Brighton Photo Biennial: Brighton Photo Fringe
OCA made its fourth student group visit to Brighton Photo Biennial at the end of October this year. The trip took place over three days, from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon, around an itinerary planned in response to generous feedback from students who’d attended in 2016. (Many thanks if you were one of those students – your input was invaluable.)
The emphasis for Day One of this year’s trip was on Brighton Photo Fringe. Fringe (or BPF) runs alongside Brighton Photo Biennial as a separate, complementary, festival. It supports photographers to organise self-curated exhibitions across the Brighton area as well as selecting themed work and commissioning new work for its indoor and outdoor hubs. The core theme around this year’s BPF took inspiration from Marvin Heiferman’s book Photography Changes Everything (Aperture, 2012). The book collates “a series of original essays, stories and images that explore the many ways photography shapes our culture and our lives” and explores how photography changes “Who we are, what we do, what we see, where we go, what we want and how we remember” making it essential reading for students of photography & visual culture.
Friday afternoon was spent at the BPB Collectives and Youth Hub at Phoenix Studios. Informal introductions between students, Photography Programme Leader Gina Lundy & Photography Tutor Jayne Taylor (yours truly) were followed by viewing and discussing approaches to peer-group working and ‘collectives’. The Collectives hub presented a broad range of approaches to producing and exhibiting collaborative work around shared themes and interests, e.g. alternative processes or responses to a specific place. Ontic Collective, Form, Map6 and London Alternative Photography were just some of the collectives exhibiting. The value of a peer-group network as part of any creative practice really cannot be overstated: students and artists at every level benefit hugely from the support, knowledge, feedback & motivation peer-groups can offer.*
One unexpected surprise of the afternoon was the chance to visit Rocket Artists open studio at Phoenix and see some of the work in active progress there. Another was the chance for students to chat to photographer Phil le Gal, whose lenticular images depicting life in the Shetlands (as part of the Map6 Collective display) were a highlight in terms of binding form and concept together.
Friday evening saw us meeting as group for a second time, this time on the other side of Brighton at Regency Town House, where we were treated to an after-hours guided introduction by Tim Andrews to his exhibition Over Hills and Seas. Since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2005, Tim has invited hundreds of photographers – some famous, others just starting out – to take his portrait. The resulting bodies of work, Over the Hill and Over Hills and Seas, raise a whole set of questions around identity, portraiture/self-portraiture, collaboration and authorship, and present a fascinating range of different photographic approaches to a single subject.
Tim was incredibly generous with his time in sharing some of the stories and insights – some hilarious, others incredibly poignant – behind the photographs and the various collaborative relationships. Tim was possibly even happier, though, to join us all afterwards at a nearby pub (called, appropriately enough, The Bottoms’ Rest) where as a group we had the chance to refuel, catch up, swap notes on the day’s events and think about Day Two…
* What has been your peer-group experience as an OCA student? Do you engage with the discussion forums, study visits or a regional group? If not, what holds you back? Leave a comment here or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.
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