classics such as Abba’s Mamma Mia. Those attended then thanked the gallery for hosting the social morning and were eager to find out when the next would take place.

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The next Time for Tea event will take place on Friday 2nd August 2013, 11:30-01:30pm so feel free to drop in as all are welcome.