It was lovely to receive the Fisheye Photobook in the post today! I spent some time over a cup of tea looking through the book and discovering lots of interesting image makers (After shamelessly flicking through to find my images!). It's a really interesting concept taking content which was first curated online and then sharing that as a book, especially the instagram index section at the back. Hopefully it's successful for Fisheye and they continue making the books. Click <Here> to buy a copy.
I recently headed down to London to spend some time visiting Photo London and to attend the Magnum Graduate Awards. It was lovely to be nominated for the award and although I knew I wasn't one of the 10 selected winners, I thought it would still be interesting to attend. Living in Devon, I feel very removed from London, sometimes it doesn't even feel like both places are in the same country. So I think it's even more important to leave the rural idyll for the bright lights of the big city every now and then.
It was lovely catching up with friends and Colleagues and my highlights included, seeing Niall Mcdiarmid's work at the Museum of London, The Peckham 24 show, IPF exhibition at House of Vans, Ron Jude & David Chandler's talk and Dana Lixenberg at the Photographers gallery. 17 year old me also got very excited seeing Ed Templeton and having a flash back to when I met him in London 20 years ago.
I also spent an afternoon at Offprint, which I usually find a little disappointing, as it's an event I always get excited about beforehand. I normally set myself a budget, to control my spending, though, I struggled to part with my £100 and spent most of my time judging books by their covers. Perhaps it's the intimidating amount of books, or maybe that most of the work doesn't appeal to me. On one stall, I casually flicked through a book and the publisher, (kindly) offered to explain the work to me as it was quite complex. It seems the idea has become more important than the image and there definitely appears to be a movement towards an anti aesthetic intellectualised discourse in contemporary photo book publishing. I struggle with this, as the images always have to draw me into the idea and the work. This doesn't mean I am against photographers using varied visual languages and design to realise their work in book form, it's that the images need to have some aesthetic appeal, nuance, soul or emotion to intrigue me in the first place.
Thankfully the Five Bells received a favourable review from Michael Deacon in the Telegraph Magazine, although he seemed slightly more in love with Devon than the food, which as an outsider I can completely relate too. I have to (metaphorically) pinch myself every now and then, just to make sure I don't ever take where I live for granted.
The Telegraph commissioned me to take some photographs of the Five Bells Pub at Clyst Hydon to accompany a restaurant review by Michael Deacon. I knew I might need an extra pair of hands so I enlisted Macula member Jazz Moffatt to help out. The Pub was tucked away in the depths of Mid-Devon, a former coaching house built in the 16th century, definitely the rural idyll. The food looked sublime, so I hope they receive a favourable review.
I had a really rewarding day at Plymouth College of Art at the end of April. I was invited to give a talk about my work in the morning and then in the afternoon I had the opportunity to sit down with the 3rd year BA students and discuss their work. I was really impressed with the quality of their projects and enjoyed chatting to the students about their plans, hopes and aspirations. They were a really lovely group and it was great to see how close they all seemed. I look forward to seeing how they progress once they leave the education bubble!
The French Magazine Fisheye have produced a Photobook compiled from Photographers they have showcased over the last couple of years. They have kindly included some of my work in this first edition and I am looking forward to seeing the physical book and all the talented photographers included in it! I think it’s a super idea as I like the notion of buying a book where you have the opportunity to discover lots of different photographers. These compilation books are quite common in other artistic disciplines like Illustration, but not so prevalent within photography, so lets hope that changes. You can buy the book from their website.
Just before Easter I had the pleasure of delivering a lecture to the BA Photography students at Bath University. It always seems quite daunting beforehand trying to fill an hour, but in reality I always end up running out of time! The students were lovely, really engaged and asked lots of questions. In the Afternoon I sat down with several final year students to look at their work and offer some advice. It was a super opportunity to see the different work they were making and their strong personal motivations for the projects.
The final speaker in the New Contemporaries series was Freya Najade. Freya published not one but two books last year, so I was really interested to hear Freya talk about her experience of publishing. Freya gave a super talk and like all the speakers in this series she tailored the lecture perfectly to the audience. I wanted this series to also give the students an insight into the realities of earning a living and working as a photographer. This is something that very rarely gets mentioned in talks, photographers preferring instead to focus on their artistic practices and personal work. It was really interesting to learn that Freya also set up a photography company with her partner Marcela Spadaro, Naaro, which specifically deals with architectural photography. As a recent graduate myself I found the lecture really thought provoking and insightful. It has been a real pleasure to curate this series of talks and that all the speakers delivered such interesting and inspirational lectures was wonderful!
Images © Freya Najade
The fourth speaker in the New Contemporaries series was Lewis Bush. I was slightly sad like many others that Lewis had recently decided to stop writing his Disphotic Blog, but really excited to meet him and hear his talk. Lewis delivered an excellent lecture using his practice to help illustrate the different directions you can take as a photographer. He discussed all the various roles that form his practice, photographer, writer, curator and teacher, highlighting the importance of this diversification. I was particularly interested in his series Shadows of the State which examines the phenomenon of listening stations, originally used during the cold war to broadcast information to spies. It was slightly haunting listening to some of the messages that always contained a string of numbers spoken by a sampled voice. I admired the amount of research and investigation that had gone into discovering the locations of these stations and it rekindled memories of when I was fascinated by similar subject matter.
Images © Lewis Bush from Shadows of the State
The third speaker in the New Contemporaries series was Tereza Zelenkova. I have admired Tereza’s work for some time so it was a pleasure to be able to invite her to talk at Plymouth University. Tereza works predominantly in black and white and her images are often concerned with mythologies around people or places. There are also obvious elements of fiction and storytelling within her work which is a device that I use as part of my own practice. Tereza gave a really interesting and informative talk, discussing several of her projects and the motivations behind her work. It was also a privilege to see several new images from her current series and I look forward to seeing how it develops over the coming years.
A few Sundays ago Jes and I went for a wander near West Bay, Dorset before visiting my parents. Obviously these cliffs are now more widely known due to the ITV series Broadchurch. Though before televisual fame they had been beautifully captured by Jem Southam in his Rockfall series. Jes and I both spent a few happy hours seeing and capturing the same images, apart from the dogs, I got there first!
I invited Max Ferguson the founder editor of Splash & Grab magazine to come and talk to the students as part of the New Contemporaries series. Max gave a really inspiring talk, initially discussing his last major body of photographic work, the poignant‘ WE ARE RWANDAN ‘, which examined the lasting effects of the genocide in 1994. After which he explained how over the last few years his focus had been on publishing, initiating Splash & Grab Magazine with a collective of former UWE students. He discussed the difficulties of publishing, the importance of social media and how creating Splash & Grab had opened up lots of opportunities for him, including working at the FT magazine. His talk was thoughtful, considered and inspiring and hopefully it has left a lasting impression on the students.
David Chandler asked me to curate a series of talks for Plymouth University to run on consecutive Wednesdays in March. The First talk on Wednesday was by Lola Paprocka. Lola set up and runs Palm Studios which showcases photographers and artists through creative projects, online features, exhibitions, events and has its own publishing house and distribution called Palm. Lola gave an open and honest talk to the students about her photographic work, setting up Palm and working with the Independent Photography Festival. She discussed the importance of being proactive and how collaboration with groups and individuals can be really productive. One of my aims for the series was to invite some speakers that the younger students would be able to relate too. So it was great to get some feedback from a student that she really engaged with Lola’s talk because she could relate to her experiences and she also found it helpful that Lola explained how she made work.
Oli Udy, Myself & Lola
I was extremely honoured to talk alongside Swiss photographer Anne Golaz as part of a dialogue day, ‘Rural Deep’ at Plymouth University. It was interesting to see the similarities in our practices and also the distinctions between our methods of working.
‘Rural Deep will feature presentations by two photographic artists whose recent work is concerned with the evolving relationships between people and rural environments in very distinctive, localised contexts in Europe. Combining and juxtaposing different photographic registers in their work, both artists disrupt conventional documentary models to construct new ways of seeing and imagining rural experience. Their rural scenes shift between dark mystery and sunlit pastoral, between the sublime and the banal. Tradition and modernity are often awkwardly aligned, and quotidian reality is undercut by elements of fictional narrative, ambiguity and the absurd. In their different ways, Anne Golaz and Robert Darch present multi-textural visions of rural life, in which age-old rhythms and rituals have taken on new and often surprising meanings and associations.’ David Chandler
It has been a busy couple of weeks for my series, ‘The White Whale’. Now published by Dodho Magazine.