Friday 16 August 2013

"Home is...": Starting out

We’ve been a bit quiet of late on here (and on the facebook page), but we can finally reveal why; we have a massive new project on the go which will be culminating with us having a gallery exhibition next year!  We’ve been exhibiting work for a while off and on (and have both had solo shows in the past in Birmingham, Carlisle, and Shipley), but recently we’ve only been showing work as part of group open calls.  This time, it’s an opportunity to exhibit a project we’re doing called “Home is…” based off an old project of Amy’s from our University days.

The work will be exhibited next autumn at the Cupola Contemporary Arts gallery in Hillsborough, Sheffield.  We first exhibited with this friendly and very professional outfit a couple of years ago, entering an open call they’d advertised through Creative Bradford.  We’ve since shown (and sold) work with them a few times, but earlier this year we approached them with a couple of proposals for exhibitions.  And to our delight, they agreed.  Anyway, here’s some more about the gallery:

The Project- “Home is…”

This is something Amy started whilst at University in Carlisle, “Chair”, a shoot where elements of a living room set would have been assembled out in various locations around Cumbria, the idea being to juxtapose the cosy domestic setting within a contrasting landscape.  The practise shoots basically involved lugging an armchair around Cumbria, mainly by foot rather than by car during a particularly cold winter, and taking lots of photographs of a model (me) sat in the chair reading a paper with my face hidden.  The angle of anonymity is something that Cupola were very keen on; allowing the viewer to ‘project themselves’ into the shots.

The practise shoots never got the chance to progress to the full, massive project due to time constraints with other projects and coursework, and for a few years the shoot was just a background idea lurking in the ideas book.  In 2012 we got chance to shoot some slightly more complex versions of the project, as a first stage towards applying for a proposal for an actual show.  These pictures were shot in Wales, in the early hours of the morning (in an attempt to avoid awkward questions from random members of the general public who seem to object to photographers a lot of the time).

And so onto this evolution of the project; over the next year, we will be expanding the project for a massive series of shoots in varying locations around The North, the Midlands, Wales, and anywhere else practical which takes our fancy, all following the similar format of small, contained domestic sets (living room, office, bedroom, kitchen, etc) with varying models, always with their faces hidden to maintain the anonymity angle, just pictured relaxing in these environments. 

And as we go along, we will be keeping up regular updates on the blog and FB account documenting the shoots as we do them, along with the work we’re doing on other big projects.

Prop Acquisition

   When we first did the Chair pictures as the practise shoot back in Carlisle, all we had was the chair.  It was a bit heavy, a little impractical, and was rescued from a skip during a house clearance (slightly morbid that we did so well out of the famous Carlisle flood of 2004), but given the restricted timescale for the shoots, Amy didn’t manage to acquire anything else for it.

By the time of the further practise shoots in 2012, that original chair (which we were never that satisfied with) was long lost, so we had to start again.  And being as we planned to do the shoot at very short notice, a degree of improvisation was required.  The new chair was actually a broken wooden kitchen chair that received some rather heavy modification with plywood, hardboard, and cardboard tubes to create an actual armchair shape.  This was then clad in card and bubblewrap to bulk it out a bit further, then the whole thing was covered with a chintz bedsheet which was pegged at the back to make it look more armchair like.  The results were not entirely convincing (limited as we were by both time and the need to make something that could fit in the back of a Ford KA), but we figured it would do for the concept shots.  The lamp was equally improvised, constructed hastily from a mixing bowl, a washing line prop, an Ikea bin and a cheap LED ring-light, all hot-glued together and spray painted.

The concept shots proved their purpose though, and now we needed to get cracking with buying actual props.  Initially the issue of having a portable, lightweight chair which could be transported in a small car proved a tricky one; thoughts of redressing a folding camping chair or blow-up chair were sunk because a) it might look a bit naff, and b) they wouldn’t be durable enough for repeated use.
   After a day of searching every charity shop in Shipley, Saltaire, Bingley, and Keighley, we finally found the perfect chair- a tenner for a lovely old armchair that dismantled into three parts- nice and easy to transport.  Suitably washed, cleaned and polished, its perfect for the shoot

   The bookcase is actually an old display cabinet that was designed to be hung on a wall- we removed the glass doors, glued the shelves into place, and gave it a bit of a clean.  The lamp is a standard Ikea product, the only ‘new’ item bought for the shoot so far.  Books and ornaments on the shelves were from charity shops or our own props collections.  The rug is mine from when I lived back in the midlands.  We spent some time arranging, and rearranging, these things until we were happy with the layout, though in practise the contents of the shelves will vary shot by shot.

To start with we will be focussing on the chair shots; later, more room sets will be made (for which we have already begun acquiring items) incorporating bedrooms, desks, etc.

No comments:

Post a Comment