Reading : A Start and a Return
Exhibition in Reading – 25th July to 8th August, 2015
Five photographers who met at Berkshire College of Art and Design decided to meet again on the 30th Anniversary of their leaving and hold a reunion photographic exhibition. “A chance to reflect back at Reading, photography and each other and contemplate where it all ended up three decades later”. The website for the Exhibition is here
The main reason I visited was because one of these students is Tanya Ahmed – a graduate of the OCA Photography Course and now studying for an MA with OCA. I hadn’t had the opportunity to actually meet Tanya before (she now lives and works in New York) but we have corresponded occasionally by email, I follow her blog and also had the opportunity to see her OCA work when it was exhibited in Sheffield in 2014 alongside the work of five other OCA graduates.
On the day of my visit, there was an opportunity to meet beforehand at 8am for a photographic walk in the surrounding area. The idea was to create some 6×4 images to add to Tanya’s archive , “Postcards of Reading 2015” and these postcards will be exhibited in a pop-up Exhibition at the Turbine House on Saturday, 8th August, the final day of the Exhibition. I couldn’t make the 8am start which was fortunate in some respects as it poured with rain for most of the morning!
This is a small and unique exhibition space which houses preserved turbine machinery. It spans the river Kennet at Blake’s Lock which was quite a raging torrent when I arrived. The permanent Exhibition Boards are around the walls and also between parts of the machinery.
Tanya is now a senior photographer with NYPD and also freelances with several museums including the Guggenheim and the Met. Her personal work centres around the built environment. As part of the Exhibition she chose photographs of Reading residents 30 years ago and made new photographs of New York residents. There were also photographs of her friends then and now, with the latter being created using Skype. Additionally there were some postcard sized prints contrasting Reading in the 80s and New York now.
I’m always fascinated to see photographs of then and now – particularly of people so really enjoyed looking.
Looking at the two above – I thought the first one was taken in New York but it wasn’t – it was Reading 30 years ago. Those two young men look so American to me and I’m reminded somehow of Jack Kerouac and James Dean et al from even earlier times!
Darran has worked as a fireman for the past 30 years after spending a short time in the photographic field. He still takes photographs, often portraying the quieter side of the emergency services and his theme for the Exhibition was “Life in the Triple 999s”.
Darran no longer follows photography as a career but I would like to see him create some more documentary photographs on the Emergency Services, maybe stemming from the collage he created from the insides of lockers.
Dave has worked as an editorial photographer for the last 30 years, taking photographs for magazines, online media, newspapers and record companies. His theme for the Exhibition was “Reloaded” – some of his favourite images from the last 30 years, reflecting the gradual changes in technology that have occurred.
I can see his style with that sense of energy and movement.
Peter now works in the world of cycling, in products, design and branding and still uses his photography for promoting and marketing his products. For the Exhibition he chose the theme of “People, Places & Mountains” selecting photographs from journeys across Europe in the 1980s.
Richard chose still life and product photography as his career although I see from his website that he also undertakes portraits and videography. He has had his own studio since he was 23. His theme for the Exhibition was “Product Photography: Film VS Digital”
Then and Now:
It was interesting to see how product photography has evolved over the years and how much more products are both made to ‘pop’ by lighting techniques and also become more portrait-like.
It was good to see how the Exhibition has some added interest in terms of various activities offered. Plenty of variety here, with further photo walks, slideshow illustrated talks, a day with the Caversham Road Fire Crew and opportunity to send your 6×4 photographs of Reading to Tanya for the pop-up Exhibition on 8th August.
I really enjoyed spending time at this small Exhibition and looking how each photographer had met the theme of 30 years of photography. Peter Cole was the only one not showing his current work which is very different as you can see from his website.
There was small group of us to begin with, all with connections with the OCA.
It was great to actually meet Tanya in person, talk with her about her life in New York and share some thoughts about distance learning and the OCA. I’ve now been to three Exhibitions involving OCA students and it’s such a different experience from other Exhibitions. In addition to knowing quite a lot about the photographers and following their work, there’s that sense of a shared understanding of what it’s like to be a distance learning student alongside the rest of our daily lives, plus a shared celebration of what’s been and can be achieved.
30th July 2015