Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Roger Palmer

One of the great advantages of being at GSA is the access you get to other artists, visiting lecturers and so on.  Last week Roger Palmer came to give a talk at the Friday Event - one that I missed due to work commitments (damn that mortgage!)  Luckily, he came back to take part in a question and answer session with students within Fine Art Photography - and it was so inspiring.

Apart from his obvious experience - despite living in Glasgow he is a Professor of Fine Art at Leeds University and was previously a lecturer at GSA, co-founding the MFA here - I was really drawn to his approach to his work.  Firstly, the majority of his images were in black and white, taken with a 35mm camera and a 50mm lens - something which you don't really see much of here.  (I did ask him if part of the reason for his success in this medium could be because of his reputation, colour is certainly seen to be much more contemporary at least at GSA).  He talked about having a system - 1 camera, 1 lens, 1 film, 1 developer, paper etc, something P has encouraged me to do and which I try although I don't think I've gotten all the elements right - yet.  He also prints the images himself and I really liked the mid-tones he creates.  His work reminded me very much of the New Topographer's work, of which I'm a big admirer.

And secondly, the way he talked about his work in a cultural context.  Despite the fact that he travels quite a bit, he stated that he's not interested in the countries or the culture within them as such, he is interested in the similarity of the spaces; he has nothing to say about [the country], but he has everything to say about photography.  This was an important point for me in terms of the work I like and look at - see my previous post.

But actually, what his talk made me really want to do was go out and take black and white photographs again!  I'm so caught up in working for this degree that going back to where I started has quite an appeal.  The idea that you also have so much more control over the whole process of your images and that you can do it all at home (at least I can/could) is quite an attractive thought at times.  I love doing this degree but it's hard work and it's made my life quite complicated; sometimes it would be nice to go back to having a simple life again!


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