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.

‘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.

New Focus interview David Chancellor and Prof Daniel Brockington about the exhibition ‘Hunters’

New Focus members Adelaida Afilipoaie, Madalina Oros, William Sellers and Aghazadeh Nilufar had the opportunity to interview David Chancellor to find out more about  his exhibition Hunters, which explores the complex relationship between humans and animals, documenting the game hunting industry in Sub-Saharan Africa. New Focus also attended Feed Your Mind at Impressions Gallery and managed to interview  the speaker Prof. Daniel Brockington, Professor of Conservation and Development at University of Manchester about the complicated issues raised by Hunters

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Hunters is on at Impressions Gallery until the 6 December click here for more information

Adelaida Afilipoaie meets George Chakravarthi

New Focus member Adelaida meet George Chakravarthi to find out more about his exhibition Thirteen  at Impressions Gallery from 20 March – 21 June 2014. The interview was made especially for Ramair Bradford University Student Radio.

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Thirteen by George Chakravarthi at Impressions Gallery  photographs by Alina Salihbekova and Austeja Krukonyte New Focus  photographers.

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New Focus would like to thank Ramair  for all their support.

New Focus meet Paul Reas

New Focus had the opportunity to creatively direct a video to coincide with Paul Reas first major retrospective “Day Dreaming About The Good Times ?” .  Anne McNeill Impressions Director and Curator of the exhibition introduced the team to the exhibition with a presentation taking us through 30 years of Paul’s work starting with his early work in Bradford through to his most recent work  From a Distance.  New Focus then developed a project plan thinking of  questions to ask Paul and effective  ways to film the interview.

With thanks to Ryan Baxter and Billy Sellers for film and sound and Christie O’Keefe for editing this film.

Impressions Gallery Bradford – making an impression review by Shaila Hamid

Are you a culture vulture? If so you need to visit Impressions Gallery located just down the road in City Park (behind the big screen!). From legendary photographers to upcoming artists Impressions Gallery know how to get people talking both within the gallery and once you leave the glass doors. Having recently hosted the renowned James Barnor’s photographic archive, the gallery is now exhibiting Melanie Friend’s “The Home Front”, from September 14th until November 23rd 2013, which is a significant collection of new work exploring links between militarism, marketing and entertainment.

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Impressions Gallery came to the heart of Bradford city centre in 2007 but was previously based in York for 35 years. The gallery is a non-profit space with the sole aim of displaying photography to get you “looking, thinking and talking” and with over 55,000 visitors a year the gallery know how to make an impression! With a long-standing reputation the gallery have hosted many famous names from the photographic world. Some of these names include award winning Magnum photographer Carl de Keyzer, multi-award winner Anna Fox and Bradford born photographer Liza Dracup

The current exhibition features Melanie Friend’s project “The Home Front” which effortlessly displays the way war is normalised in society. To do this Friend has captured three different series of images which are interlinked by showing the civilian experience of war. In particular, the exhibition focuses on public air shows to show how war is integrated into culture and family entertainment.  The images also centre on private arms fairs thus providing a rare opportunity to view how military equipment is marketed and sold.

Pakistan Ordnance Factory Stand, DSEi fair, London, 15 September 2011

Pakistan Ordnance Factory Stand, DSEi fair, London, 15 September 2011© Melanie Friend / courtesy Impressions Gallery

There is a range of free material in the gallery which allows you to read up on the exhibition and Melanie Friend. This is useful when revealing the underlying message behind the photography. To add to this, with each exhibition the gallery hosts a free talk from the artist themselves. This gives you a chance to hear the artist talk about their work and the inspiration behind the images. After the talk you get the chance to join in with a question and answer session if you have anything else you want to know about the artist or the exhibition.

For latest news on the gallery check out the website at: www.impressions-gallery.com  or follow on Facebook and Twitter @ImpGalleryPhoto

Entrance to the gallery is FREE so visit on your day off!

Melanie Friend The Home Front : Review by Ryan Baxter

Melanie Friend’s exhibition The Home Front shows her passion for photography and art, it shows something that is personal to her. Having spent time in air shows and international arms fairs, she ventures into the question of how we view war and if we consider it a brutal form of entertainment.

I had the opportunity to view Melanie’s work before meeting her. This gave me the chance to make my own views on the questions she wanted to ask through her photography. I was taken aback by the raw emotion of her work ranging from young children fearful of the crashing sounds of fighter jets to the middle aged men casually standing next to a ferocious tank.

I met Melanie about five minutes before the interview with the help of my fellow New Focus member Billy. We exchanged greetings and names before going straight for the interview. As Melanie had been travelling quite a distance to meet us, she admitted she was tired but showed great energy in talking about her projects and easily led the interview into her influences and how her previous projects led her to create The Home Front.

After we finished the interview, Billy and I immediately began editing the piece and once again got the see the photographs but with Melanie’s reasoning behind each photograph. This increased our understanding of the entire project. Billy and myself would like to thank Melanie and New Focus for giving us the opportunity to view a great piece of work and help us grow an appreciation for photography