Opportunities Radar

Practice Development


Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 08.54.07

Figure 1

Whilst keeping very busy with the installation, I have an eye on future opportunities; whilst this, fig 1, appears to be a commercially based call for work, it has an intriguing theme which may be appropriate for my work in future.

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Figure 2

The timing was imperfect to apply for this role, fig 2, but it is a measure of opportunities that may arise in my local area and of course beyond.  The director of New Arts West Midlands is due to attend my show launch.

Finally, I have a meeting, during my show, with the principal of K4 Architects with whom I had a short residency with a view to picking up a longer relationship.



All accessed 11.6.2018

Venice biennale private call  https://www.itsliquid.com/call-places-surfaces-festival-venice.html

New Arts West Midlands http://newartwestmidlands.co.uk/events/artist-in-residence-university-of-birmingham/

K$ Architects https://www.k4architects.com/




Edgar Martins – Latest

Practice Development : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5


Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 17.47.53Figure 1

Keeping an eye out for the activities of Edgar Martins has become a regular delight as I  appreciate his work and regard him as an influence on my practice.

His Instagram account has recently announced two manifestations of his work. The ‘Poetic Impossibility to manage the Infinite’ is an exhibition in Leicester that I hope to visit.  It reflects Martins’ long-term work with the European Space Agency and his insightful images that capture the wonder and complexity of space flight and exploration, figs 1 and 2.

Quoted in Vice, 2014, Martins describes this current fascination “We are slowly getting a new picture of the universe that is pushing the limits of our understanding of current cosmological theories, making the confluence of the infinitely large and the infinitely small an ever more viable proposition.  I have no doubt that we are entering a new golden era of space exploration. But perhaps the most interesting realisation for me, throughout this process, was coming to terms with two simple ideas. The void and vacuum of space has become the busiest concept known to mankind. And, for all the advancements in technology and robotics, space exploration is still inherently dependent on the individual.”

Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 17.46.10Figure 2

Secondly, with Martin’s relationship with Grain, the Midlands photographic network, images are beginning to emerge from his collaboration, facilitated via Grain, at a sensitive period related to the HM Prison, Birmingham. Little is revealed from this entry, fig 3, but this appears to be a fascinating body of work which I look forward to exploring.

Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 17.44.59Figure 3



Figure 1 screenshot, accessed 27.5.2018 https://www.visitleicester.info/whats-on/the-poetic-impossibility-to-manage-the-infinite-p739301

Figures 2 and 3 from https://www.instagram.com/edgarmartinsphotography/ accessed 27.5.2018

Quote from Vice, 2014, accessed 27.5.2018 https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/mv59bx/edgar-martins-explores-the-limits-of-the-european-space-agency


Ideas come from Ideas

Practice Development : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 07.44.52Figure 1

I work two days a week at an organisation in the centre of Birmingham, here I had a discussion about the future and the plans for the Commonwealth Games, 2022.  In a little under 4 years and much of the world’s eyes will be on the city I have been part of for a long time.  As I am considering as an integral element of my practice light, projection, surfaces and architecture I came up with an idea that has sprung from my projection experiments.  A whole street projection.  The idea being that projectors are mounted within the first floor of buildings along a street and images are projected onto the opposing facades.  This would be installed on both sides of the street.  The images could be historic, abstract, or something else.  I this created a sketch, fig 1, to demonstrate the two streets that I currently judge to be potential candidates as they are historic and thus spatially complete and both lead to the principal square in the city which is likely to be a focal point for the duration of the Games.

Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 07.58.51Figure 2

I held a conversation with a firm in Scrofland called Double Take Projections, (fig 2 shows a still from a demo video) which is intereted in talking about developing up the first stage technical approach and budget.  I was pelased to hear that their primary software tool is Madmapper, as this to the tool I am using.  The intention is to develop this further from a curatorial angle.


Double Take Projections http://doubletakeprojections.com/


Outdoor projection

Practice Development : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

IMG_3342 2Figure 1

Fearing I may run out of time to experiment out of the gallery and write about it, I was compelling myself to simply begin to analyse what it was like working at a scale larger than the compact gallery space or indeed indoors at home – so on a dry evening I gathered the kit and installed outside, fig 2

BB5B48BB-9415-47D8-AF43-DD35DCF062A2Figure 2

I tilted the projector up into chestnut trees in an adjacent garden that are some 20m high and used a moving, psychedelic pattern from YouTube and I was pleased with the intensity of light at some distance and height.

IMG_3334Figure 3

Working closer up, figs 1 and 4 demonstrate the clarity of the light and the shadows created using a pure red colour projection.

IMG_3343 2Figure 4


My premise that you can alter the perception of surface, texture and reconfigure form using lit images, has carried out into a wider realm.  I fully appreciate that these experiments are simplistic and unrefined and others are creating much more ambitious and resolved work, however, I was not using Madmapper to develop the solution (neither was it applying the images from the Pause Project), at this stage and clearly much more can be done, but this is a small step forward.  Much more experimenation will happen beyond the MA.

Final Zine

Practice Development : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 12.10.24Figure 1

The final chapter in the zine account will be its impending arrival.  300 zines to be delivered by Evolution Print, Sheffield, fig 1.  Chosen because of their co-operation to all queries, their willingness to send through a white paper mock up and because they, to quote their Instagram page “We use lots of ink, paper, & big sharp scissors. And still buy books. Often. Shortlisted PDMA Hardback Books & Best Own Marketing Print for My Top Tens” 

Choosing a graphic designer that understands photography, book-making and can bring a working method to a discerning client is critical, I also value the relationship and working knowledge designers have of the printing industry, its attuned firms and the appropriate methods.  In this case, Evolution is litho printing the zine on two paper types, so my expectations are high.

The submitting of the final graphics package was a milestone in its own right.  It represented a close collaboration between Rebecca Foster of the eponymous design company and myself.  Hours of debate and carefully considered and increasingly fine revisions to layout, adjacencies, white line separators, and not, text disposition, front cover choices, spell-checking, map work, paper choices, staple choices and then the correct image sizing and type all melded into the pot labeled zine.

We settled on A5 format with fold-out gatefold as it is portable and will make an impact for the viewer upon opening.  It has a planned life of up to one year as a marketing collateral tool.

I discussed the collaborative nature of this work with my MA tutor, Wendy McMurdo, and we agreed that to create a zine of quality and provide a liaison with printers is relevant and appropriate; clearly all of the imagery and narrative is created by me and the disposition and related matters are framed by the graphic designer.

The deadline was achieved and provided the final risk element is knocked away, that is to say, a bad print run, then all will be well.

These are the screenshots of the final version;

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Rebecca Foster Design http://www.rebeccafosterdesign.co.uk/

Fig 1 from website accessed 27.5.2018 http://www.evolutionprint.co.uk/

Practicing the Words

Practice Development : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

Figures 1, 2

I have been deliberately rehearsing the messages of the Pause Project and the exhibition title Birmingham Dust.  Talking over and over again, at any opportunity has assisted in refining not only the vocabulary of practice, but attunes the mental process too (the reinforcement of repetition).  To be compelling and convincing as a personality seems perhaps as important as the set of edited images themselves to engage people.

As I am a month away from installation, I have had meetings this week with the art blogger (Ruth Millington, fig 1) and also the PR (one-person) firm (Stacey Barnfield, fig 2) I have asked to spend a month promoting the exhibition.  Alongside the zine production, too, the published words become critical to be acute, succinct, punchy and meaningful.

Firstly, the list of buildings;

The Conservatoire

The Roundhouse

Municipal Bank

Edgbaston House

The Clarendon Suite

Madin Studio 123 Hagley Road

Herbert House

Gilder’s Yard

1-4 Great Hampton Street

Christopher Wray Building

Steelhouse Lane Police Station

Junction Works

Here is why they were chosen for my shoots, within the body of work;

All of these buildings were ripe for change and thus became the primary target for negotiation with owners and agents, to enable me to carry out the shoots.  I will often spend 5 to 8 hours in a building to understand its history and purpose and then closely observe its use, often uncovering surprises.

The project formed when I shot Edgbaston House on the Calthorpe Estate, in late 2016 and again in 2017, as I was expecting a series of banal and repetitive spaces over its 20 storeys, but in fact the things left behind were curiously engaging and a real find –  both corporate and personal, from food, to tables, to pictures, signs, computers and a suitcase.  I took delight in the intimacy, the detail, the unexpected – as if stories were emerging or being implied, peoples’ lives, their memories, the simple signs of abandonment.  I use dust as a theme because it evokes the passing of time and neglect – it also shrouds but invites marks and traces of human movement, like fingerprints.  Photography is a kind of imprint; light is shed onto an object then captured onto the camera’s sensor and that moment is caught.  The moment precedes the wrecking ball or the polishing of the new.  So, these memories are made solid when I create concrete tablets that are in the installation at Argentea gallery.  It is as if I make concrete from the dust or crunched up walls.

All twelve of the buildings are within the wider city centre of Birmingham.  I have been living here for 28 years now and I am certain that the sheer pace and volume of change in the city exceeds anything I have seen before.  The routes we take are being altered, familiar forms, structures and buildings are being reconfigured, rearranged.  All this change means we lose the past, so memories can only live in our mental catalogue and of course through images.  We live so much now ‘in the moment’ but we calibrate where we are now with where we were – call it progress, call it growth, call it regeneration, but it is only those descriptors if we know where we have been and what things were like.  Photography serves as a visual stimulus and founds these thoughts.  This is why I make a statement of memoriam via the solidity and tangibility of concrete and, by contrast and counterpoint, the projection of the ephemeral, playing with light, remaking images onto new surfaces.

A little more about my back-story, where the themes interact with the text above;

Being an architect has given me an undeniable view of the world – the materiality, the shapes, the forms and meaning of things.  This has seeped into my image-based work.

Add to that the fascination with Birmingham – the city that has absorbed two-thirds of my life.  Its motto, Forward, provides fertile ground for architects; the liquidating of buildings just one generation old means the shiny new becomes the next wave of excitement.  I intervene with my camera into the paused time before the demolition ball or clean-up moves in.

I have become more reflective; my images indulge that sentiment.  Each building earmarked for change or death, however seemingly ordinary, I have discovered, is imbued with a patina of life, even when the people are long gone.  There are marks, abandoned things, echoes of life.

So, the work is about memory – both the physical and the social – of Birmingham.  Its prominent buildings like the Conservatoire to the ordinary, like shops in the Jewellery Quarter.

The work is not some vast vista documenting facades and huge volumes, it is more about the intimate, the detail, the lost moments, the leftover objects.

The exhibition is an exploration of the dust of time; dust as the sign of passing.  The work divides into three very different media – I have been experimenting with concrete and this has become solid, tangible tablets, like a permanent memorial to the objects that will be gone, forever.  Concrete is that hard material, almost like a remaking from dust.  As a counterpoint, the other media is projection, where I will be creating an opportunity for the gallery visitor to see images in constantly rolling pairs – these are more transient, about light and moments of observation.  So one thing you can touch, the other is fleeting.  The third means for showing is the traditional, high quality, limited edition print, framed and behind glass, to demonstrate that the work is rooted and can be regarded in a conventional sense.


Stacey Barnfield image from, company website, accessed 13.5.2018

Ruth Millington image from Twitter (@ruthmillington) accessed 13.5.2018


Publicity Shoot – Building the Story

Practice Development : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

Vic 3

Figure 1

The breadth of the MA comes into play when, in learning how to write proposals to potential clients, I created a real one for the Birmingham Civic Society (see snap-shot Notes below) early in 2017.  This was a detailed proposal to ‘shoot’ the Victoria statue in the eponymous square at the heart of Birmingham’s civic quarter.  It proposed accessing the work, which is quite elevated, and creating composite images at full scale and exhibiting them in a gallery space as an appreciation of the sculptor’s detail and a more ‘democratic’ a way of seeing that is ordinarily denied.

All went quiet until an invitation to make images from the scaffold that had been erected for a cleaning process, part-funded by the Civic Society, came to me.

I was thus able to spend two hours at three different levels of the scaffold in May 2018, figs 1-6.

As the images could be of local interest I appointed Edwin Ellis Media to create text and link with the communications team at the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery (appointed to oversee the works) and the Civic Society.  The amalgam of the texts was then issued as a press release, fig 7.  Whilst all the copyrighted images were available via a link, the one chosen by the comm’s teams to headline (not my favourite) was used by social media and the Birmingham Post newspaper.

I was pleased with the social media activity, for example, fig 8, there were 9 retweets, 17 likes and 2 comments.

The key here was deliberate mention of the Pause Project and the forthcoming exhibition.  I have always believed that a story builds, it rarely works with only one mention in the media, so the strategy here is to launch the exhibition on the basis of this mention.

I used a photograph of the half-page article in the Birmingham Post, page 11, 10th May 2018 in my social media via Twitter and Instagram.

Figures 2-6

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Figure 7



Figure 8


Figure 9



All images by Philip Singleton

The overview of the proposals made to the Birmingham Civic Society in 2017.

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