Apr 052014
 

This morning we held the first Leicester Peoples Photographic Gallery Annual General Meeting. About thirty people attended, so we gathered together in the gallery and worked through our agenda. The two most important issues were opened-up for discussion, the LPPG Constitution, and the election of members to the board who will take forward the interests of the gallery.

The discussion was concise, supportive and generous, and it was great to get the constitution approved, and then a full set of volunteers elected to the board. The gallery will be in safe hands and will be able to move forward into it’s next phase of development.

Ian Davies was expressly thanked for the magnificent job he’d done in setting the gallery going and ensuring that it works as a creative and democratic space. It was a fitting testament that so many people attended the AGM and felt confident that they could stand for positions and help to develop the service the gallery offers to its members.

I’m pleased that this was a high-point for me to bow-out, so I can concentrate on my PhD research over the summer. I think the gallery is going to be constantly surprising and invigorating, and I’m looking forward to helping out when I can.

Dec 122013
 

During the summer Ian Davies from Leicester Peoples Photographic Gallery and I travelled around the country and visited some photographic and contemporary art galleries to find out more about what makes them tick and how they are using social media to develop their relationship with their volunteers, their audiences and the people who fund them. The project was supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Dr Thilo Boek at De Montfort University.

I’m making the report available here for download:

Leicester Peoples Photographic Gallery Network Visits Report 007 FINAL 2013-10-08

Sep 182013
 
Play

Last night I was at the preview for the 2013 Leicester Peoples Photographic Gallery Members Open Exhibition. I chatted to the guests and exhibitors about the photographs that are on display and what they thought of having the chance in Leicester to take part in such a democratic exhibition.

Aug 262013
 

wpid-wpid-BSMmSxhIIAEzDPu-300x225-2013-08-26-08-071-2013-08-26-08-07.jpgNetwork visits for the Leicester Peoples Photographic Gallery took Ian Davies and me to Bradford and Leeds last week. Our first stop was Impressions Gallery, in Centenary Square. Impressions Gallery is located in Bradford’s newest open space, Centenary Square, with a large water-feature and pool. On the day we visited, and despite it not being particularly warm, there were many families and children enjoying paddling in the pool and dodging through the fountains. While we had a look around the gallery, it was unfortunate that we’d not been able to make contact with a member of the team from the gallery who could chat with us. The exhibition space is excellent though, with large white walls and a high ceiling creating a versatile venue. Presently showing was Forever Young, a touring exhibition which is billed as “a retrospective of James Barnor’s street and studio photographs, spanning Ghana and London from the late 1940s to early 1970s.”

wpid-wpid-BSMpNHNIgAASvwJ-300x225-2013-08-26-08-071-2013-08-26-08-07.jpgNext we headed over to the National Media Museum, for a look around the exhibitions and galleries depicting the history of photography, television, gaming and now the internet. It’s always a pleasure to visit the National Media Museum, as there is always a good atmosphere, with a focus on activities for children. They usually end –up reading the news or the weather. The Kodak Gallery on the lower ground floor lays out the history of photography, but it’s interesting that the latest camera in the collection is a Nikon F2. Obviously the gallery doesn’t extend into the digital realm, and there’s not a smart-phone to be found. Is analogue photography is truly becoming a museum display then?

wpid-wpid-BSOGsQRIgAAXFti-225x300-2013-08-26-08-071-2013-08-26-08-07.jpgOur overnight stay in Leeds was at the University of Leeds Halls of Residence, which is a modern building that has very good accommodation and was only ten minutes’ walk from the city centre. We had a lovely meal in the evening, at Veritas, just opposite the Leeds General Infirmary. Ian particularly enjoyed the Sticky Toffee Pudding.

wpid-wpid-BSRtQawIEAAg7wi-300x225-2013-08-26-08-071-2013-08-26-08-07.jpgOur visit to the White Cloth Gallery was especially good, as there is a clear sense of inclusivity and an eagerness to engage visitors with a positive experience. The gallery is something of a mix between a gallery and a bar/café. This enhanced the informality of the visiting experience as it was less likely to be a hushed and academic experience, as had been the case with some of the galleries we had visited over the previous weeks. We spent time chatting with Kirstin Black, the galleries marketing director, who explained that White cloth doesn’t receive any bloc-funding, but instead relies on the support of a benefactor and by running the café and bar, as well as putting on events and hiring the gallery space to the public. It was good to hear about the ethos of inclusivity that White Cloth pursues, so it will be worth keeping in contact and sharing some of the networking skills that Ian has developed with the White Cloth team.

Once again it was well worth the effort of travelling to visit these galleries and finding out more about the approach that each gallery takes to servicing its audience. There are so many variations of approach that it’s possible to pick and choose good practice from each of the galleries and to incorporate that into the development of Leicester Peoples Photographic Gallery.

Aug 152013
 

This week Ian Davies and I have travelled to Cardiff to find out about the photographic community of South Wales, as part of our continuing amplification visits for Leicester Peoples Photographic Gallery [funded by the Joseph Rouwntree Foundation’s Amplified, Resilient Communities Project at De Montfort University]. We wanted to specifically find out about Ffotogallery and Third Floor Gallery, two prominent proponents and champions of photography and photographic practice.

The first leg of our visit took us to Penarth, and the Turner House Gallery, where Ffotogallery hosts it’s main exhibitions. The gallery was purpose built as a display gallery by the wealthy philanthropist James Pyke Thompson in 1888. The gallery has a sense of calm and quite that means it is a good space for contemplation, though on an education day the gallery can be busy and active.

DSCF0593We headed back to Cardiff to the Chapter Arts Centre so that we could experience the Ffotogallery training rooms, and chat about education practice of Ffotogallery and how important hands-on experience is and the resurgence in interest in analogue photography. Walking into the teaching rooms we were greeted with the smell of photo chemicals, and I was instantly transported back to my days in the darkroom at Southport College and my photography course. It was great to see two active darkrooms, and to hear the enthusiasm of Emma Daman Thomas as she explained how the darkrooms operate and what courses are like. Lisa Edgar, head of education at Ffotogallery talked us through the development of the gallery and it’s ethos, and the challenges that established galleries face given the present funding climate.

A quick taxi back into the centre of Cardiff, and we made contact with Maciej Dakowicz who is one of the people driving and championing Third Floor Gallery. Third Floor is an independent gallery space run by a highly-committed and determined team of photographers, who are focussed on keeping their independence from the ‘bloc-funding’ model so that they can develop and maintain their independent voice.

The gallery is aptly titled as it’s at the top of a steep flight of stairs. The present exhibition is “Pictures From The Real World” by David Moore, which revisits photographs taken in the 1980s of people living in Derby. In the centre of the gallery was a TV with a speech of Margaret Thatcher running. I asked what the reaction has been, which according to Małgorzata Kopczyńska, it’s been somewhat mixed. Younger people viewed the video as interesting, whereas older people had a negative response and reaction. A marker of age and time passing.

fotor_WP_20130814_022-1024x767We then met-up with other members of the Third Floor team in the City Arms, which is a stones-throw away from the Millennium Stadium, and has been accorded the honour of being the best pub in Cardiff – which I wouldn’t disagree with. We met with Joni Karanka and Claire Kern who introduced Ian and myself to the delights of the South Wales micro-brewing. A few pints later, and some good contacts made, we stubbled into a taxi to get to the university halls of residence we were staying in (and rather further out of town than I had expected).

The following morning we headed to Cardiff Bay to have a look at the Welsh Assembly home, which was a very nice place to do some planning and some reflection on our visit to Cardiff and the galleries we have seen so far. Next week we are in Bradford and Leeds, followed by a trip to London. We certainly will have plenty of information and interviews to use for the podcast we are going to make. I’m not going to share the opinions and ideas we’ve noted just yet, but it’s been fascinating and invigorating to say the least.

Jul 152013
 
Play

The Royal Photographic Society Exhibition came to Leicester’s People’s Photographic Gallery on Tuesday 9th July. Rob Watson caught up with some of the visitors and supporters of the gallery and asked what they thought of the exhibition.