A passion for for photography and digital communication with a background at the BBC and ITV.
Currently director at the School Media Club making cinema films for schools and working for Oblong Leeds a community development organisation. Also a member of All Saints Church in Ilkley and involved with communications in the parish.
This blog features posts about photography including some of my photos, while the media posts will include thoughts about filmmaking and online media - particularly to do with PR activities.
School Media Club
Category Archives: Art
What a great couple of days we’ve had. Yesterday we went to see some friends who have recently moved into a farmhouse on Addingham Moorside, an absolutely superb spot. From there we walked up to Windgate Nick and it really looked like we were in the Alps.
Today we went to the Hockney exhibition at Cartwright Hall in Bradford – highly recommended with some work I hadn’t seen before. There’s a great photo of a young DH appearing in a Methodist Church play as a robot. He has a box on his head so I trust it was him.
This is a shot of one of my favourite places, Salts Mill. I love the Victorian atmosphere which evokes something of the stern and solid convictions about community life imposed by Titus. The community of Saltaire once included a poet, James Waddington, who may well be an ancestor. Saltaire is an incredibly creative place oozing with artists and comfortable little cafes. On this occasion we were there for the Saltaire Arts Trail.
The photograph I like because it gives an impression of scale of the mill from the inside.
I do like Skipton's Art in the Pen. For a start, it's a great idea – holding an exhibition in a livestock auction mart. A space normally bustling with farmers and animals becomes space to eye up the work of local artists.
The variety of art is one of its great features. One of the great fears I have when visiting local art shows is having to look at yet more chocolate box pictures of bridges, gates and rose clad cottages. This is not the case at Art in the Pen. There were about sixty artists work on show, all quite individual.
Some of the work in wood was impressive, none more so than David Gross's huge and arresting wood sculptures (above).
A particular favorite was Mark Laycock's wood pieces. People have commented on his Gaudi like style, but what impressed me most was his passion for the wood itself and the ideas he has. He told me that he's be happy simply put a piece of wood on the wall and look at it. His deep respect for the material and his knowledge of why it looks as it does is wonderful.
Another eye catching display was by Duncan Pearson from Huddersfield. His colourful and humorous paintings had a dark twist to them. He explained that he'd spent a hard time in a rough area of Manchester. One picture featured a man with a ridiculous mustache – the manchester mustache – who he explained was a horrible character in a horrible pub. His work is raw and personal.
Tim Fowler from Leicester featured some very confident and beautiful urban scenes many of which were of West London. Evidence that there's a good range of influences at Art in the Pen, not confined to gates, bridges and cottages. You'd need to come to Ilkley for that!
At All Saints Church in Ilkley we are currently debating the future of our church development. The conversations are inevitably fueled by the cost and the awareness that the church is about people and not primarily buildings. So what we need is a clear connection between the building and something deeper.
I was inspired to remember (thanks to Jonny's links) that church buildings have been places where faith is expressed through art. But it seems that in many churches art has become fossilized – you can see the glass windows, the paintings and the hear the music, but it has somehow become trapped in the past, museum like. Hardly anyone is inspired or changed by walking into a church building these days.
The outside world is experiencing an explosion of creative expression. It's a multi-media, multi-coloured world where ideas and fragments of people's lives are shared and presented in wonderfully imaginative ways.
St Paul's Cathedral has commissioned two permanent plasma screen alterpieces by artist Bill Viola.
Leftbank Leeds has reworked a church building to become the focus for a community of artists.
In Brighton the church is engaging the whole community in The Brighton Passion
You might like to read this article in the guardian which notes that 1.8 million people visit the Tate Modern every year while church attendance declines.
Art can help people reconnect with great themes such as life, death and suffering. "The aim of art is to reveal, inspire and question. It is a tragedy that many do not know or cannot accept that belief shares these aims"
It's not just about providing a space to hang art, but a place for people to dig deeper into their soul and worship God in ways that they are being denied by the church.
So let's put art into the vision for our church development and particularly make the spaces flexible and open to the participation of creative people.
We completed the Hidden Keighley discovery day yesterday. Six schools trekking around the town in search of boxes which had been transformed by the children. My role has been to organise the film making element in collaboration with artist Amy Heild.
The process of making a film is a fantastic way for the children to learn so many skills and build their confidence, even a simple interview has so many elements to it. Deciding on the most relevant location to film the story, observing & planning the shots, managing the equipment, problem solving, engaging with the interviewee are only a few skills needed. It's particularly rewarding to pick shy children to work in front of the camera or take a leadership role and see them rise to the challenge.
The brilliant thing about video is that you can re-take if things go wrong. We've had some wonderful conversations about the value of being able to learn from mistakes. At first the children get embarrassed when they make a mistake but soon they're able to have a laugh about it and move on to an improved attempt.
Bringing professionalism to the way the video is filmed and edited can be a huge boost to many children. They imagine that professional film makers have none of the problems they face – being nervous, tripping over their lines, wobbly shots and so on. Once they realise that there are some simple techniques to achieving impressive results they begin to feel so much more confident.
We've had a lot of discussion about whether the process is more important than the outcome – i.e. that a poor quality film is OK provided that the children learn something in the process. I'm sure that the end product is vitally important – especially for a product designed for public showing. The buzz the children get from achieving a film that looks like something they would see on TV or at the cinema is something they can be proud of and will remember for a long time.
This is the model of Keighley Picture House. Inside is a screen on
which interviews about of the old cinema play. Next week all the films
will be shown at the real cinema at a red carpet event for 300 children.
This is from the film Box of Sounds in which we take this animated Victorian girl to re-visit one of the local mills.
The film has been produced by Duchy Parade Films based in Harrogate.
The National Media Museum in Bradford will be showing the animation on Saturday 27th February. And there'll be sets and models from The Astronomer’s Sun in the museum’s Animation Gallery from 23rd February.
The Astronomer’s Sun tells the story of a young man, accompanied by a mysterious mechanical bear, who visits an abandoned observatory to confront memories of his past and follow his father on a journey into the unknown. A magical journey about relationships and what it is to be human.
I have been enjoying the Tate Channel - an online collection of videos with artists of various shades. This is a rare and inspiring resource. I say rare because these videos have been prepared with the context in mind, on the whole they are not mini documentaries, news reports or commercials, but are made for the web audience. The videos are very simple interviews (usually minus the interviewer) which allow the artists to talk in a very natural and open way. Here is the deadpan world of John Wood and Paul Harrison, a pair of unusual video artists.
An interactive installation by John Green at the Keighley Arts Factory from Friday 11th September to Wednesday 30th September 2009. The artist gives us a tour of the piece and explains his motivation.
I liked John and after we shot this he told me how he had come to art late in life and a year out studying had been transforming for him – the best year of his life, he said. He’s clearly a man with a passion for what he does.
This was shot on my Canon 5D. You’ll notice John is holding a mini disc recorder – in fact this is recording his voice. Getting the tracks in sync was easy. In order to make sure he was in focus I did some calculations on my iphone hyperfocal distance calculator which came out at 1.2m.
In order to get a wide enough depth of field I had to set the camera to F8 but required a very high ISO setting. The picture noise was evident. Shutter speed was set to 50th (on a 60th I got a terrible flicker from the lights).
I love David Hockney's pictures. I warm to him perhaps because, like me, he was born in Bradford and I often pop in to Salts Mill to see his work.
I met his friend the late Jonathan Silver once and there are people like them who have a wonderful independence and way of looking at the world; they're able to look at something ordinary and make something of it.
Imagine on BBC ONE last week featured a film about Hockney made by Bruno Wollheim over a three year period. David Hockney would not have a film crew follow him but did allow Wollheim to shoot the documentarty on his own.
The way the film was made is in itself interesting. At one point in the film Wolheim could be seen in a mirror both conversing with Hockney and shooting the film simultaneously. Here was a film being made by someone on the inside of the story being given special but qualified privilege.
David Hockney declared photography as incapable of capturing things as they really are, "this needs looking at" he says with a twinkle. He explains that it was all looking through holes; all Western perspective was – you're not connected with it, you want to be in it. I don't look thought the camera anymore,he said. So, having once embraced photographic techniques to aid his art he has now abandoned the camera, or so he says. Wollheim catches Hockney sneaking some photography into his work and challenges him on this.
I liked the tone of the film and David Hockney comes over as thoughtful, witty and even spiritual. He thinks that three things are required to paint great pictures – hand, eye and heart.
One of my new year resolutions is to get to see more art in Yorkshire. To that end I have created a list of interesting venues in the shire (started under the excuse of work). There are some great places that I'd not given much thought to but have been given a new lease of life – like Cartwright Hall in Bradford and the Leeds Art Gallery.