Not a Period Drama: A Personal England.
England has an identity crisis. The most powerful nation in Great Britain doesn’t seem to know itself as Scotland and Wales assert their independence and national pride. After the devolution of power and the recent vote to leave the EU, England is left struggling to know itself at home, in Europe and globally.
This may be a decaying and crumbling country ill at ease with itself but it has a love of the countryside, an obsession with the outdoors and a deep and lasting relationship with theatre and music, all with a surreal sense of humour and a love of the ridiculous. These photographs are my representation of what England is to me and the people I surround myself with, using social memory, romanticism and character rather than nostalgic history, nationalism and period drama.
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This project was entered into the Lens Culture Emerging Talents 2016 competition. This is the feedback I received.
Hello Chris! Thanks for sharing your project with us and it was my pleasure to review your work and offer you my feedback.
When I am reviewing a project I always looking for the two ingredients that transport the image from its ordinary statues to something unique. Those ingredients, together with the blending of other elements are the departure of mere representation by means of aesthetic and conceptual choices and the emotional/psychological component. Does the image disseminate a particular emotion to the viewer as a result of the photographer's intuitive connection with the subject? And are there any evidence of this connection. This of course depends on subject-matter content and the like, but one of the two ingredients are imperative for the success of the photographic message. If those two are absent, the image will not transcend and the viewer will not connect with the photographs, therefore the project.
I enjoyed looking at your images. I have rearranged the order of the images starting with the strongest photographs at the beginning. The images that I am drawn to the most are the first seven; they incorporate all the ingredients mentioned in the first paragraph and that is very important factor when looking at photographs. Those specific images and especially the first work well well with your statement but also in terms of the composition. The last images are good pictures but are in a way more straight forward. Above all, and this is something that needs attention, considering the fact that you are a beginner is that besides the stronger composition, attention to detail and narrative qualities that go beyond the frame and let the viewer imagine is your developing visual language and aesthetic sensibility. Your connection with the subject-matter is more evident in the work showcasing the ability to deviate from mere representation by the use of the frame and what you decide to incorporate. Your intuitive connection and response is one that evokes emotions and let us connect with the story and particular situation while at the same time lets us imagine in a way that does not feel forced. Therefore the particular images are more open-ended and universal. Most importantly, when looking at the work I can a sense of the undercurrent meaning of the story but at the same time I am seeing your personality and response to the situation from a unique perspective. Images 2, 3, and 4 move towards a direction that at times becomes surreal and fluctuates between fiction and reality in moments that have a cinematic feel.
I am intrigued by those images and the fact that you are just starting out and I would like to encourage you to continue working with the passion and dedication that you showcase in those images. One suggestion would be to make some images that show interior spaces and maintain the same aesthetic and formal qualities of the first photographs. This will broaden the scope of the project and make it more coherent; the experience will be more dramatic and at the same time engaging. Some more intimate portraits will also be a good addition. I am wishing you the best and I look forward in seeing more of your work in future competitions.
York Races: Sun and Rain, Stag and Hen
The two biggest complaints I hear from York residents about the city are the problems caused by the number of stag and hen parties that come drinking for the night and the York horse racing meetings.
As a new resident, venturing into the city centre can be intimidating at the weekend, with large groups of alcohol-fuelled, pre-wedding parties dressed as anything from prom queens to chimney sweeps who have travelled from all over the north of England. It is loud, lewd and can turn violent on occasions (although most arrests are for nuisance behaviour) and for a city as small as York this inevitably causes problems for the residents. However, the race meetings are vital to the economy of the ancient city. Keeping the balance between economic necessities, resident’s safety and maintaining a reputation as one of England’s most historic cities is a challenge.
York Press comments page:
DooftheDog 20th June 2015 8:58 am
'I usually go into town on a Saturday morning when it's reasonably quiet. We arrived about 1pm a couple of weekends ago for the food festival and were astounded by the number of hen & stag parties around. One large group was walking over Lendal bridge and throwing around a blow up doll.'
York Press comments page.
laguna71 20th June 2015 1:04 pm
'York, the safest city in the world, thats what we were told. Stop blaming racegoers, hen parties and stag nights. In and around York there are scum. Every day there are reports of muggings, assaults, violent behaviour, assaults on tourists and the other day a girl was mugged for her shoes. York is no different from anywhere else.'
There are 17 race meetings at the racecourse over the summer, which has a capacity of 60,000 people, and attracts around 350,000 each year. Around 1 in 20 will stay overnight. The population of York is around 198,000. In 2009 a study showed the races generated around £58 million and supported around 1350 full-time jobs. It is the third largest racecourse in Britain. There are 17 eateries including 6 restaurants and 22 bars on-site.
The races are an attractive and vibrant starting point for the stag and hen parties before continuing into the city centre early evening. Most of the images were taken in the cheaper Grandstand where the atmosphere was dynamic and festive compared the the more decorous and mannerly County Stand.
A Sheffield Goodbye
The first photograph is of my Dad holding a painting he painted in 1960 when he was 30. It is the main influence for the photographs below with small figures, a pale sky, a Meditteranean street scene with nothing much happening. An exotic snapshot of the everyday which hung in our home all through my childhood.
My brother Alan had just been born and my Dad was at a loose end at night, as he described it, so he joined a painting class at Eastfield school in Hull, which is where I attended primary and junior school and has recently closed.
The painting is a copy of a picture from a magazine of no significance but there will be someone, somewhere who recognises it. I thought it was brilliant and my nostalgia tells me it still is. I will be moving out of Sheffield soon so the project is my nostalgic look at the everyday in Sheffield as it is a place that I love and will return to as often as I can.