In October I ran creative writing and light art workshops at Manchester Central Library as part of the build up to the Enlighten Manchester Festival of Light and Sound Art. These workshops explored themes of memory and identity using creative writing and a final session of light and shadow play.

The workshops were split into sections, the first introduced participants to the library resources for interesting reading and inspiration material in order to explore their own memories to tell stories in interesting literary ways. The second used experimental literary techniques to create new writings and further refine work for the final week. In the final session I introduced everyone to various light and shadow play techniques and long exposure photography. They also used their own writing to create pictures in the shadow word style I use in my own practice and in my Enlighten Manchester final piece “The Stories Under Our Feet“.

The inspiration for these workshops came from a previous project with the Stroke Association, which delivered workshops in creative writing, visual art and photography to help stroke survivors to explore their memories (I have written more on this project here: Curating Stroke: Stories of the Self Through Art and Science).

I’m really pleased with the workshops, I only wish I could have had longer to help develop more work as three sessions only provided a taster of what is possible!

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Light Weather is my first solo exhibition in the Link Gallery, Manchester. The exhibition comprises of two parts: the Link is a large-scale installation, at one end of the gallery there is an abstract sky lit up with coloured flashes of light, throughout the rest of the gallery there are coloured pools of light suspended above the floor. The Foyer space shows some of my abstract light photography and an experimental light sculpture.

The installation is a complete experiment. It’s not often I have the opportunity to work in such a large and unusual space where I can let my imagination run wild (time and health and safety restrictions aside). So I have responded to the space to create an installation which is similar to a stage set. Nothing is naturalistic, the sky and pools of light are abstractions of what they represent, and are lit up with bright colours appealing to the senses. People can walk through the set, as both participants and audience, and hopefully enjoy it as a memorable interruption to their day.

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Throughout the week there have been many people who have stopped and stared up at the flashing sky suspended from the ceiling of a hexagon in the Link. People have commented that they have spent a good 10 minutes or so looking at the exhibition and listening to my specially matched playlist of music, enjoying the calming effect it has had. The Link is essentially a walkway from one building to the next, many people just walk through and only glance at what is on the walls, so it is nice to know that my work has made some people pause from where they are going. Others said they enjoyed the use of the space as a full-scale installation as this has not happened for quite some time.

Overall I’m pleased with the exhibition and how well it has been received. As I said before, it was an experiment, plus I only had a day and a half to install it all, so there are things I’d change. I only learnt these during the installation and when it was up – the main one being that the hallway windows were too light during the day, and unfortunately I was not allowed to black them out due to health and safety regulations. However, the overall look and effect was as intended (especially at night), and it has encouraged me to continue to be ambitious with my ideas and set ups.

I’ve had a couple of months to ruminate on this photography book by Rinko Kawauchi. I like to make a cup of tea and sit down with it, gently turning the pages bound with a Japanese binding technique, and admiring the way the photos have been placed together.

The pictures are varied in subject matter but all give the impression that they have been happened upon by Kawauchi during a lifetime of  travelling around, camera poised to capture life through her perspective. She uses her camera’s settings skillfully and artistically, over-exposing on some to give an ethereal effect; in the case of her Japanese blossoms the images lift my spirits and bring a smile to my face each time I look at them.

Rinko Kawauchi Blossom picture from 'Illuminance'

Each picture subtly relates to the next, be it the echo of a shape or colour, a line of light in a swimming pool travelling across to the strips of light on a tube train; or energetic splashes of water from swimmers to the static dew droplets caught on spiders’ webs.

Rinko Kawauchi from 'Illuminance'

Then there is the light. As the title of the book suggests, light, even in the darker pictures, is the essential tool to making each picture so special. Orbs of light are scattered across the body of work, appearing at intervals like old friends, never seen to the naked eye, but caught by the camera’s lens.

Rinko Kawauchi Light picture from 'Illuminance'

The moments she captures make up the stuff of life, and with her help, we notice beauty in some of the most inconsequential of subjects. A new colour palette and way of looking at surroundings emerges, and for that, I find this book visually and soulfully nourishing.

Rinko Kawauchi from 'Illuminance'

Falling Triangles

March 2, 2012

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Natural Light

January 6, 2012

I went for a walk in the parks and woodland around Didsbury, Manchester on a sunny winter day to see what I could capture, here are the results.

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