Between the Tides at the Festival of Ideas

I was invited to exhibit a selection of the beautiful sea bathers of Walpole Bay and the last whelkman of Broadstairs as part of the Festival of Ideas 2016 at The Creative Edge. The Festival of Ideas, located at Edge Hill University, importantly examines culture, health and society, envisioning ways for communities, arts and healthcare to develop and flourish in times of austerity and inequality. So in February 2016 the images were crated and shipped north to represent and celebrate the Isle of Thanet's coastal communities.

 

 

SALT: Festival of the Sea & Environment

I was invited to co-curate SALT: Festival of the Sea & Environment with Allegra Galvin from Folkestone Quarterhouse and Di Dever of Folkestone Fringe. Over four days from 21 - 24 October, 2016, SALT presented talks, walks, sea swims, workshops, foraging, installations, theatre shows, exhibitions and sought to explore the coastal communities and environment.  The Festival was supported by Canterbury Christ Church University, the Quarter House and an award made to me by the Creative Foundation's Festival Fund. (The images for the Festival shown here are a mixture from our Festival photographer, Shaun Vincent and a few  generous snaps taken during the Festival prep'.)

When originally invited to co-curate this timely Festival it was without any hesitation that I said yes. As the co-director for CCCU's Centre for Research on Communities and Cultures and director of the South East Archive of Seaside Photography, I immediately recognised that the collaboration could prove utterly beneficial. This Festival was never simply or crassly about taking knowledge out to this very specific, very beautiful coastal community - rather it was always intended to be a genuine exchange of knowledge(s), understandings, enthusiasms and passions.

Coastal communities matter... Our coastlines, our seas, our marine environment matter and should be high on the national agenda. Salt: Sea & Environment Festival  provided a plethora of ways in which to gather, to discuss and to consider our complex connections with the coast.

We Are Here: The Best Of Us Commission

In 2015 I was commissioned by the extraordinary organisation People United to create a portrait series for the large Big Local / Best of Use project taking part on the Newington housing estate in Ramsgate, Kent, UK. My brief was to identify residents who were valued by the community and recognised as enhancing the lives of others. To begin with I was regarded with suspicion as I wondered about the estate - and why not?  I wasn't known to the residents and  I would be wondering  around, camera bag on shoulder, seemingly asking obscure questions to random passersby. Through attending community events I became less of an intruder and eventually had some beautiful encounters - most tellingly when I asked who was enhancing community life on the estate the same names were coming up time and time again. I had my subjects and now all I needed to do was to convince them to let me photograph them. The bewilderment as I asked to photograph each subject was humbling. Their contributions to the community was never seen by them as 'worthy' or 'doing good deeds' - it is just what they do / what they are.