What is public space actually? Just because we can roam freely in the space, doesn't necessarily make it public. Most of the spaces in the city are actually private property, which give the illusion that it is public space. Where are we allowed to roam freely? Is anywhere really public space?
Today I visited Derby to see the FORMAT International Photography Festival. The festival featured a huge range of different photographers and artists, in a range of different locations across the city. With around 14 different locations to visit, I enjoyed a whole day of viewing a wide range of diverse and contemporary photography, displayed in a vast variety of experimental and unique ways. In terms of my degree show task group, curation, this was the perfect way to get an understanding of how a wide range of photographers with very different practices are brought together with the same theme; Habitat.
I left this exhibition feeling incredibly inspired, it encouraged me to consider alternative ways of displaying and presenting my photography. It highlighted how certain techniques can bring a vast collection of different practices together. I think you get so used to seeing work displayed in the same old way that it becomes boring, so seeing these techniques really bring a fresh and contemporary feel to the photographic work. I also think that holding it in Derby was a really good decision as it meant I got to experience and wander a city that I’ve never been to before and I really enjoyed it. I definitely received some inspiration and influence from the festival and will be keeping it in mind when it comes to setting up my degree show.
The question of what is public space and what is private land features heavily throughout my practice. I often get security guards approaching me and asking me if I have permission to photograph there, even though this space is built for members of the public. What effect do the boundaries of the city have on the way we use and inhabit it? Is the space really public? Do we have right of way?
The floodlights throughout the city remind me of stage lights, illuminating the space even when the characters are absent.
So exciting to watch the development of Storyhouse, which is due to open in May 2017.
This afternoon, I spent some time looking for the many shapes that make up the city's spaces on a particularly miserable and overcast day in Liverpool. The city's surfaces provide an altered way of viewing the many shapes, forms and structure within the contemporary spaces of the city.
Over the next few years, Chester will be going through a huge re-development phase. It will see a whole area of Chester be knocked down and then re-developed to make room for a new hotel, a department store, a restaurant quarter, shops and apartments. I think it's important as a local photographer to document this area before it is destroyed and re-developed so that in the future, I am able to reflect on the drastic changes made in Chester city centre. The photographs above are taken in the area that is proposed for the re-development scheme, depicting the different spaces that are soon to be abandoned and destroyed.
More Information about the Northgate Development plans can be found here.
Views of the illuminated interior, from the darkened exterior.
An absent presence, left behind by city workers.
After having a little break from the city, I felt the best way to get back into it would be to experiment with shooting the city streets at night. These photographs all feature spaces that surround Chester train station, a busy part of the city with a constant flow of activity.
I love the city, so much so I really wanted to see how different the environment was on Christmas Day. While Christmas dinner was cooking, I had a little walk through the city centre, where I was able to appreciate the city in one of my favourite ways, devoid of any human presence. All the shops, cafes and restaurants are closed and the city is transformed into a ghost town where all you can hear is the Christmas lights tapping together in the wind, and the odd apartment playing Christmas songs. I definitely prefer the city this way.
The old and the new combined, where modern offices are merged with old terraced houses.