Thursday, 7 August 2014

Current Conflicts Exhibition

The CurrentConflicts exhibition focuses on the work of six artists and their response to modern warfare through the medium of photography.

Richard Monje
First to arrive was Jamie Simonds, who drove up from London the day before and spent the night in a tent camping near Clitheroe. Jamie was very happy to be greeted by a cup of Lancashire tea after a questionable night’s sleep and then got straight to work. He began by showing me his portrait photographs of the U.S military he came across in Atlanta airport whilst departing for their tour of Afghanistan. He then pulled out Richard Monje’s striking photographs of authentic war bullets that he was hanging on Richards’s behalf.

Next to arrive was Matthew Andrew with his 2 large scale black & white photographs and lastly Olivia Robinson from Nottingham with her beautifully printed photo book. We weren’t able to meet all the artists; however you can still view their work in the gallery or visit their websites to learn more about them.
Jamie and Matthew explained that Les Monaghan started the project and pulled everyone together. The theme came about through the groups’ interest in creating something around current conflicts. Early discussions uncovered that a lot of them had either some family background or encounter with the military and reality of it. The whole point was not to photograph conflict in the standard way as other documentary war photographers had done in the past, but to portray a different viewpoint of conflict.
Christoper Down
Christopher Down

Christopher Down
When asked what they wanted the viewer to gain from the exhibition, Jamie & Matthew spoke about the groups’ interest from one of their first exhibitions in Ipswich. They wanted to see how people felt about contemporary conflict photography, especially as so much of what we see is now mediated and restricted.
‘We are not in the era of Vietnam where photographers would be in the war zone. Our view is much more controlled these days to the point where most of us get our exposure through the news’. Matthew

It was really important to gage what peoples’ general reaction towards the exhibition was and what they thought was going on. One of the group’s main aims was to show the hidden side of conflict.
Jamie’s photos were taken whilst US soldiers were in transit going through the airport. Les’ images focus on military training and survival.

Les Monaghan

Les Monaghan
Olivia’s book portrays a different side to soldiers and how they are seen, she worked on making images from photographs that her husband had taken who is a soldier and currently serving in Afghanistan. Although the exhibition is disparate the conflict angle brings all six artists together to document the home-front and the battleground.
Olivia Hollamby

Olivia Hollamby

Jamie explained that seeing the military wandering around Atlanta airport whilst being grounded due to a storm on his honeymoon was a surreal sight.

Jamie simonds

‘Professionally as a commercial photographer moments like this rarely present themselves. This was too good an opportunity to miss, I’m interested in portraiture, so of course I was going to try and photograph them. I asked them all individually - they were lovely and accommodating and I shot them with my point and shoot camera I was taking on my honeymoon until I had to board my flight. 
Here I was going on my honeymoon which is the best kind of holiday somebody can go on and these soldiers were going on tour with only a fortnight break in 9 months to spend with their loved ones. I hope that resonates with the viewer, imagining going to war and leaving loved ones behind and how that might feel.’
Jamie Simonds

Matthew’s photography is influenced by very early war photography; he references the work of Roger Fenton who documented the Crimean War. Matthew gave us an insight into his creative process; he chooses to shoot on a large 8x10 camera to ensure he captures every detail. He begins by researching interesting locations, places that are built for war game scenes but are constructed around traditional notions of war painting and photography.
Matthew Andrew
What’s interesting is that the people that build these war game sites probably don’t know that they are referencing Roger Fenton photographs of historical battle scenes. These kinds of things are in our cultural memory without us even knowing they're there'                                                                        
Once Matthew has chosen his location he gains access through negotiations and explaining what he intends to do, he then sets up his camera to shoot the images. Using a large camera prevents the image to appear pixelated, he wants the viewer to notice more and more detail the closer they get to the image.
Matthew Andrew

The exhibition hopes to widen or change people’s perception of what they think conflict might be in terms of war and current military activity and how soldiers are represented.
Les Monaghan will be doing an artist’s talk and tour of the exhibition with a question and answer session on Saturday 23rd August 1pm in The ACE Centre Bistro, anyone is welcome to come along.

I hope you get the chance to view this exhibition, it is not to be missed and runs until 29Th August  at Pendle Gallery, The ACE Centre, open Monday – Saturday 10am - 3pm
Thanks for reading,

No comments:

Post a Comment