Cornwall - Early morning walk opposite St Michael's Mount. June 2017

Cornwall - An early morning walk in June along the beach at Long Rock, opposite St Michael's Mount

London, March 2017

London...An afternoon in the City

New pieces for Runnymede Hotel Spa

 

 

The owners of The Runnymede Hotel near Windsor who commissioned me in 2009 to make 6 pieces, approached me again for 4 new pieces for the refurbished entrance to the hotel spa and cafe area...

 

 
 

Autumn...

As the nights draw in and the days become cooler
Noble trees offer their final show of color
Their warmth shared with us, taking us into Winter
A golden shower of light...

Private Commission of black and white piece...

This piece was made as a black and white print by request for a private installation. Although taken in 2012, this particular piece was not included in my portfolio, but following interest in a black and white piece for a private client, I rediscovered this image and realised its monochrome potential. Perhaps some more monochrome work to follow...

A Palliative Care Arts into Health project...

Launch of the artworks and the book 'Being Here'

 

I have been part of a very successful arts into health project working with palliative care patients. Last week saw the culmination of 6 months' work for the St Giles Arts into Health Project. 6 pieces were installed into the palliative care hospice in Whittington, Staffordshire and the book "Being Here" was launched. The 110 page hardback book was published to co-inside with Dying Matters Week 2014 and was the result of creative input from the creative team, patients and staff at the hospice. The book is essentially a collection of poems, illustrations and photographs but so much more than that. The creative team ( Glen Buglass and Rachel Parker (Walsall Creative Development Team), David Calcutt -poet, Peter Tinkler - artist/illustrator, Ming de Nasty - documentary photographer and myself) carried out workshops at the St Giles Day Hospice on a weekly basis developing a collaborative and innovative arts into health project.

Copies of this hardback book are available for £10 each. Please contact me or St Giles if you would like a copy. Hopefully there will also soon be an option to buy online.

copy of the book 'Being Here'

copy of the book 'Being Here'

 

Above: Copies of the hardback book "Being Here" and the poet David Calcutt reading some of the poems on the launch day

 

A meaningful project celebrating memories

 

Led by a team of two arts into health workers, a poet, two visual artists and a documentary photographer, the creative team decided upon “ Unique People Unique Identities” as an initial title for the project. Although the plan was to make artwork for the interior environment of the hospice and a book, it was from the outset designed to be a collaborative project in which the journey (creative process) would be as significant as the destination (the book and the final artworks on the wall).

 

Black and White portraits by Ming de Nasty

 

An integrated, collaborative arts project

 

Weekly creative sessions were intended to improve people's feeling of wellbeing and by using creative and artistic ways of working, to unlock memories and spark meaningful conversations with people. The creative sessions began as a series of writing and reminiscence sessions, the aim of which was to encourage those who both worked in and attended the Hospice to share their life experiences, the people and places and things that mean something to them, those moments in time past that remain part of a vivid and ever-living present; their fears, their sorrows, their joys. Poetry was the creative medium chosen to embrace and capture these sessions since it has a way of focussing attention on the small details of memory and experience and of bringing them up close, into the here and now, making them new and clear and fresh. The visual artists were able to enrich this creative experience with aesthetic interpretations that both reflected and informed further creative dialogue.

 

Promoting Psychological Wellbeing

 

Both sorrows and joys were shared and discussed during the sessions and there were moments of laughter as well as moments of reflective sadness and contemplation, but the overall ambience was a positive and jubilant one. Reflecting upon the creative sessions, one patient said Whilst we were working together in the sessions, I forgot I had cancer.” This simple sentence, spoken from the heart, gave the whole project a profound sense of meaning for all involved. It was a testament to the importance of psychological wellbeing, in the face of biological challenges.

 

Below are some of the images made for this project. For more images from this project click here

 

copies of the book 'Being Here'

copies of the book 'Being Here'

People at the St Giles hospice getting involved in the workshops

People at the St Giles hospice getting involved in the workshops

Hopwas Woods installed at St Giles

Hopwas Woods installed at St Giles

Cannock Chase Horizon installed

Cannock Chase Horizon installed

Tenbury Wells Hospital

Artworks for a community hospital: Tenbury Wells Hospital, Worcestershire

 

Over a period of 5 months from 2011 - 2012 I have been visiting the Worcestershire/Shropshire landscapes around the town of Tenbury Wells. My brief was to make 2 large works for the new male and female wards in Tenbury Hospital. Working with staff and patient representatives, locations and viewpoints were discussed and a shortlist was made of the best local landmarks and viewpoints. Returning to the area over many months I became familiar with the area and finally settled on two viewpoints to work with for the final two pieces. It was then just a case of returning time and time again until the light was right and then for the magic to happen on the film (which is not easy given the experimental nature of my work). Although each image was made in a matter of seconds, I think there are at least 10 days of driving, walking and waiting behind each one!

Each image was made up to 280 cm by 80 cm and mounted onto aluminium. Installation took place in May 2012...

Film Photography, Long Exposure and Walter Benjamin

The longest ever exposure?

 

Following on from my last blog post which looked at long exposure photography and the writings of Walter Benjamin, I would like to share the work of Michael Wesely, a German photographer who makes incredible exposures which last up to 3 years! His photographs reveal the developments of Berlin, a city which has changed dramatically over the past decades. In just one of Wesely's photographs he shows the destruction of the old and construction of the new, all within a single frame and captured on one piece of photographic film. Michael Wesely has been using his non-digital, film photography process since the 1990's using mostly black and white through to recent years when he has also used colour. From 2001 - 2004 he documented the demolition and reconstruction of Moma (The Museum of Modern Art) in New York.

Changing position of the sun recorded on film

 

Wesely's photographs are far removed from the modern snap-shot and could be said to reinforce Walter Benjamin's notion of 'aura'. They reveal the transitory nature of urban construction, an absence of human life (since we move too much to register on the film!) and at the same time reveal the movement of the earth over the year(s) through the light lines which record the different positions of the sun throughout the seasons.

More about the interesting work by Michael Wesely can be found here:

http://www.wesely.org/wesely/gruppe.php?var=potsdamerplatz

http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/exhibitions/119

 

long exposure film photography    long exposure film photography

Download two photography essays by Walter Benjamin...

 

 Walter Benjamin on Photography

From feedback from my last post, many people were interested to know more about Walter Benjamin so I have posted his two essays on photography for download here. Click this link to download the essays (no registration required) 

http://www.dominicpote.co.uk/walter-benjamin/

The aura of long exposure photography

Long exposure photography and the notion of ‘aura’

When I look at early portraits such as those by David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, I cannot help but feel that they capture an essence, an honesty that the modern snapshot so often fails to achieve. I see a sense of time and what Walter Benjamin referred to as the ‘aura’ of the person. There is a softness in the eyes, simply caused by blinking during long exposure photography and there is an absence of mimics and grimaces since any momentary facial movements could not be captured. So the face is captured in its most natural state in contrast to the modern snap shot which we are all too familiar with –in which we are often captured in unflattering split second mimics.

“The procedure itself caused the subject to focus his whole life in the moment rather than hurrying on past it: during the considerable period of the exposure the subject as it were grew into the picture, in the sharpest contrast with appearances in a snapshot…”

Walter Benjamin, A Short History of Photography published in 1931

aura of long exposure photography
aura of long exposure photography
the aura of long exposure photography
the aura of long exposure photography

Above left: David Octavius Hill with Robert Adamson. Lady Elizabeth Eastlake. c. 1844

Above right: David Octavius Hill (Scotland, 1802—1870) and Robert Adamson (Scotland, 1821—1848), Portrait of a Lady, c. 1845, salted paper print from a calotype paper negative.

Through the dissection of time, time itself is absent

The short exposure enables us to capture 'reality' - or as I might call it, a 'slice of reality' - in detail, but I feel it also removes a dimension of reality - the dimension of time. Time does not stop in our experienced reality and we are not able to stop a fraction of a second in our minds as the camera does. Time by its very nature is continuous. The short exposure reveals to us what we are actually unable to experience with our eyes, but through this dissection of time, time itself is, in most photographs, absent. The long exposure on the other hand allows movement to leave its mark, suggesting the passing of time which is closer to our experience of time.

If, while resting on a summer afternoon, you follow with your eyes a mountain range on the horizon or a branch which casts its shadow over you, you experience the aura of those mountains, of that branch. This image makes it easy to comprehend the social bases of the contemporary decay of the aura. It rests on two circumstances, both of which are related to the increasing significance of the masses in contemporary life. Namely, the desire of contemporary masses to bring things “closer” spatially and humanly, which is just as ardent as their bent toward overcoming the uniqueness of every reality by accepting its reproduction. Every day the urge grows stronger to get hold of an object at very close range by way of its likeness, its reproduction.”

Walter Benjamin – Art in the age of Mechanical Reproduction, 1936

venice long exposure photography
venice long exposure photography

Riva Degli Schiavoni, Venice, 2007

Attempting to capture the aura of a place

“the withering of the aura thus corresponds to the destruction of the depth of subjective experience in modernity.”Walter Benjamin

When I first began taking photographs seriously I was often disappointed when returning from a shoot. Although I may have captured that place technically well and shown in a few images how it looks, I never felt that a photograph captured how it really felt when I was there.

In the same sense that Walter Benjamin wrote about the aura of people in portraits, I feel that landscape too has an aura. I want to capture a feeling of place and for me the obvious approach was to allow more time to be recorded by the camera. When walking through a landscape (or a city) I do not want to stand still and frame a moment but rather to allow the place and my journey through it be recorded on the film.  I hope that through the long exposure onto film and my movement with the camera through a space, time is captured not as a momentary fragment, but as an impression which reveals the aura, the essence of that place.

uk-panoramic-landscape-photography-oxenhope-moor
uk-panoramic-landscape-photography-oxenhope-moor

Oxenhope Moor, Yorkshire - from the Uk Landscapescollection

Read more about David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson:http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artMakerDetails?maker=1293

Read about Walter Benjamin here:http://ceasefiremagazine.co.uk/walter-benjamin-art-aura-authenticity/

View more work from my Venice serieshere

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photography workshops

Photography Workshops and Talks

 

Over the years I have been asked to give talks about my work to various groups of people ranging from school children to the elderly, in places ranging from community centres to corporate offices. I have organized pinhole photography workshops for primary school groups, taught creative photography modules for A-level students and run community engagement arts projects.

students on creative photography workshop with Dominic Pote     photography_workshops_fieldtrip

photography workshop and talk with sixth form students     polaroid pinhole images

Following on from this, I have now decided to offer photography workshops and photography talks which can be booked by the hour, day or as a series of workshops. Rather than offering fixed workshops, I hope to develop the format and content of each workshop/talk depending on the needs and interests of each group.

Follow the link below to download a Pdf document which outlines what I could offer for photography students from Further Education through to Higher Education. I feel that there is a need to connect students of photography to the world of professional practice which awaits them and I hope that I can offer some insights which may help them on their way. Ideally each workshop can be custom designed to suit the needs of each course/student group. Workshop fees are negotiable, depending on number of hours/days/sessions and on any travel and materials required.

www.dominicpote.co.uk/contact/workshops

If you would be interested in arranging a workshop or presentation for your school, company, club or community group, please get in touch.

 

 

Creative Photography and Pinhole Photography workshops for schools, clubs, corporate groups, camera clubs and community groups. Talks and workshops about my fine-art panoramic photography, experimental photography, pinhole photography, landscape photography, non-digital photography, photography field trips, career development workshops for art and photography students, portfolio reviews.

 

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A case study on the benefits of art for hospitals

Art for Hospitals – the healing process

07 Jun

A case study on the benefits of art for hospitals

The relationship between art and therapy has existed since the beginnings of humanity. In ancient times the figure of the healer and artist would often overlap. The shaman in many primitive cultures would play the role of a healer and incorporate art such as dance, visual art, music, etc. in his healing processes. It was believed – actually throughout the whole human history – that soul and body were connected and the attempt to heal the body was not done without an attempt to heal the soul. There is an ancient Roman and Greek proverb: Mens sana in corpore sano (in Greek: Νοῦς ὑγιὴς ἐν σώματι ὑγιεῖ“Healthy spirit in healthy body”). Even in Christianity the first icon-painter, St Luke the Evangelist, was also a doctor. 

Our physical health goes hand in hand with our mental and emotional health. We need to be healthy, but we also need to feel healthy. Art is connected to the human spirit; we are creative beings, whether it is to create or to experience a created work. Art gives us strength, inspiration and a feeling of being alive. All this applies to all kinds of art and creativity in general, but even more so to visual art. Out of the five senses, the sense of vision is the most developed one in humans. Have we not heard the expression: “The eyes are the windows of our minds”?

So while it may seem that the idea of art for hospitals is something new, it is in fact an old concept which has been somewhat abandoned in recent times and only just making a come-back.

“There are ample reminders of art placed in hospitals in previous centuries. William Hogarth‘s 18th-century painting “Pool of Bethesda” still hangs on the grand staircase of Bart’s Hospital. But paintings were often banished from the wards by the post-war trend of brutal minimalism that swept through hospitals and other public buildings. It is only in recent years that hospitals have witnessed a modern renaissance.”­ 
Dr Lee Elliot Major, The Independent, 2008

                                                                                                                            Hogarth’s Painting “The Pool of Bethesda” in the stairwell of Bart’s Hospital, London

 

The Burns Centre, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham – bringing a sense of light and nature into the clinical space

 

 

 Above: before and after artwork installation

 Above: before and after artwork installation

                                                                                                                                               Winter Woodland, 2012                                              

 

 

 

 

artwork-for-hospitals-plaque.jpg

A plaque was made for each piece to identify locations and to encourage people to go and find places for themselves.

 

Cool colours for Burns Centre

 

Colour was an important factor to consider when making work for the Burns Centre. Since many patients are coming in having suffered burns from heat or fire, a cool, soothing colour palette was desired. Thankfully it was winter and I was able to take advantage of the frosty mornings and even some snow on the hills around Birmingham.

 

Psychologists report on impact of artwork in hospital

 

From the early stages of this project a psychologist was involved to assess the improvements made. A survey was carried out before the art was installed and then three months later. Before, staff reported that patients would complain about the blank walls, lack of things to look at and absence of daylight. After the installation of artwork, there was a noticeable difference in the comments from patients and staff, a general consensus of a better feeling.

As a result of the project, comments such as “the rooms were boring and offered little distraction”, coming from patients and staff, were reduced by more than three quarters.

 

Some of the comments recorded in a survey before and after the installation of artwork:

 

Time 1 – prior to artwork installation

 “Blank walls need brightening up”

“Boring, nothing to look at”

 “monotonous”

 “Lack of distraction”

 

 Time 2 – after artwork installation

“It’s a talking point”

“The pictures give a bit or respite from being stuck in a room”

“The pictures have a calming influence on the corridors and reception”

“Patients are walking up to pictures in corridors”

 


In terms of improvements to the clinical environment, the report suggests that as a result of the artwork, patients and staff were beginning to feel more positive about their surroundings. Besides the visual, ‘decorative’ function of my work, I do hope that the presence of my work will also offer spiritual healing to some people, to offer contemplation, to inspire imagination and ultimately to give hope.

When I sometimes receive feedback from patients who contact me, explaining how my work helped them during their stay in hospital, it all seems worthwhile. If art can supplement the healing process, then surely it has a place in our hospitals as it does in our lives.