New Focus Journey by Asiya Hussain

When you’re in university, college or trying to find work after you’re done with your GCSEs, you’re usually told that you need some work experience to impress the employers or else you’ll never find any work. Seems a bit harsh but I suppose that’s the hard truth in the working world. When it comes to looking for somewhere to do work experience or voluntary work, that’s where it gets a little tricky as you need to know which organisations accept volunteers.

Now here’s where New Focus comes in. Looking back to when I first joined New Focus, I have to admit that as an individual, I have changed dramatically from the skills I’ve learnt and the people I’ve met. Rather than being labelled as the volunteer group within the Impressions Gallery, I feel that New Focus has become its own little entity as the volunteers as able to contribute so much towards the exhibitions and events being held.

There are numerous roles within New Focus that volunteers can apply for as they vary from Events Assistant to Photographer. Even then, it feels like within New Focus your role becomes flexible as you begin to help out with different areas in the gallery – well that’s been my experience of it so far and it’s all been beneficial. From my experience of being a New Focus member, I have gained a number of valuable skills that have become quite handy when working on different projects. For example, projects that involve you working face-to-face with the public requires a certain skill set in treating them fairly and equally and making sure that their needs are met.
New Focus have been involved with a lot of amazing projects that have been connected with past exhibitions and from a personal point of view, each project has been different and brilliant as they all bring in something new (and quirky at times).

IMG_0798

Looking back at some of the projects I have been involved with throughout my New Focus journey, I can definitely say that I was happy to be involved with such creative projects and to have the opportunity in meeting people who are also just as enthusiastic as you are. As blogger for New Focus, the first project that I worked on was the blog posts for the events Artist Talk and Feed Your Mind for the exhibition Beyond the Border by Document Scotland. These were fun to work on considering that this was my first time writing anything for the gallery. But it was also my first time in attending these events so I wanted to make sure I did a really good job with the posts.
It’s fun to write blog posts on the different exhibitions, but it’s also great to have them displayed in a different form – I was able to get my article on the exhibition Realism in Rawiya published in the Bradford Review through the help of Impressions Gallery. May not seem like an impressive achievement for some people, but I took it as being a massive accomplishment for myself.

Along with writing blog posts, New Focus allows you to become fully emerged within the new projects and I feel that the Bradford Video Portraits is a perfect example of this. This project was like a smaller version of The Caravan Gallery’s exhibition, extra{ordinary} Photographs of Britain as it explored the different and wonderful elements of Bradford. I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this as we were able to travel around Bradford and hear what the lovely Bradfordians had to say about their town. There were so many hidden gems that were revealed through this project and from a Bradfordian perspective, it was amazing to learn about the new and quirky facts about Bradford. I enjoyed how New Focus took control in deciding on the locations to go to, the dates for the filming and the final editing.

You can take a look at the full video here

New Focus has opened up some amazing opportunities, one of them being the paid post of the graduate internship in partnership with Bradford University. This position has allowed me to build on the skills I’ve learnt in New Focus and to develop them further. It has also allowed me to become more involved with the installation and preparation of future exhibitions, for example, building up the Artist Folder and helping Impressions’ colleagues with collecting valuable artwork for exhibitions. The role of Gallery Assistant has also given me a better and clearer understanding of the aim behind the gallery and how we reach out and work with the public.

There’s also the fun of being able to go to events related to the gallery. The event of ARTIST ROOMS engage Yorkshire Area Group Event: Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy was based on voluntary groups working within museums and galleries in Yorkshire. This was staged in the beautiful and historic building of the Hospitium which is set within the beautiful Museum gardens. I have to admit that at first, it did seem a bit daunting. I was a bit nervous about doing a presentation in front of the many galleries and museums within Yorkshire. Organisations such as Cartwright Hall, Leeds Gallery, York Art Gallery and Yorkshire Sculpture park were present and waiting to hear us speak. (Not scary at all.) One gallery did their presentation before us and halfway through it I was just thinking,”Whoa! This is really impressive. What am I supposed to say?!”

But once we got up in front of everyone and began our presentation, it actually went really well as the majority of the people present were really impressed with the projects we had done. Afterwards, we received a lot of praise for our presentation and it was amazing to see members from different organisations approach us and to say that they were inspired in some way to take a different approach towards their youth groups in galleries and museums.

So far, being with New Focus has brought in a lot of fun adventures. Can’t wait to see what else it will bring in!

 

 

 

 

 

Bradford Video Portraits

As part of The Caravan Gallery’s Bradford Pride of Place Project we created a short film capturing honest accounts of what it means to live in Bradford today.


Thanks to the 46 generous supporters of our Kickstarter campaign we travelled around the city, meeting many people who make Bradford unique. Participants include our Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, councillors and cultural leaders, market stall holders, bus drivers, comedians, curry connoisseurs and football fanatics. Those who took part range from age 8 to 80 and each has a personal story to tell

The Bradford Pride of Place Project by The Caravan Gallery

External

The Bradford Pride of Place  project was based in the vibrant and urban city of Bradford, exploring it’s past and present while discovering hidden gems in the city. The project was run by the two wonderful photographers, Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale, who together, form The Caravan Gallery. They are a non-profit organisation and their main aim is to capture the unusual and extra- ordinary side to the different cities in Britain. They travel around the UK with their yellow caravan (hence The Caravan Gallery), capturing the bizarre yet funny elements within the towns they visit and to show how everyday life can be filled with fun little surprises. Their pit-stop from 11 June to 11 July was the city of Bradford where they ran the Bradford Pride of Place Project at Fuse Art Space. They also have a major exhibition ‘extra {ordinary} Photographs of Britain’ at Impressions Gallery, free for all to see the towns they have been to so far and to take a gander at some striking photos. You’ll definitely find some genuine photos that truly display the extraordinary element of everyday life and some that will just make you laugh out loud. The exhibition continues until the 29 August.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Going back to The Bradford Pride of Place Project, this  was open for everyone to come and to take a look inside and see the secrets of Bradford that you’ve never known before. Whether you’re a Bradfordian or a complete newbie to the city, one thing’s for sure, everyone learnt something new when they had taken a look at what this project had to offer.

Along with the main exhibition down at  Impressions Gallery, Jan and Chris were constantly taking photos of the urban city and exploring the hidden wonders that our city has to offer. And they where always looking for new spots in Bradford to explore. You could say that this project was based on what the people of Bradford have to say about their city, it relied on the contributions of local people, we called it an evolving exhibition all about Bradford. There were also a variety of activities to participate in within the project, giving everybody the chance to become part of a HUGE photography project.

One way that people became involved was through the photography competition, to showcase their best angle of Bradford. It was amazing to see the photos taken, seeing all the different possible angles of Bradford. Personally, my favourite photo will always be the toy pram stuck in the tree by Karol Wyszynski, how did it get stuck up there?

Karol Wyszynski, Dirkhill Rd - All Saints Rd

Dirkhill Road © Karol Wyszynski

Even though the competition ended on the opening night, there was still the opportunity for the avid photographers of Bradford to bring in their photos and to proudly put them on The People’s Wall. The main aim of The People’s Wall was to cover it with different items that were related to Bradford. So it didn’t have to be a photo, it could be a painting, a sketch, an old leaflet, the possibilities where endless! It was amazing to see the numerous items that people brought in, there were some photos that dated back to the 1930s. Another amazing piece was brought in from our own volunteer, Jason Feather, these were his childhood journals recording the paranormal activities in Bradford along with his wildlife journal it was truly amazing to see what little journeys Jason had been on as a child.

Something else that the people could contribute to was The People’s Map of Bradford. There was this huge map of Bradford on the wall and people had the chance to note down the secret locations of Bradford that might not be that well-known to the public.  I have to say that on the map, there where quite a few ghost sightings in Bradford. SPOOKY! You could say that the project was almost like a very eccentric Information Centre of Bradford, only this time round, the people are supplying The Caravan Gallery with the valuable information.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There was also the chance to create an amazing postcard of Bradford, a unique collage of Bradford, or even a poster. I can proudly say that I made a postcard of the lovely Cottingley Fairies, looks almost professional.cottingley fairies

With the flood of people coming in throughout the month, there were a lot of interesting stories told about Bradford I found most of them were really enlightening. It seems that I was always learning something new about my home town through the stories that where brought in. For instance, I learnt that there used to be Bradford Dungeons near  Market Cross, that’s definitely something you don’t find in your tourist pack. One other story that is apparently well-known in Bradford is the tombstone of the mother with her baby in Undercliffe cemetery, the story being about; ‘Anne Wagstaff Barlow (1834-1867) and her daughter Sarah Elizabeth who survived just a few weeks after her birth in 1859.’ The tombstone itself is said to be quite breathtaking as it beholds the mother laying down with her baby at her side, something I definitely need to see soon!

The Bradford Pride of Place Project has been absolutely spectacular giving people the chance to share stories about their home town. I can say that it has definitely had a positive impact on Bradford and the people. I cant wait to see what The Caravan Gallery get up to at there next location as they open a new Pride of Place Project in Cardiff in October 2015.