Art is rarely just created solely for the artist, often made as a commission or gift, but the majority of art sits in the public realm. Historically this was the gallery wall, the open studio, civic building or hotel lobby; but now even amateur artists and hobbyists can publish their latest work to potentially a mass audience through social media, the art critic’s judgement replaced by peer reviews and the number of likes it receives.
‘Public art is art in any media that has been planned and executed with the intention of being staged in the physical public domain, usually outside and accessible to all.’ Knight, Cher Krause (2008). Public Art: theory, practice and populism. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
Having a piece of sculpture installed into a city square by contractors is a typical example of public art but my experience of making a piece, in the 12ft x 5ft empty frame of a boarded up window, in a very public square over the course of 4 weeks takes ‘public’ to a new level.
The work, a photomosaic, was conceived 6 months prior to the installation, and submitted to Bideford Bay Creatives for inclusion in their Culture Show ‘art in non-gallery spaces’ for August – September 2015. Once the concept was accepted permission was obtained from the shop manager of McColls locally and nationally and of the building owner to use the blanked out windows for the piece. Permission was given so long as the artwork was temporary or was easily removable in the future.
As this was to be public art I wanted the public to be part of it hence the idea of a photomosaic which I estimated could be made from 700 to 800 separate images, many of which could come from the public realm. I had never made a photomosaic but my arts practice over the last 20 years, from triptychs made with a film camera to detailed interiors of sea caves have been achieved through constructing an image from many frames. I have also been teaching photography through this period and wanted there to be a learning element to the work also. With this in mind I approached Devon Youth Service in Bideford as a partner in the project so that local young people would get the opportunity to experience the photographic arts process and see their photographs in a public space.
Through experimenting with Artensoft Photo Mosaic Wizard software it became clear that a colourful, high contrast, graphic image would be needed to base the mosaic on. The theme of Culture Show was the River, and so I wanted to use Bideford’s iconic, historic longbridge, which dates back to the 13th century to build the work from.
The ‘frame’ I needed to fill was wide-screen in shape so I needed a view of the bridge head on, much like it is in Bideford’s coat of arms, however this is a view rarely seen as you need to be in the middle of the river to see it. I took up the challenge on a very low tide with sunshine highlighting the uneven arches of the bridge; and walked to the middle of the channel using a bamboo cane to check for sinking sand. Conscious of the incoming tide the initial photographic panorama was made very quickly. These images were stitched together in Photoshop’s Photomerge enhanced in Lightroom and then the saturation was increased to give me the graphic representation I was hoping for.
Photographic Workshops in Devon and South West, Autumn 2015
Digital Camera Skills – £50
A practical days workshop learning to gain control over your camera, shutter speeds, aperture, ISO, flash etc, setting it up for optimum quality under any given lighting, and making better pictures through composition. Numbers limited to a hand-full. I also offer it on a 1:1 basis for ½ a day for £75
Saturday 10th October in Bideford, (10am-5pm)
Wednesday 4th November in Ilfracombe, (10am-5pm)
Half Day Intro to digital photography – £25
A ‘sit around the table’ workshop to get to know your camera better. You’ll learn about shutter speeds, aperture, ISO, flash and setting your camera up for optimum quality.
Tuesday 3rd November in Bideford, (10am-1pm)
iPhoneography Workshop – £25
A practical workshop to learn how to use your iPhone’s camera to take professional looking photographs and enhance those images on the go. Suitable for anyone with an iPhone. You will need to install a few cheap photo apps in advance which I’ll advise on when booking!
Friday 9th October in Bideford, (10am-1pm)
SmartPhone Photography – £25
A practical workshop to learn how to use your Smartphone’s camera (Android, Windows or Apple) to take professional looking photographs and enhance those images on the go. Suitable for anyone with a SmartPhone. You will need to install a few cheap photo apps in advance which I’ll advise on when booking!
Thursday 22nd October in Barnstaple, (10am-1pm)
Sea Caves, Shipwrecks and the Rocky Shore (10am – 5pm) – £50
An introduction to Dave Green’s own photography. Spend a day with Dave experiencing the secret coast, hidden at the far ends of a sandy beach, full of caves and shipwrecks. Learn how to make the best of your own camera under demanding landscape and lighting. tba
Painting With Light (Light Graffiti) – £25 per photographer (but please bring a torch swinging friend at no extra cost)
An evening workshop celebrating the dark nights of the Winter. You’ll learn how to make ‘long exposure’ photographs using coloured lights, flames, sparklers, al almost full moon and hand-held flash
Saturday 21st November at Westward Ho!, (6.30pm-9pm)
Photographing your own Artwork – £60 with lunch, tea and coffee provided!
I have a wealth of knowledge and experience of photographing 2D artwork, jewellery and ceramics and I’m willing to pass this on to artists eager to improve their own image making camera skills. Although this workshop is for a small group (max 4) I also offer it on a 1:1 basis for ½ a day for £75, or I can deliver the workshop in your own home or studio anywhere in Devon for £125
Monday 19th October in Bideford, (10am-5pm)
Introduction to Photoshop (11am–6pm) – £75 with lunch, tea and coffee provided!
Opening an image file and adjusting levels, contrast, brightness and colour balance. Rotating, resizing and cropping an image. Placing an image or images into a new file. Using layers and history. Participants will need to be computer literate i.e. use a computer on regular basis and understand the basic controls. Small group (max 4). I also offer it on a 1:1 basis in your own home or studio anywhere in Devon for £175
Friday 6th November in Bideford, (10am-5pm)
I’ve been inspired recently seeing new images initiated by the Curiosity rover and beamed back from Mars.
It’s so interesting that the cutting edge of exploration is a camera 36 million miles away, programmed to automatically take photographs, in much the same way as I shoot the interior of a cave on the coast of North Devon, England, Earth. Below is a self portrait done in the same way, a 55-frame sequence that captured everything the technicians back on earth needed to make the image; a combination of those frames, again much like I do with my own photographs.
I had considered the concept of exploration and documentation a somewhat Victorian occupation with little in common with the contemporary issue based arts practice of today. But these images give me solace as some of the places I find to photograph can certainly feel very remote, unseen by human eyes and unexplored.
It ought to be noted that these amazing photographs where originally sent back to earth in monotone and a technician has patiently sat at a computer and added the colour, in interpretation of what we might see on Mars. I’m certain, once Curiosity eventually returns to Earth, it will hold samples of the rock and sand photographed and an accurate colour picture will be made. The rover will also possibly bring back high resolution colour images; now wouldn’t that be something!
Landmark Theatre, Ilfracombe
25 February – 7 April 2013
Reviewed by: Peter Berry »
Currently showing at the Landmark Theatre is an exhibition by the photographic artist Dave Green who has been exploring, photographing and researching the history of the North Devon Coastal landscape where he has lived and worked for the past seven years.
Both the earlier, smaller and framed pieces (first shown at the North Carolina Aquarium USA last year) and the later, larger and frameless works show a consistent fascination with the subject matter of the rocky shoreline and its caves. The progression and refinement of the ongoing process in the direction of a ‘greater realism’ is impressive.
|Combe Martin Lead Mine|
Green works on location with a camera, often photographing a single place for as long as an hour and making a large number of images of his subject. In the studio the images are meticulously and patiently worked into a completed final image using Photoshop software. As the artist says “I am trying to make a record of a place over a passage of time in a single image”.
In discussing his work Green says that we see details with the eye and brain which the camera can’t see in a single frame or exposure and that means that the single frame cannot contain the richness and complexity of the original experience. This has to be created in the studio. Decisions about composition, colour, scale and the framing edge are continuously examined and adjusted as the image ‘comes into line’ with the artist’s memory of the experience.
The later series of prints are very finely drawn with the quality of etching. The frameless edges of these larger pieces allows the onlooker to experience a more direct involvement with the subject. This experience is both intimate and dramatic. It is as if we are inside, in the place of the artist, looking out towards the light, the sky and shoreline, surrounded by the detailed surface and texture of these mysterious and timeless caves.
In addition to the formal and aesthetic concerns of picture making,the artist aims to arrive at images which are a true record of the objective and subjective nature of our experiences of the coastal landscape and it’s associations. In this regard the artist references other disciplines such as geology, local history and environmental studies and in order to deepen our understanding includes maps and texts relating to the images.
Dave Green also offers group workshops and personal tuition. Further information about the artist and his work can be found at www.greengallery.co.uk
Peter Berry Artist/Writer/Lecturer b. 1936 Cheltenham, Gloucestershire Art College: 1957 – 63 Cheltenham and Slade School – Sculpture/Printmaking. Teaching: ILEA, Cheltenham, Birmingham (Senior Lecturer in Foundation Studies). Qualifications: NDD, PGDip Fine Art, MA (Art Ed.), M. Soc. Sci. (Cultural Studies). Exhibitions: includes Solo and Group Shows in London (MBA Gallery), Birmingham (Ikon Gallery), Glasgow (Goethe Institute), Cambridge (Arts Council) and Leicester (LCBD). Lives and practices art in Hinckley, Leicestershire. Website: www.peterberry.org.uk
The Landmark Theatre Ilfracombe North Devon
“A little way beyond this point the traveller looks down upon a cove called Sampson’s Bay; it is girt in with rocky cliffs of great massiveness and wild grandeur, too abrupt and perpendicular to be scaled, even by the most expert climber. An ample cavern yawns on the western side of the bay, into whose depths, as the tide was high, the surf was dashing, with a roar that rivalled the discharge of artillery. I thought of the fine simile of Thomas Moore:
‘Beneath, terrific caverns gave
Dark welcome to each stormy wave
That dash’d, like midnight revellers, in’
A new friend, Alan, showed me the old mining track down, very overgrown but not needing a rope to safely access the beach. 2013 is the 100th anniversary of a shipwreck in the bay of a British Sharpshooter-class torpedo gunboat launched in 1889/90 but no-one knows for sure which one it is, and whether it was actually wrecked or just left to die! There was also a passenger steamer that ran aground here:
“Much excitement was caused in Ilfracombe and neighbourhood on Thursday evening when it became known that the saloon steamer Alexandra, with about 300 passengers on boards, was ashore near Watermouth castle, the exact spot being Sampson’s Beach.” (Ilfracombe Observer August 22 1893 p 7 c 2)
But I was really here to explore the caves, of which there are many, including the largest of these Samson’s Cave. This cave is legendary, it might have got it’s name from an infamous smuggler said to have used it as a store house. It is probably the cave used for hiding contraband in the allegedly true story ‘The Call of Chambercome’ written in the 1850’s and set in the seventeenth century. A lot will have changed over 400 years, especially as the cave was mined for limestone and possibly silver up to 150 years ago. But it is still a fascinating place, awesome, sublime and majestic.
You’ll have to wait another few months for some finished images from here but the thumbnail images, or sketches are looking very promising. The top image is a sketch from my second visit and gives an impression of what might be achievable once I have spent some days editing, combining, stitching and merging the 128 RAW frames shot of this subject; over a time period of 65 minutes in a cramped position. I accesses Samson’s Cave just as the huge tide had left it’s entrance, sliding down an almost sheer, smooth rock wall to get in. A cave always looks its best when it is wet, ideally with water dripping from the ceiling.
This image is the first, stitched snapshot image from further back in the cave which I made on my first outing. Although I included more of the cave interior in the image it reaaly lacked colour because the rock was so dry and the composition is a lot weaker that the image above, seen as I retraced my steps to leave the cave on my first visit. Below is an iPhone snapshot of the outside of Samson’s Cave which looks far from impressive or inviting.
“Another name which conjures up visions of smuggling days is Sampson’s Bay – one of the most convenient spots along the coast for men who gained their livelihood by luring vessels to destruction. Sampson was a smuggler of repute.” (Ilfracombe Chronicle Sept. 1st 1933 p 6)
I’m indebted to John Moore who’s website devoted to Hele Bay is a wealth of knowledge.
Also I include below a quick iPhone snapshot using the AutoStitch app