Photography Down The Line is a series of conversations between artists, photographers and the Director of Stills, a registered charity and centre for photography based in Edinburgh. Started during the time of the Coronavirus lockdown, this series aims to discuss, celebrate and share the ideas of artists at this challenging time.
Photography Down The Line with Nicky Bird (recorded: 3 May 2021)
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Nicky Bird.
Nicky Bird is an artist and Reader in Contemporary Photographic Practice at the Glasgow School of Art. Her current solo show Legacy at Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow, (27 April-6 June 2021) looks back at over fifteen years of her work.
Nicky’s work investigates the contemporary relevance of ‘found’ artefacts, their archives and specific sites through collaborative art processes with people who have significant connections to a latent history. She is interested in how such artefacts, archives and sites carry both social and personal histories. This leads to a key question: what is our relationship to the past, and what is the value we ascribe to it? She has explored this through photography, bookworks, sound, the Internet and New Media. Dialogues with archivists, archaeologists, local community members, local history groups, and museum volunteers are instrumental in her practice. This means the collaborative process, and the physical site, shape the form of final artworks.
Photographs are often the starting point for a project, and their relationship to a present-day landscape. Therefore, living memory – before it becomes ‘history’ – is an important link to all Nicky Bird’s projects, which is why the recent past is of special interest. Since 2007, the use of oral reminiscence and exploration of non-invasive archaeological methods have become embedded in her practice. While the final outcomes of her projects may take different forms (photographs for Beneath the Surface / Hidden Place, 2007-2010, projections and memory maps for Travelling the Archive, 2016, a physical model for Heritage Site, 2016), they share the themes of land and heritage, working with individuals and communities who have witnessed significant change. This means stories and memories of place, work and family life include an aspect of the ‘unmaking’ of place, whether through economic decline and/or regeneration.
For more information:
Photography Down The Line with Arpita Shah (recorded: 27 April 2021)
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Arpita Shah.
Arpita Shah is a visual artist and educator based between Edinburgh and Eastbourne, UK. She works between photography and film exploring the fields where culture and identity meet. As an India-born artist, Shah spent an earlier part of her life living between India, Ireland and the Middle East before settling in the UK. This migratory experience is reflected in her practice, which often focuses on the notion of home, belonging and shifting cultural identities.
Her work has been exhibited across the UK and internationally, including at the Detroit Center of Contemporary Photography (2013); Tramway in Glasgow (2014); Focus Festival in Mumbai, India (2015); Chobi Mela IX in Dhaka, Bangladesh (2017); Autograph ABP in London (2018) Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow (2019) and Impressions Gallery in Bradford (2020). She is the recipient of the 2019 Light Work + Autograph ABP Artist-in-Residence programme in Syracuse NY and her work is held at the National Galleries of Scotland. Arpita is also a photography lecturer at the Open College of Arts, she also co-directs Fòcas Scotland and member of the board of trustees for Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow.
Arpita's recommendations included:
Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow, online event series (see www.streetlevelphotoworks.org):
'Close Up: Colin Gray'
'Close Up: Margaret Mitchell'
'In Focus: Wendy Ewald & Noni Stacey Book Launches'
'Street View: Matthew Finn' at Belfast Exposed (see www.belfastexposed.org)
Trine Søndergaard, 'Nearly Now' at Gammel Holtegaard, Copenhagen (see www.glholtegaard.dk)
Photography Down The Line with Tracy Marshall-Grant (recorded: 21 April 2021)
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Tracy Marshall-Grant.
Tracy is an Arts Director & Producer specialising in the production of photography exhibitions, festivals, education projects and workshops. She is currently Festival Director of Bristol Photo Festival and previously directed LOOK Photo Biennial 2019 while Director of Development at Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool. She was Executive Director at Belfast Exposed Gallery from 2014-18. Tracy has a rich background in the role and vitality of social archives, which inspires much of her work. She has a previous career as Director of Development for a number of international Arts organisations covering the development of work for classical music, visual arts and literature. Prior to this she had also been a Director of Campaigns for health, social welfare and education charities across UK & Ireland.
Photography Down The Line with Louise Fedotov-Clements (recorded: 7 April 2021)
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Louise Fedotov-Clements, Artistic Director, QUAD & Director, FORMAT International Photography Festival.
Louise has been the Artistic Director of QUAD since 2001, and is the Director of FORMAT, which she co-founded in 2004. An independent curator since 1998 directing commissions, publications, performances and exhibitions. Guest Curator for international exhibitions/festivals including Dong Gang (Yeongwol) South Korea; Photoquai Biennale Musée du quai Branly Paris; Les Rencontres Arles, Discoveries; Dali Photo, China; Poikkeustila 2020 Finland; Venice Biennale EM15; Photo Beijing, and LishuiPhoto China; Korea International Photo Festival. An international awards advisor, she has contributed to numerous publications as producer/writer/Editorial Team and a juror, portfolio reviewer, speaker in Europe, America, Africa & Asia.
Photography Down The Line with Christina Riley from The Nature Library (recorded: 31 March 2021)
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Christina Riley from The Nature Library.
Christina Riley is an artist based on Scotland's west coast. Using photography, found objects, writing and installations, her work draws acute attention to the details of the natural world with a particular focus on the sea's edges. In 2019 she was longlisted for the Nan Shepherd Prize for Nature Writing and later that year started The Nature Library, a travelling library and reading space. Her photo series The Beach Today will be published by Guillemot Press in 2021.
@thenaturelib (Instagram and Twitter)
Book, podcast and screen recommendations from Christina:
The Infinite Monkey Cage podcast (BBC Radio 4)
The Tidal Sense (BBC Radio 3)
Rachel Carson (author)
Rebecca Marr (photographer)
Frances Scott (photographer)
Holm Sound: Transmissions from Orkney
The Book of Delights by Ross Gay
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Richard Feynman, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out & Fun To Imagine
Drowned River: The Death & Rebirth of Glen Canyon on the Colorado by Mark Klett / Rebecca Solnit / Byron Wolfe
Photography Down The Line with Francis McKee (recorded: 24 March 2021)
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Francis McKee.
Francis McKee is an Irish writer and curator based in Glasgow. His most recent books include How to Know What’s Really Happening (2017), Even the Dead Rise Up (2018) and Dark Tales (2019).
McKee has been Director of the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow since 2006. He is a Research Fellow at The Glasgow School of Art.