Work in Progress Portfolio

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects.  Submission.

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From six shoots undertaken during the sustainable prospects module I have selected 18 images to submit as my work in progress portfolio.

The Pause Project is in full flow, currently in Birmingham; five new buildings in the pause state have been accessed, along with the underbelly of M6 junction 6, that is Spaghetti Junction and the gallery in Walsall.


Images 1 – 7

Reviewing this group, these collectively reflect not only a maturing of a consistent ‘visual language’ but also the period which most were created, as Autumn approached and, in the case of The Roundhouse, captured in the melancholic state and deep light from the sun onto and into spaces.

As is consistent with the Pause Project to date, the spaces were vacant, life was absent but the humanity was demonstrable in the perambulations, ruthlessly so within image 4 where only the trace of a multi-level stair case and landings remained as they had been removed, leaving the visible marks on the walls in what is a disconcerting view.  Abandoned chairs feature in image 1 and 17, perhaps not seen as precious and thus abandoned, they serve to provide scale to those two spaces.


Images 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 17, 18

Of the many quotes on light in photography “Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography” attributed to George Eastman, was on my mind in these shoots. The first seven images, in diverse ways, visually identify the source of light into the spaces and through the translucent panels, the latter group reflect light. All the images reveal the use of ‘found’ light, there is no supplementary lighting.  The image that has drawn more time from me is image 2, the Roundhouse window; this is the most ‘painterly’ in the group; I use this term as I believe this is the nearest image I have made to date that dwells on the cusp of the immediate ‘surface’ manifesting the image as if looking ‘at’ a painted asset.  It is its apparent translucency that reveals an actual or implied depth, seeing ‘though’ to a faint but bright, almost spectral form, or series of shapes.  It is this translucency that one adopts in viewing that evokes the nature of a photograph.


Images   11, 14, 15, 16

My amplified interest in concrete as a medium to form space but also as a method of fused image making is contemplated in this portfolio by the intimate quality of the surface, countered by the enormity of structure in images 11, 14, 15 and 16.

It is the surprising, the unpredictability of visual stimulus and the emotive response one holds when visiting much planned and anticipated shoots.  There has been a sharp variability in this autumn’s shoots, with the Roundhouse laying before me a plethora of textures, detritus, views and depth whereas the negotiated access to John Madin’s own office and studio, 123 Hagley Road, was little more than vacuous with a simplicity of, well almost everything, even uncovering a vacated radio station studio did not create the richness in practice that one may anticipate.  This in part explains that the Roundhouse holds the majority of this portfolio than other shoots.

The submitted package includes the index slide, thus;

Image Titles – shoots August to November 2017

Intro slide 1

Intro slide 2

1 Roundhouse – chair

2 Roundhouse – window

3 Herbert House – main space

4 Herbert House – stair trace

5 Roundhouse – mirror

6 Herbert House – window

7 Herbert House – roof light

8 Herbert House – basement

9 Roundhouse – carpet

10 Roundhouse – socket

11 M6 Junction 6 – concrete surface

12 Roundhouse – ember

13 Gilders Yard – sink

14 New Art Gallery Walsall – stair

15 M6 Junction 6 – soffit

16 M6 Junction 6 – pipe

17 123 Hagley Road – chair

18 Gilders Yard – 3 spaces

Concluding slide


An Impromptu Shoot

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects. 


I was able to access the vacated Coventry Evening Telegraph building days before the city was celebrating its new status as City of Culture 2021.  I was armed only with my iPhone as I was in the city for my portfolio reviews

The building was both cavernous and intimate and the perfect candidate for a more serious and planned Pause Project shoot, but the quality of the iPhone justifies the entry of these images here; it forms a recce for a future idea. No flash lighting was used, all light was ‘found’ as is my normal mode.

All images are mine.

Portfolio Review : Practice Development

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects.  Week 11.  


figure 1

It was with eager anticipation that I attended the Grain Portfolio Development day at Herbert Art Gallery in Coventry on 2nd December 2017, facilitated by Grain Photo Hub.

This was to be my third portfolio review session (beyond my university critiques); this time around I was more prepared and anticipated it, with a good presentation and attentive ears.

The day was launched with talks from all four of the portfolio reviewers; Camilla Brown, curator, writer and lecturer on contemporary art and previously curator at The Photographers’ Gallery, London, Anthony Luvera, artist, photographer, writer and educator, Craig Ashley, Curator and Director of New Art West Midlands and Liz Hingley, photographer and anthropologist.

In summary, we were advised to prepare well, show up to 20 images and up to three projects/bodies of work.  It is a time limited session and is a negotiated transaction; expect to be concise but clear about the premise for one’s work and then allow time and space for the reviewed to pick up the work, shuffle it round and corral a response.  We should regard our portfolios as fluid objects that reflect our artistic voice that will develop and evolve with time and after reflection.  To connect with reviewers we were advised to research your reviewers and make a choice about who you see were there are options in order to extract as much useful critique as possible.  Inevitably exposure requires composure and when the work is strong and compelling it may, after time, be networked into other realms of the photography world via the reviewers. 

As I have found before, preparation for conflicting, curious, incisive, searching and sometimes upsetting advice; this isn’t an ego smoothing exercise, it is meant to cajole, provoke and make one fervent for betterment.

Every speaker advised that we should leave a post card or a sheet to be taken away, to linger with the reviewers; proving the point, Luvera left as all with copies of his community art work newspaper, ‘Not Going Shopping’.

Brown posited reviews will increasingly be on-line in the future; somewhat appropriate when the Flexible MA at Falmouth University is considered and its working methods.  Both Luvera and Hingley found that their practice took notable leaps forward after portfolio reviews by people who were either directly influential or were connected with people who were looking to commission, hang or publish work.  Source Magazine was mentioned numerous times in this context.

Curators were referenced on three occasions and Luvera noted that they can help connect with the artist but also provide a new editing eye that may link with a new narration of one’s work.  He also stated that the audience for your work should be borne in mind when presenting, i.e. the anticipated viewers and the context.

Craig Ashley, as a curator, facilitator and writer is an experienced witness of audiences across the UK Midlands has interfaced with many artists including photographic artists over many years, including the Peter Kennard exhibition at MAC Birmingham in 2016 which I had especially admired for its layering of imagery and its powerful messaging.  He quoted Maria Balshaw (whom I was fortunate to briefly worked with in Birmingham)  made succinct points about curating see figure 2.


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Ashley cited Jon Tonks book Empire that sat alongside a body of visual work and maps and, with Ashley, an holistic show was created from this breadth of collateral. 

Hingley spoke about her body of work, Under Gods, 2007-09 (also a published photobook) and the influences of Martin Parr and asking Richard Billingham to review here work. She reminded us to maintain momentum around applying for awards and completions to keep up the chances of being seen and awarded.  As a result of this she was asked to create the Shanghai version of the ‘Portraits de Villes’.

The Reviews

I was rather pleased that, whilst one could choose two of the four available reviewers, I was offered an additional slot with a third.  In summary all three were distinct and highly useful for my moment of evolution with my work.

Craig Ashley

Following an introduction to the premise for the Pause Project and the selected 10 images in my portfolio box we spoke about;

Referencing James Webb at Coventry Cathedral who is using audio from the Dean’s broadcast when the cathedral was bombed in 1940 as a memoriam related to my anticipated multi media final MA show.

On discussing the venue for my final show Ashley cited Jan Svoboda (1934-1990) who, upon subsequent research (see footnote below),  I note created unique pieces, in response to my thinking about unique, concrete based imagery.

We discussed materiality, texture, environment, scale, light and print finish that would help inform the characteristics of my final installation.

Footnotes on Jan Svoboda:

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Jan Svoboda was interviewed with Liba Taylor for British Journal of Photography 1982 – an archive I will endeavour to uncover.

From these links I note Svoboda was constantly endeavouring to create unique images using substrates; my concrete work has the same objective.

From  accessed 3.12.2017, I embolden the pertinent points here;

“In an effort to achieve maximum degree of autonomy of the photographic image, Svoboda, thanks to fundamental and original formal innovation, reached the very limits of the possible. Due to their sophisticated techniques, his works entirely shook off the principle of being reproduceable and thus became (paradoxically for photography) unique works of art. Their solitary nature was emphasised, Svoboda being unaccustomed in those days to large formats, by a total absence of framing, the use of a solid foundation with a supporting framework, of detaching the works from the surface of the wall. Photographs are thus elevated to the rank of objects that communicate independently with both the exibition space and the atmosphere of the lighting”.

From accessed 3.12.2017 – here he notably exhibited with a sculptor and an artist – demonstrating his mix of company; “Jan Svoboda was more inclined to the company of artists, as it was called his time, than photographers. Although the marginal, yet distinctive detail remains that he likes to sign directly into the picture. However, Jaromír Zemina provided the exhibition with the May group (1964) when he introduced his works together with the statues of Jiří Seifert and the drawings of Václav Boštík in the exhibition O světlu (1994)”.

Liz Hingley

After viewing the images and talking about the body of work and its direction towards an installation and potentially a photobook,  Liz spoke about links to people in Birmingham that she is presently working with (for example Claire Mullett – accessed 3.12.2017)  and talked about scanning items that I have quietly liberated from some of my shoots and also the possibility of creating wallpaper from my images.

We talked about ‘feeling the atmosphere’ in the space where my final show would be hosted – to emulate the conveyance in my prints and images.  This echoed the discussion with Ashley.

Camilla Brown

Camilla Brown appeared enthralled by one image in particular and this delighted me because I too had highlighted it as the key piece in my work in progress portfolio, a painterly piece from the Round House and its window. 

I used the word ‘documenting’ as one descriptor for my work  but Brown queried this and felt that the work was more “evoking curiosity” and takes you to a “different place” than perhaps a pure catalogued documenting process may lead to.  We discussed Edgar Martins and his ‘Soliloquies on Death, Life and Other Interludes’ and the degree of translation and selection that even then demurred from the original order of the source, thus not wholly documented and indeed manipulated digitally.  My response was to say I was perhaps then a “visually led art image maker” – though I think this still requires distillation.

Brown directed me to John Divola and Lucio Fontana.  See figure 4 for Divola’s work in abandoned spaces.

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figure 4

Brown predicted that my Pause Project would develop sub-series and new threads as it moved forward.

I mentioned that I had planned to create a zine for distribution to developers and landowners to gather more shooting opportunities in the New Year – she extremely usefully suggested that I sought out cities that would be hosting future photographic festivals such as Brighton, Liverpool and Derby for the strategic exhibiting approach this may provide.

Finally Brown suggested a textual response to my work that is “fluid and creative” – I explained that I enjoyed writing about photography.  Haiku was mentioned as a potential pattern as was Rinko Kawauchi for her work.


Camilla Brown

Anthony Luvera

Liz Hingley

Craig Ashley


Cited by Craig Ashley

Jon Tonks,


Cited by Liz Hingley

Portraits de Ville,


Cited by Camilla Brown

Negative Space : Practice Development

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects.


Figure 1

My attention was drawn for the first time to Rachel Whiteread’s work (figure 1) in 1993 when she won the Turner prize and her project ‘House’ was publicised at the same time.

Whilst at a seminar at Tate Britain in November, I was able to pop into the outer room of the retrospective of Whiteread’s oeuvre and buy the book on Whiteread by Charlotte Mullins (2017).


Figure 2

Her mid career work, made in vacated spaces acts as an inverse of the volume that was created by enclosure. This was a significant development for Whiteread as previously she had worked at the scale of object such as hot water bottle, bed and wardrobe.  The project “Ghost’ (1990) scaled up to a whole room (figure 2), with sections cast in plaster with great care then reassembled in a gallery space, it now resides in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.  In the chapter entitled ‘Traces of Life’ Mullins notes that Whiteread wanted to “mummify the air in the room” (pp 23) and goes on describing the work as “entombing the social space in which lives were once lived out.  Visual Reminders of those lights remain that the ashes in the fireplace, the chips in the skirting boards, the fragments of paint that had been absorbed into the plaster as it dried. But life itself was absent. The work is a spectral negative, and of the image of the room but no longer exists, a record that I’ve been bleached the colour like an old photograph left out in the light” (pp23).  It is as if Whiteread was creating a metaphor for space, making the viewer reassess the content and the container; an inversion of the norm.


Figure 3

The sculpture ‘House’ in Grove Road, Bow, East London was completed in October 1993 (figure 3) and demolished in January 1994.  It was a the cast of a whole house (except the attic and roof) using concrete as this was to be Whiteread’s first outdoor sculpture.  All of the original exterior was then dismantled piece by piece, all by hand, what remained was a unique and spellbinding ‘mausoleum’ to a 100 years of history played out in spaces now fused into an apparently singular concrete construct.  Mullins writes “House exists only in photographs, drawings and the fragments that Whiteread collected from the ruins. But it also exists in the memories of all who saw or read about it – perhaps the most appropriate site for the silent monument to lost conversations and past lives”. (pp56).

Practice Development

This has been a useful and appropriate reveal to my thinking as I look at archive photographs and my own capture of lost spaces and places but especially the marks, traces and memories of use, activity and the implied life of conversations in offices, stables, worship spaces and learning institutions.  And then of course the idea of recasting in plaster and concrete has a conceptual link to my own thinking in terms of fusing and solidifying images onto concrete plates and creating a volume or defined form from the constituent installation.  It has provoked thoughts of inner space and outer space in my mind – I will need to bring clarity to the surfaces and projections but also the concept for any form I craft.

Camilla Brown has subsequently referenced Whiteread’s work when reviewing my portfolio.


Mullins C. (2017) Rachel Whiteread. Tate Gallery Publishing Ltd.  London

Photography : Fine Art : The gallery Owner’s View

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects.  Week 10

I compiled notes during the recorded interview (figure 1) between Ann-Marie Pfab and Francesca Genovese, owner at Francesca Maffeo Gallery, Leigh on Sea, as it is pertinent to my ambition to be exhibited and build relationships with galleries in the longer term.

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The Francesca Maffeo Gallery is multi-faceted, it has, since opening in 2016, held 8 exhibitions, represents 17 artists and retails books.

Keeping in Touch and Working Methods

Naturally Francesca received numerous approaches from artists but advises that she keeps an eager eye out for artists in exhibition elsewhere, in the media, graduate shows and completion entries and results.  As is the message across the industry, it is personal contact and meetings around work and portfolios that helps cement the possibility of an on-going relationship.

Francesca welcomes email contact, rather than the chill of a cold call into the gallery, provided any email is crafted as a personal and informed note and with a PDF and artist’s statement attached, as she saves these into a folder for later perusal.  Website links work in her view too, as long these show a well organised width of work with a good degree of depth too.  The gallery will occasionally keep a note of artists to work with in the future for thematic shows. 

Francesca acknowledges that, almost without exception, photographic artists sustain their art practice via commercial work or roles outside the field.  She cites Spencer Murphy, Laura Pannack and David Chancellor who all balance commercial roles with art output, though notably these often cross-fertile with one product informing the other.  She also cites grants and awards to sustain projects.

Pricing and Editioning

Francesca advises that the ‘back catalogue’ of work may have individual pieces and projects within the overall body of work with an established editioning method which need to be maintained.  New projects can be guided to increase or decrease editions depending on the market and the individual artist’s views alongside that of the gallery.  She has artists working between 1 and 15 editions.  Open editions are in existence but not recommended for valuing the ongoing marketing of work.  Pricing will be about the presence of the artist in the media, previous sales if any, the research and investment in the image making; Francesca acknowledged that if “it’s wrong if your are not selling”. 

Francesca issues a contract that is often bespoke to an artist’s situation and the gallery’s view of the relationship.  Responsibilities need to upheld on both sides.  Expectations vary and some artists have a sophisticated ‘packages’ of work, others are open-ended and less defined.

Francesca sees the photobook as an affordable method to reach clients, but it should not be a catalogue for a show, it can be a solo object, a supplement to an exhibition, but not essential. 

Practice Reflection

The gallery I spend time visiting and talking to the owner about is Argentea in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.  I regard such networking as part of my practice agenda.  The gallery has been operating for circa 15 months and has shown relatively high end and middle ranking photographers through to graduate work and is about to open a ‘review’ show of a number of artists previously hung.  It is, like Francesca Maffeo Gallery, a commercial contemporary photography gallery with a ‘shop front’.   Currently books are not sold there but I understand there is a plan to begin representing artists in the future.  The owner is well networked with the growing buyers database but also enmeshed in the local and national groups of operators in the exhibition, critique circles and educational fields.  The gallery has become more active on social media, via Facebook and Instagram.  I have spent time retweeting and liking the posts in order to promote Argentea as a gallery that is unique in Birmingham’s arena of arts. On an informal front it is manifestly relevant to numerous conversations with agents and other people in the photography and art community to be citing Argentea as a significant node on the local map of facilities and influencers.

References accessed 25.11.2017 accessed 25.11.2017 accessed 25.11.2017 accessed 25.11.2017 accessed 25.11.2017


Treatment – a Proposal

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects.  Week 9

We were tasked by Amy Simmons, Art Producer at M&C Saatchi, with creating a treatment proposal (see footnote for full text of brief).

This is my proposal;

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Wider reading;

From the Forbes website accessed on 11.12.2017 there is an appropriate thought “I’ve learned that this generation values being acknowledged as individuals, being presented with options, and feeling connected. They’re receptive to brand storytelling over straightforward ads. Millennials exhibit early adoption tendencies and develop a loyalty to brands they can trust. Millennials don’t care if content is branded; they care about whether it speaks to them”.

Useful link:


The Brief

This is for a European department store who is trying to break into the UK market, so that’s the client that you need to have in mind. The target market is UK shoppers, any gender aged 20 – 30.

The brief itself is a campaign about how people have intimate and personal relationships with inanimate objects.

You should focus on an item of your choosing within the treatment. It can be clothing, a book, a piece of art, food, electronic item, basically, anything that someone might purchase in a department store.

You can do this in any way that you choose, this is a very open brief. It’s your interpretation of that, We do get briefs like this sometimes, where the art director doesn’t come up with a visual and they really leave it down to the photographer.

You can take this in any direction that you so choose in terms of treatment and lighting. You could just do a simple still life or you could do something with cast or on location, as long as there’s a sense of affection that can be illustrated for that object. You really need to feel that someone loves that object, however you choose to interpret that.

This is a bit of a practical element to the brief: where is the copy going to sit on the image? It’s going to sit in the top left hand corner and will read ‘This -insert object here- is mine’, obviously that would be the name of whatever object you would choose. The copy will be in white, so you should have a darker space in the top left for legibility. The logo of the company will be in the bottom right.

Those are some considerations you should talk about, how you would compose the shot and how you would keep those areas clean to ensure that both of those things are legible. Treatment and lighting, as I mentioned.

This company are commissioning a variety of different photographers who have totally different styles, so it is very much your take on the brief. Do it in your style, with visual references that inspire you.

Cast: if you think that you do want to use cast, obviously include some references of the sorts of people you are thinking of. They must look like they might genuinely own that object or item. If depicting multiple people, they should be a mix of ethnicities and the same age range as the target market. 22

If you are thinking about shooting on location, the location should be UK based but also this could be shot in a studio, it really depends on how you want to interpret the brief. I think one of the key factors will be making this object feel like the hero of the shot in some way.

Formats: this is a key point. The brief is just for one asset, so one shot, but it will be for a social media post. As I talked about earlier, please be aware in your treatment and maybe discuss how this image is going to work for the square crop for Instagram, the portrait crop for Snapchat, and the landscape crop for Facebook. Will you capture everything in one shot or would you compose the three different formats differently?

Practice Development : Sound & Vision

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects.  Week 8


figure 1

This account centres on work in progress towards my final project.  This involves applying the talent of Leon Trimble, an innovative sound and vision artist who has built a reputation on producing and delivering amazing sets.  From the Birmingham Open Media (BoM) web site, where Leon is a fellow, he is described thus “Leon is currently developing ideas inspired by astrophysics, gravitational waves and data visualisation/sonification with researchers from the University of Birmingham, to see how Interferometers (used for measuring gravitational waves) could be connected to audio visual synthesisers of his own making”.  An example of his work can be found here.


figure 2

Leon (seen here in his studio, figure 2) and I have been talking for 5 months about the spatial mapping and virtual representing spaces as a collaborative proposition in my Pause Project.  He invited be back to BoM (see figure 1) this week to see his latest hardware, software and thoughts.


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Firstly, a newly imported second hand headset, the Occipital Bridge, which uses an iPhone 6 (in this case) as the processor, camera and screen, but a Structure Sensor and controller allows a space to be mapped by swivelling through 360 degrees and recording a space and all its features, then, on mounting the headset, you can move around the space as it uses depth sensors and, by movement of your head and triggering the handheld controller you experience a mixed reality blend of the real and the virtual, in other words the space is explored both visually via the model created as well as ‘really’ as you can see your hands and other people in the space.  You can trigger onto the scene a toy-like robot that then moves around to your command.  A mixture of excitement and nausea pervaded me and we then chatted about how this could be used to experience a space; a challenge for the Pause Project as that is a documentation of inaccessible pause spaces (for the general public), however it could be an adjunct to the space I hope to find to host my final exhibition installation.

Figures 4, 5

On a slightly more applied, but equally enticing experiment, we created an imaginary photographic exhibition and began to programme using Madmapper software (figure 4) a multiple series of images onto a matrix concrete wall.  The file from that set up would, once perfected, be transferred via a micro-SD card placed inside the Raspberry Pi based Madmapper projector controller (figure 5), which in turn can be resident in an exhibition alongside and connected to an HD projector.  This would allow me the facility to create a two sided wall as a final project with a series of unique hand-made concrete images to one side, conventionally lit and a rolling series of images from the wider body of work on the other with the possible inclusion of sound and moving images.  I have already begun to delve into archives of the architect John Madin to find film footage that could be used as part of the memoriam I plan using imagery and concrete.


BoM website accessed 18.11.2017

Occipital accessed 18.11.2017

Software link accessed 18.11.2017

All images Philip Singleton (shot with an iPhone)