Starting out in his father’s carpentry workshop, Ken Grant first pursued his interest in photography through a two-year technical course, studying with unemployed shipyard labourers in the mid-1980s. He’s now a respected documentary photographer who also teaches at the Belfast School of Art; as his work on New Brighton goes on show alongside his early mentors Tom Wood and Martin Parr, and BJP caught up with him on his approach to pedagogy
“I was the first to move to New Brighton, and it was by sheer chance,” says Tom Wood. “I studied fine art part-time [a Fine Art Painting BA at Leicester Polytechnic], then went back to the car factory where I had worked before. Then I found a job as a photo technician at the poly [now Wirral Metropolitan College, where he went on to teach], and we moved there in September 1978.”
Thus began a golden age for photography in New Brighton, which lasted until 2003 when Wood moved to his current home in North Wales. In the intervening 25 years, Ken Grant also lived in New Brighton from 1992-2002, studying for a spell at Wirral Met, and Martin Parr was based just 20 minutes away from 1982-1985. Between them the three photographers created a huge body of work on the seaside town, which is based just across the River Mersey from Liverpool in North England.
Magnum Photos just completed its annual AGM and has announced five new photographers are to join as Nominees – Rafal Milach (Poland), Sim Chi Yin (Singapore), Lua Ribeira (Spain), Gregory Halpern (USA), and Lindokuhle Sobekwa (South Africa).
Under Magnum’s system, photographers first join as Nominees, before graduating to become Associates a couple of years later. After a spell as Associates, they then become full Members – a status which confers life-time membership of the world-famous agency. Magnum has also announced that previous Nominees Sohrab Hura (India) and Lorenzo Meloni (Italy) have become Associates.
It’s little more than a decade since Ricardo Cases took his first tentative steps into the world with his personal work, exhibiting as part of New Spanish Photography at Lodz Fotofestiwal in 2007, a group show that travelled on to China and Slovakia. More than a dozen solo shows followed across Spain over the next three years before his international breakthrough with the book Paloma al aire [Pigeons in flight], published by Dewi Lewis in 2011. Ostensibly, the book follows pigeon-fanciers in Valencia and Murcia going about a local racing ritual, painting male birds for a competition in which the winner is the cock that attracts the hen. But with its distinctive spiral-bound, notebook appearance, and Cases’ tight framing, emphasising the surreality of the chase, it acquired a cult following, marking the arrival of a singular talent. The unconventional traits to this and his subsequent works are clearly evident in his first major survey exhibition, on show in Madrid from 13 June to 22 July at the spectacular Sala Canal Isabel II, as part of this year’s Photo España.
From the 4 June, for five days only, signed or estate-stamped, museum quality 6×6” prints will be available to purchase for $100, from more than 70 Magnum photographers – each responding to the theme ‘freedom’. Fifty years ago, in 1968, the world succumbed to momentous change. It was a seismic year of deep societal and political shifts in the name of freedom. In America particularly, the civil rights movement took hold, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, and anti-Vietnam war protests raged. But all over the world, international issues of freedom from oppression, freedom of speech, and political, sexual and religious freedom, also came to the fore as protests racked cities. To celebrate this year in history, the Magnum Photos June 2018 Square Print Sale is examining the very definition of freedom and its legacy. The works on sale span the last 70 years, and capture both deeply personal, and universal, notions of freedom. “Freedom is often described with big words, but we encounter it every day in the little things we do,” says Newsha …
“I don’t have a journalistic bone in my body,” says Chris Dorley-Brown. “I’ve never been to Kosovo. Loads of people do that really well, but I don’t have the urge or the instinct, and that’s partly why I don’t really think of myself as a professional. I do the odd advertising job to earn money, and I think I do it okay, but the phone isn’t ringing off the hook with jobs because I don’t put the energy into promoting myself, since I’m wandering around here all the time. I keep my overheads low and can just about get away with it.” It’s a modest way to sum up an extraordinary body of work – more than 30 years of images, nearly all shot in London’s East End, and most photographed on the street. Some show luxury new developments, others rundown social housing. Some capture crowds of people, some empty streets. Many are one-offs, others – such as the images in The Corners – are manipulated using Photoshop to put various passersby together on one intersection
Europe boasts more than a hundred photography festivals, but few match the scale and ambition of Photo España in Madrid. This year, the organisation behind it, La Fábrica, celebrates the festival’s 20th edition with a typically eclectic summer season of activities throughout the Spanish capital, encompassing the work of more than 500 artists across dozens of venues that range from the small to the iconic. “The festival is a collective project with a wide variety of institutions, both public and private, supporting it,” says director Claude Bussac, who is hoping that the 2018 edition will “push forward both the formal and geographical boundaries of photography… We aim to celebrate our 20th anniversary questioning photographic meaning and inviting photographers from every continent.”
In the UK nobody lives more than 72 miles from the sea, and the seaside is entrenched in our culture because of it. “The coastline is significant to Brits whether we live there, or not,” says Simon Roberts, who lives in the seaside town of Brighton, and who has returned to the coast again and again in his work. Now his images are appearing in an exhibition called The Great British Seaside at the National Maritime Museum this spring, alongside work by David Hurn, Martin Parr and the late Tony Ray-Jones.
Peter James was an instrumental figure in British photography, establishing an outstanding collection of photography at the Library of Birmingham over his 26-year career at the institution, and researching and curating exhibitions at the V&A, National Portrait Gallery, Somerset House, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Ikon Galley, the Library of Birmingham, and many more. He was also a modest and affable man, universally known as Pete and as at home over a curry as in a lecture hall delivering an academic paper. As Hilary Roberts, research curator at the Imperial War Museum, put it in a tribute on James’ Facebook page: “Pete has been a wonderful friend and exceptional colleague for more years than I can remember. His contribution to the world of photography cannot be overstated. It was a privilege to work with him and I will miss him more than I can say.”
“Back in 2005, I made a list of possible subjects to photograph and taking photos at a horse racing meeting was top of the list,” says Martin Amis, who first went to the races as a child with his father. “I have vivid memories of these childhood days out; the sea of interesting faces, the hubbub of activity and the thrill of winning.” When he started Amis had no plans to make a book but, after taking a break from the project in 2009, he realised it had the potential. Now he’s finally launching The Gamblers, which he’s made with RRB Publishing. “I put together a dummy version back then, but this was a time when the photobook business really started to take off, so I left it as a work-in-progress,” he says. “I mentioned the project to Rudi Thoemmes at RRB in 2016, and with his encouragement I decided to revisit the work and shoot more material to finish the book.” The photobook business he mentions is his online shop, Photobookstore.co.uk, which he set …