posted by Bridget on 12 December 2013
It would be shame if UK photography courses were reduced simply because of the increased cost of attending university and the consequential drop in student numbers. But there is evidence suggesting that a fine arts degree is becoming a privilege of the monied few and the overseas student.
A survey compiled last year by the Higher Education Academy, concluded that higher fees are having an impact on the choice of institution and degree course, and on a potential student's geographical mobility. Which, the survey suggests, "tends to disadvantage those from lower income backgrounds who often choose lower status institutions close to home as a way of reducing the cost of study."
In a feature in last Saturday's FT, Rachel Spence wrote about three new initiatives that were seeking to replace the publically provided universal education with charitable foundations designed to support talented students who could not afford to attend art school.
Spence quotes Chris Olifi as saying he would not have been able to attend art school today because of the high costs of tuition and living expenses, particularly in London. Olifi who teaches has noticed [as have others] that his students are increasingly coming from wealthy backgrounds.
As someone who goes into colleges to talk to students on a regular basis I have noticed not just the issue of a monied background, but the increase of overseas students who are often funded by their national governments [Denmark is an example].
There is of course nothing wrong with students from a wealthy background or from abroad studying art, indeed it adds to the rich mix of work being produced today. But it will matter for the future richness of the British cultural scene if our art schools are forced to exclude talent, because the talent cannot afford to pay the fees.
The UK is still riding on the high of Cool Britannia and is still recognised as a place which produces interesting and creative ideas across most cultural platforms. But this is a result of providing education to all, regardless of class, race or ability to pay. We need to level the playing field again and ruthlessly make talent the key criteria for entrance to creative study.
posted by Bridget on 11 December 2013
If you haven't brought all your Christmas presents yet and know someone who is, wants to be, once thought they might like to be...a photographer, then take a look at this hilarious little book which while a tad cynical, nonetheless brilliantly captures the stereotypes of all varieties of photographers that we all know and have met.
Click on the image and you will not only see more of the book but be directed to the buy button on Thomas's publisher's website.
posted by Bridget on 05 December 2013
There is a wonderful moment on the train journey to Derby from London, when you arrive at the East Midlands Parkway Station and out of the window, towering above you are the cooling towers of the Ratcliffe on Soar Power Station. These concrete monoliths are amazing structures and a wonderful expression of industrial beauty.
There are other views that I have lodged in my memory bank, all of which have something industrial lying at the heart of them. The Pont du Gard roman aquaduct; the view of Canary Wharf at night approached from the A2; the Didcot Power Station nestled in the Oxfordshire countryside; wind turbines along the Pas de Calais coastline; the FT printing presses at night along the A13 heading east.
So I was thrilled to read that The Photographers' Gallery will be exhibiting David Lynch's series The Factory Photographs, opening on 17 January 2014.
It is clear that Lynch has an affinity with the industrial process and is a kindred spirit in an appreciation of industry, so passionately expressed by this quote...
"I love smokestack industries. I love fire. I love the sound of a big factory. I love smoke billowing from the smokestacks. I love factory workers. I love great giant furnaces and steel, you know, implements. And I like it all the way down to medical instruments, too. I like oral pathology. I like (laughs) many, many, many things like these. But all these conjure a feeling. I like factory neighborhoods and the way they are, as a mood, as a world."
So excitedly I went in search of Lynch's photographs on the web, but with the exception of just one or two PR released photos, I failed to find anything.
This is curious from someone who has so much presence on the internet when it comes to his music and films. So I will settle for the analogue only experience in the New Year, in this era of digital industry.
posted by Bridget on 04 December 2013
Janet Delaney moved into the South of Market area of San Francisco in the late 1970s, a down-at-heel area, home to a mixed community of immigrants and blue collar workers living in cheap low rise housing.
The area was identified as ripe for development so Janet took her large format camera onto the streets to capture not just what was about to be demolished but also document the changes as they took place.
The result is a book called South of Marketwhich has just been published by Mack Books. It is clearly historic in nature, but it does not lapse into nostalgia or sentimentality as so many projects of this nature can.
Janet's keen eye observed the effects of the structural alterations as they occurred alongside portraits of the people who continue to life and work in the neighbourhood.
Regeneration and gentrification is part of the constant ebb and flow of big cities, but as Janet asks, it is important to remember that while some people gain others have to pay for the change.
This photo, taken after a fire in an apartment block was chosen by Janet for her My Best Shot interview in The Guardian, which you can read here.