New View Arts Workshop

7th, 8th, 14th & 15th August 2019

As planned, I ran a series of workshops for 7-11 year olds with Susie and Fiona from New View Arts at the Sue Bramley Children’s Centre on the Thamesview Estate. We ran four half day sessions for a group of six children (with permission from guardians for photographic and video work), designed to use photography to explore the way in which the area is changing and how the children are responding to these changes. On the first day we listened to accounts by residents who had been moved to the estate in 1954 after the Creekmouth Estate, on the banks of the Thames and the Roding rivers, flooded and was subsequently demolished. We made notes, drew pictures and looked at period photographs, and thought about how we might build an archive that would help to tell the story of the displaced residents, and started to prepare materials and make plans for a visit to Creekmouth at the second workshop.

At Creekmouth, 8th August 2019

In the second workshop we took photographs at Creekmouth, which we printed off for the third workshop. For this workshop we worked on making archive boxes and talked about living in the area and how we might build our own personal archives. For the fourth session the children brought in objects that they wanted to put into their archives, and we made photographs of these, and for the Creekmouth archive. At the end of the session we looked through all the prints and other materials and the children decided what would go into the archive boxes (personal and for Creekmouth) and discussed why. We provided digital cameras for the children at all the sessions, and ran a portable printer so that prints could be made. We also made videos and conducted interviews to feed into a film about Creekmouth to be shown in October at the Centre. I set up a large format and medium format film camera to explore, and provided card frames to experiment with framing before taking photographs. The process of selecting photographs for the archives gave further opportunities to talk about the process of making photographs, and the ways in which we might use photography, and photographs as artefacts, alongside other drawing, painting and making activities.

Curation activity, 15th August 2019

The children really enjoyed the workshops, which provided an opportunity to try out activities (the future workshops will be with older school students and adults). The images produced will feed into the Creekmouth film and the exhibition for the opening of the Men’s Shed being built on site in October, which will explore the changes taking place around the Thames Ward estates and the lives of residents (to which the children and their families will be invited).

Framing, Shed Life, 8th August 2019

Having the equipment on site also meant that activities spilled over into the Shed Life sessions, generating more interest in making photography a core activity in the shed, and as a tool in the development of the Shed and documentation of the construction process. Interestingly, there was a good deal of interest in film photography among the group, and a some expertise and prior experience with film.

Camerawork, Shed Life, 15th August 2019

More to follow in the next update on project plans. The experience has demonstrated that the plan for a number of micro-projects with pop-up exhibitions, and a subsequent collective output, is feasible. Having the help of the young volunteers was invaluable in keeping the activities moving, and it would be good to think about involving them more actively in documenting the workshops in the future.

Landings 2019

For the Landings 2019 exhibition, I decided to reacquaint myself with Portfoliobox, and draw on work done towards the end of the previous module to produce an online gallery comprising of composite images and animations. The resulting gallery is here. The design challenge was to present the three related series of work (each comprising of four images plus an animation) in a way that demonstrated that the they related in form, but distinct in content. I have also restructured the site and uploaded other series of work done over the course of the MA. My intention is to use this site as the principal showcase for my MA related work, and then either re-design the site or move to another platform at the end of the programme.

Getting on (Week 9 Reflection)

I’ve spent the past week making plans for workshops and photographic work relating to my FMP, as well as spending 5 days (Thursday to Monday) in Arles for Rencontres 2019 and the Falmouth face to face (see individual posts on this, including the portfolio review). Getting the WIP portfolio together has been pressing, so I have decided to work on the photobook activity alongside making images for the portfolio. Whilst the portfolio will ultimately not be in book form, working on the activity has been productive. The process has been iterative, in that the portfolio review in Arles provided me with the motivation to return to the channel mixing work, and reviewing, and working from, the images that I have made over the past month in Ilford and Barking has clarified the need for additional images to work with, and helped me to identify the kinds of image I need for the work (in particular, images that show everyday activity in the areas I am focusing on). The portfolio review, and engaging with the exhibitions in Arles, has also helped me to think through how I will display the channel mixing work, and what kind of contextualising narrative I will give. Whilst it will not contribute to the submission of work for this module, I will work further on the printing of my work, and explore the use of LCD panels and projection. Moving between analogue and digital in both the production and display of the work is leading me to see this work as being ‘post-digital’ (as defined by Alessandro Ludovico, 2012; see also Cubitt, et al, 2015, on the affordances of analogue and digital photography and the relationship of the transition of one to the other to wider social, economic and cultural change).

I produced a booklet for the publications activity, based on the images I am working on for my WIP portfolio. Feedback from previous work indicated that some viewers want to see the original images used in the composites, whilst others felt that this would detract from the work by making it look too much like a technical/didactic activity (the same could be said of the animations created from different iterations of the composites from the same three images, which I have not included in the most recent work: I have also not made any of the more graphic iterations). To address this, I have created a grid of the original images for the sequence of eight images that I am currently working on (see below), and for each composite image, I have created an ‘image code’ by removing the three constituent images for each composite.

Constituent image grid for ‘Neuropolis’ series

The first version of the book included that large grid, but feedback indicated that this took away some of the challenge of the work, so I removed it. To contextualise the work, I have drawn on the notion of the Neuropolis, explored by Fitzgerald et al (2018). This relates mental well-being to the relationship between human activity and the urban built and natural environment, an important strand in my work. Given that the work has to represent a particular point in time in the development of my practice, I have simplified the focus, and the quotes provided, I hope, say enough about the key themes in the work to make them accessible.

Initial draft of ‘Neuropolis’ booklet

In the initial draft of the booklet, the ‘codes’ were in colour and their position changed with each image. I did this to vary the rhythm of the sequence, but feedback indicated that this was distracting, and that having everything in black and white would achieve a more consistent visual style, and consistent positioning might be less distracting. I changed these for the final iteration.

Final draft of ‘Neuropolis’ booklet

The booklet is designed for Japanese three hole stab binding.

Japanese three hole stab binding


Cubitt, S., Palmer, D. and Walkling, L. (2015) ‘Enumerating photography from spot meter to CCD’, Theory, Culture & Society, 32(7–8), pp. 245–265.

Ludovico, A. 2012. Post-Digital Print: The Mutation of Publishing since 1894. Eindhoven: Onomatopee.
Online at,Alessandro-_Post-Digital_Print._The_Mutation_of_Publishing_Since_1894.pdf [accessed 01.08.19].

Workshops and helping others (Week 8 Reflection)

Anticipating the workshop activity for this module, and knowing that (i) it would fall at a time when postgraduate and undergraduate students are on vacation and (ii) that this would be a particularly busy period in terms of travel and other activities, I arranged to do some workshops earlier in the year. I have also been able to plan workshops with children and adults over the next three months, and these will be central to my work on the FMP.

For the MA Urban Planning students at the UCL Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU), I conducted a 3 hour workshop on using photography in the exploration of the impact of urban regeneration on residents, and followed this up with accompanying two groups on their fieldwork (one to explore spaces for women at the Feminist Library and the other to explore the impact of housing development in the Thames Ward in Barking).

At the workshop I presented different ways that photographers have engaged with urban development and examples of my own work. The workshop included group activities (I asked people to bring 5 images that gave a sense of the area in which they lived to discuss, and we did some planning on how the students might use photography in their own projects). The presentation for the session is below.

BASc Object Lessons group at the Grant Museum

For the UCL Bachelor of Arts and Sciences (BASc) module Object Lessons, I contributed to workshops on engagement with objects and artefacts from museums, galleries and special collections, worked with students on making photographs of the objects they were working with, and participated in the assessment of student group presentations (on the creation of an online themed exhibition).

For my project, I have been running informal workshops with community and activist groups on working with and making images. Over the past few weeks, I have been giving small cheap digital cameras to people to use to take photographs of the area they live and how it is changing, and then working with them on the images (one person took 400 pictures in two days). I will be running a four day workshop for 7 to 11 year olds over the coming two weeks as part of a community centre summer programme on a local estate, and in September I’ll be starting a series of workshops in two schools, exploring the lived experiences of school students, how the area is changing and their hopes and aspirations.

Formal and informal feedback has been good. Running workshops has helped me to scrutinise and develop my own practice, as well as giving insights into the experiences and perspectives of the groups I am working with. It has been particularly insightful to teach/learn in a range of formal and informal settings, and with groups of different age and different experiences. As with most teaching, I’ve probably learnt more than the people I’ve been teaching.

For my project, I am thinking about how the images made by participants in these workshops will feature in the outcomes of the project, and the ethical and attribution issues that this raises.

Publication (Week 7 Reflection)

In his interview with Ben Smith, Simon Norfolk (2019) is pretty forthright in expressing his opinion that the majority of what is produced in book form by photographers amounts to nothing more than vanity publishing. The book becomes an end in itself, without consideration of the readership/audience. Far from democratising art, by bypassing the gallery and patronage system, he sees the current interest in the production of books by photographers as reinforcing the elitist consumption (and collection) of photographic work. Whilst he makes an important point, he is taking a fairly narrow view of both the form and function of books, and how these are used by photographers and other artists (he is also forthright about his opinion that photographers are not artists, on the basis of a vary narrow conception of art). As Lukas Birk illustrated in his guest lecture this week, whilst established publishers do have a certain caché, self-publishing with a clear purpose, and oriented to a well defined readership, can be highly productive, and enable photographers to reach new audiences for their work. Birk produces a range of forms of work (from high volume and cheap bookshop for a south-east Asian market, to limited run artists books), each with a tightly defined sense of audience. Birk is also highly adept as supplementing published work with other forms of dissemination (for instance, the website for the Afghan Box Camera project). This sophisticated combination of print, online and exhibition/installation forms of dissemination is increasingly characteristic of the practice of successful contemporary photographers (for instance, see the work of Susan Meiselas, who has a very sophisticated website which catalogues the phases of her work and relates this to other forms of output, such as publications and exhibitions, including artefacts, texts and other contextualising material).

In my own project, I am not aiming for publication in book form of the work in and for itself (ie, as a self-published photobook or through an established publisher). There will, however, be print outputs from each of the constituent projects. At the moment, I am thinking of these as zine type publications which present the work of the participants alongside our collaborative work and my own work in the contexts we are exploring together. These can be combined to present the outcomes of the project as a whole, for instance by compiling the zines into a single publication, or by putting them together in a slipcase or envelope (designed to represent the overall themes of the project). As the project will also involve collection and use of a wide range of other material (for instance, developer plans and archive material relating to the areas), I was also intending to produce some form of resource pack/box, or perhaps (less didactically) and form of portable archive that could be used to explore the issues raised, reconfigure material collected and generated and provoke new activity (see earlier post about archives and refugee experience). Exploring different forms of publication this week has made me think about a form of artist book as an alternative. Having learned a range of book binding techniques at the London Centre for Book Arts (see post here), I have looked at the work of artists who have used similar techniques to present their work.

In Permission To Belong, Tammy Law uses a Solander Box as a container for exposed spine books which, in addition to photographs, contain letters, maps and other materials relating to the theme of migration, home and belonging from the perspective of families from Burma. Some of the material is bound into the book, and some is inserted (for instance, maps and large folded sheets of images).

Here the artist’s book is being seen as an object, and both an outcome of a project and a resource for exploration by the reader. Even more elaborate, with ornate binding and a wide range of inserts and multi-part pages, is Ryo Kusumoto’s 連師子/Renjishi, which takes the form of a multi-section exposed spine book.

Both these books use techniques that I have learned, and could use to produce low volume work at the end of the project. A good source of inspiration is the Dummy Book Awards at the Kassel FotoBookFestival.

It is also important, at this point, to return to earlier consideration of the political dimensions of self-publishing (explored in this post), and the argument put forward by Thoburn (2016) in Anti-Book: On the Art and Politics of Radical Publishing.


Norfolk, S. 2019. Simon Norfolk interviewed by Ben Smith, A Small Voice Podcast, 107, online at [accessed 22.07.19].

Thoburn, N (2016). Anti-Book: On the Art and Politics of Radical Publishing. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Making books

So far I have done three workshops at the London Centre for Book Arts, and have learned to make a Solander Box (which I have been using as a portfolio case) and most recently a single section case bound book and two styles of multi-section open spine books (see LCBA, 2017; Orriss, 2014; Abbott, 2010). Elsewhere, I have produced Japanese four-hole stab bound book (Yotsume-toji). Whilst doing this, I’ve given thought to how I might integrate making books into my practice.

For the ‘micro-projects’ in my FMP, I plan to produce simple zine type publications based on the work produced by participants. The design of this and the production of a dummy could be one of the activities for the final session (in which we will also plan and produce work for the pop-up exhibition). These will probably be in the form of a simple stapled pamphlet, a concertina or folded booklet or loose images held together in some way or in an envelope/folder.

From the start, I have been committed to producing artefacts from the work, so one option would be a limited run artist’s book, along the lines, perhaps, of Ryo Kusumoto’s (2018) (連師子/Renjishi, which uses a number of the techniques that I’ve learned at the workshops.

A major challenge is the choice of paper and being able to print on both sides (essential for books based on sections), which limits choice of paper stock. One option is to use drum leaf binding, which uses individual sheets of paper. An alternative, which I used for the stab bound book, is to use thinner paper and fold this, as shown below.

I’m not yet convinced of the potential of this; it may be that the process, form and content of the project requires something more flexible (like an archive of material that can be configured in different ways.


Abbott, K. 2010. Bookbinding: A step-by-step guide. Marlborough: The Crowood Press.

Kusumoto, R. 2018. (連師子/Renjishi. Tokyo: Reminders Photography Stronghold.

LCBA, 2017. Making Books: A guide to making hand-crafted books. London: Pavillion.

Orriss, L. 2014. Craft Bookbinding. Marlborough: The Crowood Press.

Exhibition modes and spaces (Week 6 Reflection)

My project is fundamentally place-based and participatory, so it makes sense that the presentation of the outcomes relates closely to the context in which the work is produced, is accessible to local people and encourages active engagement with the work and the issues being explored. The final project is composed of a number of smaller projects exploring change in particular places with different age groups. Each of these small projects will culminate with a pop-up exhibition in, or close to, the place that we have been working (for instance, in the school or community centre where the workshops were held). As well as these ‘local’ exhibitions, material from all the projects will be brought together in a final ‘joint’ exhibition. I have a number of places in mind for this exhibition, which will be accessible to the participants in the projects (including the local theatre, local FE college, a hotel threatened with demolition, a community centre, and a disused power station) – the form taken by that exhibition, as with the pop-up exhibitions, will depend on the characteristics of the space.

From the early stages of the project, I have been committed to a ‘multi-modal’ form of exhibition, which includes artefacts, texts and sound, as well as photographs (which can also be treated as artefacts). In the previous module I explored the use of animations and in this module I am experimenting with projection. The tpg new talent 19 exhibition at The Photographers Gallery illustrates a number of the ways in which contemporary photographers are exploring different modes and materials, and ways of juxtaposing elements of their work. These works do not meet the criteria that Bishop (2005) provides for ‘installation art’ (in the most part, they are not immersive, theatrical or experiential), but nor are they clearly ‘installation of art’ (as the individual pieces do not assume a greater significance than the whole). My sense is that new, and more complex, meaning potential is produced through the juxtaposition of images and other elements, and through the exploration of different surfaces.

Seungwon Jung, The Photographers Gallery, 2019

Seungwon Jung, for instance, prints photographs on fabric and then shapes and pick away strands from this, producing three dimensional works. As with my own work, she is interested in the exploration of notions of space and time (and memory and oblivion), and does this through the overlaying of images (on fabric) in ways in which layers interact with, but do not destroy, each other.

Rhiannon Adam, The Photographers Gallery, 2019

Rhiannon Adam‘s exploration of life on the Pitcairn Islands uses a range of forms of photography (including the use of expired Polaroid stock) and presents images alongside texts (including notes, documents and letters) in a single plane. Alberto Feijóo combines photography with collage, book design and model making, bringing objects that have been used in the production of the images into the gallery, and giving the process of making equal, or greater, status to the images produced in a three dimensional exhibition. Giovanna Petrocchi draws on images from online museum collections and combines these with personal photographs and 3D printed artefacts, moving between an imaginary past (as represented in museum artefacts) and an imagined future (in the creation of future artefacts), and using traditional and digital production processes. The other artists similarly combine modes in a variety of ways.

Alberto Feijóo, The Photographers Gallery, 2019
Giovanna Petrocchi , The Photographers Gallery, 2019

Key considerations for my project are how visible to make the process for production of the work, and what balance to be achieved between different elements of the work (for instance, contextual material about the area, work produced by participants, collaborative work and my own work). A 3D component is also worth consideration, not just in the use of artefacts and the arrangement of work, but also, perhaps, in some form of model making (using, for instance, folded card, drawing on Paul Jacksons’ (2014) cut and fold techniques), subverting the use of models by developers.


Bishop, C. (2005). Installation Art: a critical history. London: Tate.
Jackson, P. (2014). Cut and Fold Techniques for Pop-Up Designs. London: Laurence King Publishing.

Video interviews

Rhiannon Adam, [accessed 12.07.19]
Alberto Feijóo, [accessed 12.07.19]
Seungwon Jung, [accessed 12.07.19]
Giovanna Petrocchi, [accessed 12.07.19]

Surfaces (Week 5 Reflection)

This week provided the space to plan and map out activities for the remaining weeks of this module and relate this work to the development of the FMP. An outline of activities is given as a roadmap here. In terms of methodology, it has provided the opportunity to relate the exploration of different image making strategies in the first part of the module to forthcoming exploration of modes of presentation of work and engagement of audience, and consider how this relates to conceptual and theoretical development. The aim is to achieve a degree of coherence and consistency between these dimensions of practice: each must inform the other. Over this week, the major development in this respect is coming to view this as an iterative process, and then attempting to mirror this process in the way that I work with participants in the project. In terms of methodology, this has led to a more detailed mapping out of process of working with different groups, which can lead to variation in the focus of the work with each group and different forms of output at the end of the process. This is reflected in the sequence of workshops planned from each group (sketched out here). What provides coherence is an underlying conceptual framework and a broad focus on the exploration of the exploration of the experience of change in the social, cultural, built and natural environment brought about by regeneration projects. I’ll explore specific aspects of this in posts over the coming weeks. In terms of photography over the next few weeks, I want to test out elements of the process, which will entail both technical and aesthetic challenges.

Deepwater @ theprintspace, July 2019

I also had the opportunity to visit the Deepwater exhibition (graduation show for the Falmouth MA Photography programme, held at therprintspace Gallery in Spitalfields), which was useful in seeing how my project work (one image) will appear in relation to other work from the degree programme.

Roadmap for Weeks 5 to 11

Title: re.generation

An inter-generational collaborative exploration of community engagement with urban regeneration and responses to local changes in the built and natural environment.

Keywords: urban, regeneration, heritage, environment, community, interdisciplinary, collaborative.

Methods/methodology: collaborative image making to build a collective understanding of individual and community experience of regeneration through visual exploration and expression; participant image making and assisted portraits; collection and analysis of narratives, documents and artefacts.

Preliminary work (Week Five). Workshop with Lewis Bush on investigative techniques, background research on current regeneration projects in Barking and Dagenham, meeting with Barking and Dagenham Heritage Preservation Group (BDHPG), arrangements for image making and anticipated form and presentation of outcomes.

Week 6: Bookbinding workshop 1 at London Centre for Book Arts. Archive work at Valence House (historic images of town centre and riverside areas). Collection of planning documents and developer literature. Image making at Thames Ward Community Project (TWCP) residents summit, and making contacts for subsequent work. Meetings with the headteachers of schools involved to arrange project work in September.

Week 7: Bookbinding workshop 2 at London Centre for Book Arts. Set up participant image making activity with BDHPG. Preliminary portrait work. Printing of work for Arles.

Week 8: Arles meet up and portfolio review. Review of BDHPG participant images and identification of places for rephotographing. Portraits made. Narratives discussed. Response to feedback received.

Week 9: Bookbinding workshop 3 at London Centre for Book Arts. Re- photography done. Composites made and discussed with participants.

Week 10: Selection and printing of images. Design of booklet/archive. Design of exhibition/installation

Week 11: Production of booklet/archive dummy. Production of installation/exhibition material.

Outcomes. Participants images relating to redevelopment of the area, how this relates to their lived experience and how it relates to their aspirations. Assisted portraits of participants. Composites from rephotographs and archive photographs. Accompanying participant narratives, documents and images. Book dummy and installation (or online presentation). Explore possible pop-up exhibition in the Barking Hotel (threatened with demolition in the redevelopment of the town centre).

Relationship with FMP. This will act as preliminary for work my FMP as described in research proposal and updated in my CRJ. The work will be extended by subsequent work in schools and other community groups. The work done in this module will enable my approach to be tested.

Strategies of freedom (Week 4 Reflection)

It’s been a busy week, with the collaborative zine activity to complete and the 24 hour ‘Hands Off!’ activity. Plus exhibitions in Sydney, 30 hours in the air crossing continents, and guest lectures and webinars. The feedback I have received on my work and plans for the FMP have been reassuring, and I feel confident that I am well prepared for that (as long as I can get all the preliminary work done in the next two weeks, which will be tricky with a book manuscript to deliver, and an introduction to write, in 10 days time). There are also sensitive political issues to address. My major concern is determining the focus for my WIP portfolio for this module, and this will be the focus for my one-to-one tutorial with Cemre on Monday.

Anthony Luvera’s presentation was insightful. Luvera sees his work as a direct descendant of the participatory and critical photography of the Camerawork/Half Moon/Cockpit era (I knew Jo Spence, did my darkroom work at Camerawork and worked for many years with the Director of the Cockpit from that period, so know this work, and its political context and orientation, well). He places equal emphasis on the process of production and the outcomes. His presentation raised interesting issues about the ethics of participatory photography (especially in relation to the regulation of social research, and differences in ethical expectations, for instance in managing risks to the participants), and about authorship (on which he was resolute about the importance of including appropriate attribution to artist in co-authored work, for instance, assisted portraits). Having moved from using photography as an educator, both in classrooms and in the training of teachers, to placing greater emphasis on my own work as a photographer/artist, it was good to be able to position my previous work and my current practice in relation to what Luvera and others are doing. The question of authorship and attribution wasn’t quite resolved for me, and I have to think more about how I attribute work appropriately in the FMP project.

Through his journal ‘Photography for Whom‘ he intends to make visible some of the cultural history of participatory photography; it might be productive to submit a paper which explores the relationship between the fields of photography and education in the development of this work, and the impact of the different forms of institutionalisation of practice, and careers, between these fields. The point he raised about the impersonal nature of the literature and other material available to the providers and recipients of social care, and the inaccessibility of these services, is very important, and his project ‘Frequently Asked Questions‘ is an imaginative, critical and effective way of addressing this.

The zine activity was interesting, and reinforced the importance of clear communication, sense of direction and responsibility in any collaborative project. The resulting zine is successful, in the sense that the images and intent are interesting and consistent, and the final online booklet works well. The activity does, for me, raise questions about the extent to which the spirit of the zine (cheap, lo-fi, accessible, counter-cultural, from and for the community etc) has been lost, or diluted, and the distinction between the zine and the photo-book eroded (again, worth re-visiting Simon Norfolk’s (2019) view of photo-books as indulgent vanity). The final booklet can be found here.

The reflection brief asks for statements about personal practice and methodology, which I think I have addressed elsewhere. In terms of moving my project forward, the next couple of weeks will involve getting approval and making arrangements with key stakeholders, and refining the form the activities will take and working towards achieving the practical competence required (for instance, in the use of the 5×4 in the field, and processing in ecologically low impact ways).

Looking at Luvera’s current working practices has also encouraged me to look at tethering in making assisted portraits. The 24hr activity has opened up two other forms of image that could be used in my FMP (Google satellite images and electronic microscope images). The workshop with Lewis Bush on Saturday should also help me work through what kind of documents and other data I should include in presentation of the FMP (and in the process).


Norfolk, S. 2019. Interviewed by Ben Smith. A Small Voice [podcast], 107, 12th June 2019.