Saturday, 22 June 2013

FREE RANGE 2013

Ken from the series "The Final Sitting" by Miles Holder

Last Thursday evening, I attended the Private Views of the Final Degree Shows of a number of Universities and Colleges at Free Range held at the Truman Brewery Building in Brick Lane, London. I have been going to Free Range since 2008 when I attended the show by Middlesex University and saw the work displayed by Gavin Phes,  Petra Kubisova and Emma Davies, all of whom have photographed me. This year, I started off with the University of the West of England but I would have missed it if I hadn't got to Brick Lane early and been directed to The Rag Factory by a guy in the street.

The standard of work by the students from Bristol was very high. This was particularly the case with Urte Ursule Sutkute whom introduced herself to me. The other images which took my eye were the simple self-portraits by Kathy Foote and the beautiful pictures of the hands of the victims of Alzheimers by Natalie Morrell. In all three cases, I felt very moved by what I saw. I asked the students if their tutor, Shaun Sobers, was around and, although they expected him to come along, he had not yet arrived. Shaun filmed me last year on Brighton Beach.

From the series "Hands" by Natalie Morrell
I moved on to the main building and there was a lot of good stuff to see. I do want to make a special mention about the young photographer, Miles Holder from UCA Farnham and his amazing series of images under the title "The Final Sitting". I spoke to Miles very briefly. A very unassuming man with an open face which went some way towards explaining how he had persuaded the hospice to advertise his desire to photograph the patients residing there. What is so surprising is that the people in the photographs look so happy. Clearly, they enjoyed the session with Miles and the opportunity to pose for one final photograph. I said to Miles that it must have been a very emotional experience for him. He said that it was and that he was surprised by how affected he was by it.

By this time, I was weaving in and out of different shows and stopping at displays which really caught my eye. These included the stunning "Disclosure" by Alice Flannery (to whom I spoke briefly), the gorgeous landscape by Kaylee Gorman and the beautifully presented series of pictures of gypsy travellers by Sophie Brocks which brought to mind the work of Vanessa Winship.

I talked at some length to Barbara Dixon who was showing her excellent self portraits which she has taken since being diagnosed with cancer. It was interesting to hear how she had used photography to challenge her illness.

On the way out, I bumped into Tichelle Norman and Derrick Kackembo in exactly the same place I had met Derrick the year before and then dashed home, pausing briefly again at The Rag Facory to see if Shaun had yet arrived. He hadn't.

So, lots to see - it is on over this weekend I think so anyone reading this should try to get down there to see what the next generation of young photographers is coming up with. It is not at all bad. It is very good.

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