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


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.

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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.

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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.

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.

Listen again here

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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.

Ellie Jackson talks about her first experience on New Focus, meeting photographer Paul Reas about his first major retrospective “Day Dreaming About The Good Times?”

This was my first experience of working with New Focus on the internal aspects of putting up and working on an art exhibition, specifically the photography exhibition of Paul Reas. I was in charge of taking the photographs, as filming of Paul for the exhibition was going on. The other New Focus members were really friendly and fun to get along with, putting up with the knowledge that I was constantly taking photographs of the filming and the New Focus members. A few unwanted but hilarious shots were taken, only to be deleted a second later. As I stood in corners trying to inconspicuously take as many shots as possible, Paul talked about how in his work The Valleys Project (1985) he would stand in public places, such as post offices (as shown on the image below) with his camera, obvious to the passers by that he was taking photographs. Paul would come back to the same place every day for weeks until he could get a photograph with the best human facial expressions, to portray that specific time in Britain, including the decline in coal and steel industries in Wales and the ‘New Workforce’ industries, which were fiercely lead by women.

From 'The Valley's Project', 1985 © Paul Reas / courtesy Impressions Gallery.

From ‘The Valley’s Project’, 1985 © Paul Reas / courtesy Impressions Gallery.

Something that amazed me about Paul was his attention to detail within and out of his photographs. Nearly every photograph within his collection I Can Help (1988) had a story behind them, and each story was highlighted within the photographs, for example this photograph of a man buying his son wallpaper with soldiers printed on it is another example of an image were Paul went back to the same place every week waiting to capture an image with such sociological connotations. Paul wondered whether the son would be impacted by the effect of the wallpaper. This became true, as Reas later found out that the son at the age of twenty seven had indeed joined the armed forces.

From 'I Can Help', 1988 © Paul Reas / courtesy Impressions Gallery.

From ‘I Can Help’, 1988
© Paul Reas / courtesy Impressions Gallery.

Other details that surprised me as we walked up to the library in which Reas had borrowed (or unintentionally kept,) a book named Family of Man and which had first inspired his photography, was the fact that as we walked past the buildings of Bradford, Reas quickly noticed a memorial pasted on the wall of a building, dedicated to a homeless figure that had lived on the streets of Bradford; something that in everyday life would go unnoticed and ignored by the rest of society. It struck me then that Reas, was and had been unintentionally interested in how Britain and how the people living there were effected by society.

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

Installation of James Barnor Ever Young by Nancy Haslam-Chance

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to help out with the most recent exhibition changeover at Impressions Gallery. Growing up in Bradford I have always loved Impressions Gallery, so it was great to spend some time here, see what goes on behind the scenes and see how much work goes into installing a show. The first thing we had to do was take down the exhibition Liquid Land Legacies of Oil and Power by Rena Effendi. We wrapped each picture in tissue paper, bubble wrap, then brown paper and put cardboard round the corners. This job felt quite important and had to be done carefully to ensure that the photographs were well protected and would arrive safely and in one piece at the next gallery they were going to be exhibited in. Wrapping the pictures up took nearly all day but it was nice to be able to get to know the other volunteers and see Effendi’s photos before they left Bradford.


I came back to help 3 days later and a lot had changed! The walls were bare and the new James Barnor exhibition was laid out ready to be hung. I got to help Dominic, the technician who installs Impressions gallery’s exhibitions. It was great to see how he works, and the technique he uses to hang the photos so professionally with no nails or screws showing. He spent a lot of time measuring the distance between each photo, making sure each photo was straight. It was a very meticulous process and each piece had to look perfect- and they did! I liked how each piece looked like it was floating along the curved wall of the exhibition space.

I also helped with painting walls white ready for vinyl lettering, and cleaning the dust off the glass of each frame so everything was shiny and crisp and ready for the opening. I really enjoyed helping out and thought the exhibition layout and Barnor’s colourful and glamorous photos looked fantastic in the space. I learnt things I will be able to put in to use again next year when I hang my degree show at uni and it enabled me to think about jobs and career paths I would like to go into once I’ve graduated.