I knew that life after my MA in Photography wouldn’t suddenly be a whirlwind of photographic revelry and opportunity – especially here in Cornwall.
It’s one of the reasons why I am working on a photographic project to bring national/international photographic art to Cornwall.
I am currently writing a business plan to secure funding to launch a pilot scheme of pop-up shows and workshops in unconventional spaces to engage people of all walks of life, in a variety of locations that are off the well beaten arts path.
Places where those who may have never attended an exhibition before can mingle with the photo-art aficionado, where it does not matter what knowledge or viewpoint of photographic art you have, an occasion where photography can create a diverse community that laughs, challenges, binds and bends the ‘white cube’ rules.
As a student I discovered more and more about the numerous talented and inspiring contemporary photographers here in the UK and abroad.
But what I also discovered is much of this work only ever reaches London, or fabulous venues such as the Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool or Ffotogallery in Cardiff, but nothing much ever crosses the Tamar.
With Cornwall being the second poorest area in northern Europe1, this means people living here, but not living the Cornwall-brand lifestyle, do not have the opportunity to discover exciting photographers with amazing visual stories to tell.
Yes, there are many arts-related projects taking place in Cornwall, and pockets of projects that nod towards photography such as The Fish Factory in Penryn.
We even have a great university known for the high standard of its photographic students – I just finished studying with Falmouth University.
But these tend to be located in one place. And with finance and rural transportation being one of the biggest hurdles to overcome, not everyone has the luxury (yes, I said luxury) of travelling to see shows or join in events.
In its 2016 Sector Dialogue on Funding 2018 and Beyond report, the Arts Council England stated: Socio-economic diversity is felt to be a challenge in all regions but was felt to be particularly relevant to organisations and individuals in rural areas….
This may be the case in Cornwall. Art is not meant just for a certain section of society – I’m keen to see photography be used as a tool to bring people together, to bring the ‘outside’ in, to provide new ways of seeing and encourage conversation.
The Box Brownie (launched February 1900) has been cited as the camera that democratised photography. If it is the medium open to all, then let’s use it as a tool that can encompass all.
I’m hoping to be able to share progress on this plan as it develops (no pun intended, I promise).
1. Inequalitybriefing.org [online]. Available at: http://inequalitybriefing.org/graphics/briefing_43_UK_regions_poorest_North_Europe.pdfAccessed October 28, 2018.
2. Arts Council England. Sector Dialogue on Funding 2018 and Beyond. Available at: https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/sites/default/files/download-file/Arts-Council-England_Sector-dialogue-on-funding-2018-and-beyond.pdf Accessed October 28, 2018.