So, after taking an evening and a morning to hang the B&W analogue prints for the photography part of the Gray’s School of Art short course exhibition, the show opened on a Sunday only to close on the following Tuesday. Not because it was cr@p, but due to new restrictions brought in to ‘manage’ the spread of Covid-19.
The analogue prints were photographed (digitally!) as they were taken down, and have been mastered into a slideshow. It illustrates our efforts, but is second best to seeing the real things.
There has been some loose talk about hiring an art space later in the year to reprise the exhibition, but until then, take a look below
(If you want to know which were mine, then look out for puffins, canal and narrowboat life, a pair of size tens and a sweet chestnut on a fence post. You should find seven in all, eight if you count the one included twice in error!)
It’s time, once again, to highlight this year’s ‘short course’ exhibition hosted by Gray’s School of Art. In amongst the enthusiasts’ offerings of ceramics, jewellery, design, drawings, paintings and hand-crafted bags and kilts, you will find an exhibition of old-school, black and white film photography to which yours truly has contributed.
If you are in or around Aberdeen in the next week or two, do pop in to to Gray’s School of Art and have a gander. It’s free!
It’s become a sort tradition For those of an apt disposition To add to the mix Some black and white pics At the Gray’s School of Art Exhibition.
Did you know that, today, the 9th of April, is National Unicorn Day? No? Neither did I until last week.
I struggled to believe that such a ‘day’ existed, so I Googled it and, yup, there it is – April 9, National Unicorn Day. How bizarre! I have but just the one question. Why? (Apparently, it’s to give children a fun day to celebrate and nothing at all to do with a cynical marketing ploy by toy manufacturers.)
My Google search also highlighted an old Change.org petition that sought to move the ‘celebratory’ day from 9 April to 6 June. Who does this kind of thing? Or is it me that’s the idiot and not the petitioners (don’t answer that!)?
Anyway, just to show that coincidences happen all the time, I had, purely by chance, just written a unicorn limerick for my ice-cream buddy.
She’d asked for a copy of one of my B&W film photography exhibition prints, a print of some street art in Aberdeen that shows a girl holding a unicorn, so I wrote a dedication in limerick fashion and pasted it to the back of the picture frame.
So here, on the one and only occasion that I will recognise National Unicorn Day, is a unicorn limerick:
An idea that some can’t resist, Is that unicorns really exist. But they’re hard to espy And that explains why You don’t see them unless you’re half-pissed!
It’s that time of year again when students of the RGU Gray’s School of Art short-course on B&W film photography finalise their exhibition prints.
It’s always helpful to get an exhibition print ‘in the bag’ early on during the course as it takes some of the pressure off. I managed to do that this year, which was just as well as I then struggled for weeks to make progress on any others. Finally, I got a couple more finished just in time to be considered for the exhibition. Phew, panic over!
The short-course exhibition encompasses more than just B&W film photography, it includes exhibits from around 500 students covering: Drawing, Printmaking, Painting, Jewellery, Ceramics, Fashion, Printed Textiles, Kilt Making, Bag Making and 3D Design. All-in-all it’s an impressive show and, for anyone local to Aberdeen, this year the exhibition runs from Monday 11 March to Friday 22 March with the following opening hours:
(Parking restrictions operate from 08.00 – 16.00, Monday to Friday).
The private viewing, at which light refreshments are provided, is on Sunday 10 March for exhibitors and their families and friends (in other words, anyone can go because, for a limited period only, I am friends with the world!) and that takes place from 10.30 – 14.30.
To date, I cannot recall any risqué photographs being shown (or taken!), we leave that sort of thing to the life-drawing classes, but I suspect we’re all just ‘too British’ to indulge in taking pics of models in the ‘altogether’, which made me think…
A man with a camera once said Shooting nudes just filled him with dread! He’d lose his composure On over-exposure So focused on landscapes instead!
…when I see that print coming in the developer, it’s as if I win the lottery” (Don McCullin)
It’s approaching the time of year when students on the Gray’s School of Art ‘short course’ on black and white film photography begin to panic and wonder if they’ll ever get a print worthy of the end-of-course exhibition. I’ve got one, thank goodness, as it takes the pressure off, but I’d like a couple more.
I had high hopes for at least one other (my ‘ice-cream buddy’ has seen an early version of it and has asked for a copy when it’s finished!), but I have just spent a frustrating hour and a half in my own darkroom and can’t seem to get it right. Nevertheless, I’m already in awe at a couple of pictures that my friends on the course will be showing so I think that bodes well for the exhibition.
This has all coincided with a documentary on the veteran photographer Don McCullin entitled ‘Looking for England’ that has just been shown on BBC 4. He’s an interesting character, albeit of his era, who is renowned for his compelling, if at times horrific, photographs of various global catastrophes and warring outbreaks.
The documentary is on the BBC iPlayer and worth catching if only to view the developing landscape of ‘Englishness’ throughout McCullin’s life from his street photography of the 50s and 60s to the modern day.
It also shows some clips of him in his darkroom, as he prefers film photography to digital:
I have a dark room, and I still process film, but digital photography can be a totally lying kind of experience; you can move anything you want… the whole thing can’t be trusted, really.
I don’t know if it’s intentional, but the programme also coincides with a retrospective of McCullin’s work at Tate Britain that runs until May (memo to self: organise that weekend away NOW!).
Here’s the limerick:
A photographer was heard to remark That shooting with film was a lark. ‘Tis a thing that envelops, Consumes and develops And one that keeps you in the dark!
It’s taken a while, but I finally got around to re-hanging the ‘picture’ wall to include the latest Gray’s School of Art short course exhibits. Looks good!
It’s not false modesty to say they’re “okay, but not fine art”. Perhaps they don’t even match my strapline of artless but enticing, but what they are is a set of half-decent B&W analogue prints that gave a great deal of pleasure in the taking and making of them (frustration too, but mainly fun). And anyway, this quote from Susan Sontag gives us all hope:
“Time eventually positions most photographs, even the most amateurish, at the level of art.”
I can wait …
Postscript: Here’s a pic of my ‘new’ Nikon F3 HP film camera with its motor drive, 50mm prime lens and 35-135mm zoom lens. It was given away, free, to a good home; well to me anyway!
Until now, my B&W analogue pics have been taken with a Canon EOS 300 camera with autofocus and a variety of modern lenses (although I don’t always use autofocus). It will be interesting to see how the Nikon matches up.
According to Ken Rockwell’s web site, the F3 was in production from 1980-2001, remaining so even after the F4 and F5 were introduced. He gives the F3 the accolade of being one of Nikon’s best pro cameras.
The HP model was introduced in 1982 and going by its serial number, mine was made in 1983 – 34 years old and still in almost mint condition!
The Gray’s Art College short course exhibition has now finished and was a great success. There are some really skilled practitioners across the various disciplines that were on show. (I’ve already enrolled for next year’s analogue photography course and look forward to receiving my next student card!).
Meantime, I’ve decided that only three-and-a-half-year-olds should be allowed as critics at the show. Why? Simply because I was emailed by the mother of one such child who so liked one of my photographs that he wanted to take it home with him. The lad has taste and thanks to a helpful colleague I have now had the photograph digitised so that I can print a copy and frame it to give to the young man as he clearly knows fine art when he sees it:
This picture of a tram was probably my personal favourite from my entries in the exhibition, but it always annoys me to look at it. Why? Because if you look at the hotel to the right, the building is not aligned vertically. It was a difficult picture to print, lots of regions that needed different exposures or contrasts which I managed okay, but I forgot the simple expedient of checking the verticals were, er, vertical <<expletive deleted>>. Meantime:
How many photographers does it take to change a light bulb?
Ten. One to change the light bulb, eight to share experiences of changing light bulbs and how the light bulb could have been changed differently, and a photography tutor to be politely underwhelmed by your ability to change light bulbs in the first place.
The red lights in the darkrooms at Gray’s School of Art have been burning brightly these last few weeks as students on the RGU ‘short course’ black and white film photography classes have been desperately trying to produce some prints worthy of inclusion in the forthcoming short course exhibition. It’s not just a photographic exhibition; the various courses that are run include everything from drawing to kilt-making. All levels of incompetence are catered for, even mine, and they all somehow manage to come together in a quite impressive show.
So, if you are close by Aberdeen from Monday 14 March to Sunday 20 March inclusive, take a look in Gray’s School of Art: Mon-Fri 9am-10pm, Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 9am-3pm. (Parking restrictions apply between 8am and 4pm on weekdays) .
This is an early test print of the dilapidated library at Inverkeithny in Aberdeenshire. I rather liked it and thought it was worth working on a bigger and better version with an eye to inclusion in the exhibition, but even at this stage it didn’t pass muster with the course tutor due to the distracting foreground foliage. Shows how much I know!