18th August 2012
Ffotogallery, Penarth was once again the venue for the second study visit/tutorial day this year. Jesse Alexander led six students and one husband through the exhibition ‘Daniel Meadows: Early Photographic Works’ and a visit to Chapter to see and browse their photographic book library, see some of their national print collection of the ‘Valley’s’ and discuss work in progress from the students.
Meadows’ work was laid out around the walls of the upper gallery in a chronological order, from the time he was a student in Manchester, ‘The Graeme Street Free Studio’ to his work at Butlins with Martin Parr, on to the ‘June Street Project’ again with Parr and finally ‘The Free Photographic Omnibus’. Two glass cabinets also contained original work on 6″ X 4″ sheets which were also pictured on the walls in gallery sized images. Downstairs were some of the earliest images from ‘The Graeme Street Free Studio’ where the lighting and backgrounds were in trial and error stage. Meadows said to anyone that complained, ‘what do expect, I’m only a student and I’m still learning?’ and got away with murder, well almost. In the video area some of Meadows later work with video and digital capture were running, each being chosen by the audience in any order and initiated from a PC.
I find Meadows’ work very interesting from the point of view that he clearly engages with his subjects and it comes through in his images, unlike his contemporary Parr whose work always has that slightly ‘outsider looking in’ quality. I think Meadows found this different too from his middle-class upbringing to find himself immersed in working-class oikishness and trying to capture it before it disappeared into the more ersatz society of today.
The visit to Chapter was shortened somewhat because of the extended route some of us took to get there from Penarth and so some of what had been planned for the day was curtailed.
It was interesting to see some of the national archive of ‘Valley’s’ images and to also to note that David Bailey was employed as one of the many photographers who contributed to this body of work, a somewhat out-of-body experience no doubt.
The photographic book library is extensive and is available to anyone who cares to go along and research through it, although for most this is a place that is well out-of-the-way for a passing visit.
The day was wound up with Jesse giving helpful advice on work in progress presented by the students and I’m sure we all gained something from his knowledge and critique.