Meetings of Contemporary North West are held every two months, on the odd-numbered months of the year, usually on the second or third Monday of the month. They are held at Days Inn, Charnock Richard Services, PR7 5LR, between junctions 27 and 28 of the M6. (Days Inn is situated on the northbound carrigeway.) Evening meetings begin at 7.30pm and end around 10.00pm.
Work of Contemporary North West can be found on the web at www.contemporarynorthwest.co.uk .
17th March 2014 Days Inn Charnock Richard.
Image and Text
The focus of the meeting on 17 March was how Image and Text can be combined. The meeting started with looking at examples of artist’s work, such as Hamish Fulton and Mark Power, who had used text to inform the viewer about their chosen subject matter. This was followed by participants sharing work they had with them. These included two very good pieces, one that looked at the recent loss of the Preston footballer, Sir Tom Finney and another piece completed by a student, which was in black and white. This latter piece was a sequence of images and accompanying text that followed the creator’s journey while a friend was unwell.
There is hope for an exhibition in the future and finding a suitable venue is the initial priority. Any suggestions or contacts with curators would be most welcome. It was also noted that the subscription for the website will need renewing this time next year. Everyone is encouraged to send in new work, articles and reviews of exhibitions or books.
The next meeting will be on Monday 19 May, starting at 7.30.
20th January 2014 - Days Inn, Charnock Richard, Lancashire.
I thought our meeting last Monday night went very well. There were ten of us present, of whom five had come with one or more projects to show. Before the meeting I had thought we should have managed more than five, but in fact that was probably just about the right number. It meant that we each had some 25 minutes at our disposal, long enough to show and talk about a good number of images and not too long to be boring.
John C began the evening by showing us pictures of his vegetables: his project is to document the cultivation of his garden over the year. The images were interesting and appetizing. The gardening work involved is clearly considerable and this came over nicely in his presentation. John is also working on another series involving eating. He takes his camera to restaurants and photographs the waiting staff, his fellow diners, their meals and anything else there that takes his fancy. This was a mixed bunch of images, and some perhaps need more thought before including them in a finished project; but all were an obvious source of enjoyment, both to John and to us.
He was followed by Alan, who similarly had two projects. The first was also about eating places, some smart and sophisticated restaurants, others offering the fastest of fast food. Alan photographs just the exteriors of these places, which are all located on the coastal strip south of Blackpool. They will be linked in the finished project to the bus routes that provide the public transport along the strip. I thought that some of these pictures had an Evans-esque quality to them, and one or two reminded me of Eugene Atget, except that they were in colour. Alan’s second project was both novel and entertaining. He is making a series of pictures of a friend of his, dressed up in various guises – for example, a butcher, a clergyman, even a photographer – and the full length figure then cut into three horizontal strips in such a way that the figure can be reconstituted with different parts into a combination of mixed ‘careers’ – the model being the child’s book of re-combinable animals that we are all familiar with. The effect was very amusing. Alan hopes to put this forward for an MRPS.
Nigel came next with a series of photographs taken of the Barbican estate in the City of London. This is ‘brutalist’ architecture at its best, constructed in the sixties and seventies on the war-ravaged area around London Wall, and it provides an infinity of opportunities for a photographer. All Nigel’s images had been shot over two days on a recent visit, in very bad weather, but this in no way affected the quality of the photography. He intends to go back in better weather and spend more time there, and I hope that in due course he will offer us some more of the same.
Keith then showed us pictures of the Isle of Lewis, a series he has been shooting over the last 17 years and is still continuing. It began in monochrome and lately, with his digital camera, has ventured into colour. Lewis is a place where time passes slowly, and Keith’s object is to document the changes that time exacts if you can wait long enough. These were elegiac images that reflected Keith’s careful and perhaps slightly melancholy approach to landscape. Some of us thought the colour images were more successful than the monochrome at revealing the true soul of the land, and the infinite variations in decaying brick and rampant vegetation, amid the sea and sky.
The final 25 minutes were mine. I used them to show my ‘small-space’ landscapes in which various unpretentious objects are defined by the physical spaces in which they find themselves. This is a fairly recent venture for me, though I have shown some of the images before. The project has moved on and I now have more of them, and intend eventually to incorporate them into a book.
The evening displayed very nicely some of the variety of work the group is doing. I felt now and again that perhaps we were allowing too much scope to the presenters and not enough to feedback from the viewers, but nobody seemed to mind. How and when to offer suggestions is not an easy matter to decide, and even potentially helpful advice is not always welcome. Yet I think taking pictures is only one part of photography. Learning from them is equally important, but a much harder thing to do. I would hope that we could push a little further in this direction in some future meetings.
As a result of a good attendance on Monday, our surplus has gone back up to £15, which we will carry forward into the future. Our next meeting is on 17 March. Andy has kindly agreed to lead it. He will be considering the difficult issue of text with images – by which, he says, he does NOT mean titles.
24 January 2014
18th November 2013 - Days Inn M6, Charnock Richard, Lancashire
Keith opened the evening with an explanation of how his project, recently published in the form of a Blurb book (Cumbrian Coast Revisited), diverged from his normal pursuit of Lakeland pictorialism to take a contemporary pathway, inflective rather than reflective of the environment being explored. He described how he had taken three aspects of his own nature and used these as 'filters' for selecting what, when and how a subject or scene was captured using a Leica rangefinder and its 'normal', 50mm lens. The consistent application of this approach over many years produced a body of work which is as descriptive of his own inward querying as it is outward expression of a continuing curiosity and fascination with a place he finds different from any other he's explored using a camera. John followed Keith with a presentation of his project in which people taking photographs became, in turn, the subject(s) for his own pictures (a set of which has been published in the CNW Blurb book 'A Personal View'').
‘In the second half of the evening Andy revisited two of his completed projects, one being the portraiture of people within a local park in which the subjects had taken their own image using a long air release connected to his camera and the second a study of people who had gained new jobs in a Sainsburys supermarket, performing very different roles from those held in the manufacture of pottery, an activity previously employing them in buildings which used to occupy that same site. The evening closed with the showing of a miscellany of images from various contributors, including one aerial series of a recent hosting of the Professional World Firework Championships in Blackpool.’