Blogs

Exhibition Video

Our current exhibition 'Lewis Baltz with works by Carl Andre and Charlotte Posenenske' is open until the 9th July, so if you've not had the chance to visit you still have time.

We are delighted to share with you a video blog by our current Marketing Assistant, Paige Hughes, giving you the opportunity to have a look around our exhibition with Director Ben Harman. We also have exhibtion interpretation material availble to download from the exhibition page as well as a free limited edition downloadable book published by co-curator Montabonel and partners. 

Introduction by Ben Harman and new essays by Nicolas de Oliveira, Nicola Oxley and Sebastien Montabonel. Click on the link below for a PDF version of the publication:

Lewis Baltz with works by Carl Andre and Charlotte Posenenske 

Director's Video Blog - Lewis Baltz with works by Carl Andre and Charlotte Posenenske from Stills Edinburgh on Vimeo.

Graduate Blog - Nic Rue

Huge congratulations to all you new photography graduates!
I hope that you are hugely proud of what you have worked so hard to achieve, and I’ll bet that you are also looking forwards to your freedom. I’m a recent(ish) graduate myself so I understand that the excitement of finishing up and entering the world can also be a little tinged with doubt about what lies ahead. So I have been speaking to some recent, and not so recent, photography graduates to try and gather together some of the great advice that they have been given and have to offer from their own experience. Hopefully you will find it useful!

Find your way.

You have just spent four years learning how to succeed in an academic environment, working in the world is different! You are suddenly working without the structure of set projects, deadlines and grades. You no longer have grades measuring your success or failure or externally set projects and deadlines to meet. It can be difficult to make the transition to your own practice.

This is a time for you to really think about what motivates you, how you work best, and what you need to do in order to balance money and your own practice. If you want to balance commercial photography with your own work, do it! If you need to protect your practice and work a different kind of job while making photographic work, then do that! The ‘right way’ is the way that works for you, now. This might not be anyone else’s way, and it might not be your way forever.

‘Leap into the Void’ by Yves Klein (Harry Shunk and Janos Kender), 1960Graduating can feel quite like this: ‘Leap into the Void’ by Yves Klein (Harry Shunk and Janos Kender), 1960

Keep (or create) a peer group.

Having regular contact with people who are facing the same struggles as you are can be immensely reassuring. It also opens up the chance for collaborative working and peer review which can be so valuable. As I talked about above, suddenly making your own work free from briefs and critiques can be a relief but it can also be really scary. You have to come face to face with your own motivations for making work and your own ability to judge the quality of what you produce. Having people around you who you can ask for advice and feedback can be a great motivator.

Figure out where you fit.

Then ignore it. 

Figuring out where your practice fits within the wider world of photography can be a great way of deciding who to target with your portfolio, and which publications and awards to submit to. At the same time, it can be when the boundaries between photographic practices are pushed that really interesting projects and collaborations can occur. 

Embrace opportunities.

Don’t be too frightened about whether it’s the ‘right thing’ or ‘good for your career’. If you are offered, or find, an opportunity with a very clear benefit to you, embrace it. 

Keep making work.

And if you don’t…

Don’t dismiss photography.

Some of you may find yourselves drifting away from photography. Having a break doesn’t mean that your practice is over. Maybe you will come back to it, or maybe you will use the skills that you learnt in order to do something else equally fulfilling. Don’t think that just because you have had a break you will have forgotten everything. If the desire strikes you then pick up a camera (any camera, the camera in your phone is also a camera). 

Nic Rue - Resurrection of the dead

From ‘Resurrection of the dead’ made after I graduated and 
submitted to the 
Jill Todd Photographic Award last year.

Be generous with your support.

While it can sometimes feel like there is only one opportunity out there and if you’re not part of it, you’ve missed your chance, I don’t believe that life works like that. It’s great to be driven and have a healthy grip on your competitive streak, but remember that often success drives wider success. So someone from your course, your town, or in your network, doing well, will benefit everyone around them. That’s the way that courses, areas, groups of people get a reputation for being excellent practitioners and a reputation like that will generate more opportunities for everyone around them. So be generous with your support and promotion of the people around you, it will benefit them, and it will benefit you too.

Believe in yourself.

You got this.

Nic Rue - Project Assistant
BA(Hons) Photography, Edinburgh Napier University, 2015.

 

YOUNG PEOPLE'S MASTERCLASSES

- Are you aged 15 – 19?
- Can you shoot a roll of 35mm film? (you don’t need to have your own camera – we can provide one!)
- Have you made at least one print in a darkroom before?
- Are you keen to learn new darkroom skills?

Stills Young People’s Masterclasses are aimed at those who have got a little bit of experience and would like to get back into the darkroom to improve their skills. We’d like to encourage all young photography enthusiasts to take part in our new Masterclasses so if you answered ‘yes’ to the questions above, read on!

 

Colour Darkroom Photography, Saturday 28th May, 11am – 5pm

This Masterclass will introduce you to the delights making colour analogue prints. For this workshop you will:

- Be given a small project to inspire you. We need you to arrive with a shot roll of colour film. We can provide this for you as well as the loan of a camera if needed!
- Spend the day in Stills where you will be taught how to process your colour film and how to use our enlargers and colour printer to make analogue prints that you can take home on the day.

We don’t expect anyone to have colour darkroom experience – this will be new to most people!

 

B&W Darkroom Photography, Windows To The Soul: Portraiture & Printing,  Saturday 4th June, 11am – 5pm

This masterclass is designed to encourage you to make a series of prints based on a set brief. You will be guided through printing techniques with our tutor on hand to advise how to get the best out of your photographs. During this workshop you will:

- Be given a project to work on. You need to arrive with a shot roll of black & white film. We can provide this for you as well as the loan of a camera if needed!
- Process your film.
- Spend the day in the darkroom making prints from your negatives, concentrating on bringing out the best tones and helping build your confidence using Stills darkrooms.

Don’t worry – we are not expecting anyone to be experts! You will have a whole day to practice new techniques and build your confidence, so even if you are unsure about your level of experience you should still get in touch.

 

And there is even more good news – these workshops won’t cost you a thing! We’ll even provide some tea and biscuits! 

There are limited places available, so what are you waiting for? Email or call Claire, engagement@stills.org, 0131 622 6200 to book your place on one, or both of these masterclasses today.  

Colour photography examples  colour photography darkroom

 

The Young People’s Masterclasses are made possible through generous funding from Cashback for Creativity.

Volunteer Blog

At Stills we have a fantastic team of front-of-house volunteers who generously give up a few hours each week to support Stills and welcome visitors into the space. As a valued part of our team we invited our volunteers to write a blog post for us, sharing their thoughts and experiences of being at Stills. We’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to two of our team, Dave Molnar and Yi-Chieh Chiu who discuss their relationship with Stills and the similarities between Lewis Baltz’ landscapes and the touristification of Edinburgh. 


 

I came to Edinburgh to attend Edinburgh College of Art and earn my MFA. I am an artist and photographer. Even before my arrival here I had heard of Stills, having researched galleries and photo-related organizations in the city. In considering what to write about I keep coming back to how rather singular Stills is, but I can’t quite stress it enough. I have worked at a similar place in my home state in the US, and know of several others, but there are not many. To have an all-encompassing center for education, display, access, supplies, books, resources, artists’ talks and events; it is something that should not be taken for granted. The staff is small, but their dedication and effort is incredible. I have always been more than happy to volunteer my time, effort and knowledge to making Stills the best place in Edinburgh to be (here comes the photo pun) “exposed” to photography!

Stills is a very unique place. There are few organizations like it in the world, and it is truly something to be proud of in the photographic community of Edinburgh, Scotland, and the entire UK. If you’ve never been, go. See whatever show they have on at the moment, take a class, browse the library… or just have a cup of tea and chat up the staff! Stills is a gem of a resource, and not one to be missed. I’m grateful for my time here, and only wish I could stay, and continue to be involved. I think they know how important they are to the community, but just humbly go about doing their thing, so I thought I would write a little bit about just how special they really are.

Dave Molnar, Minnesota, USA

 


 

Lewis Baltz and Edinburgh

When I saw Lewis Baltz’ photograph of a Chevrolet car in this exhibition (Monterey, 1967), I couldn’t help but think of the Dinah Shore Chevy Show shown in 1956. At the end of this television show, Dinah Shore with a joyous tune encourages the audiences to “see the USA in your Chevrolet.” Dinah Shore’s message is extremely optimistic and American: for her, the American life is complete with a Chevy, a vehicle which has largely expanded their world.

Although the TV hostess implies that Americans have conquered and dominated nature, the Landscape in the show looks surprisingly awe-inspiring and magnificent. As a matter of fact, Chevrolet even published photo albums specifically about the astonishing natural environment of America which looks uncontaminated by human activities.

Lewis Baltz, however, looks at the American landscape differently. He is critical. He is anti-picturesque, iconoclastic, and demythologising. He turns his attention to the bland environments created by developers and he chooses an impersonal and cold style to present flattened images of desolate commercial and residential spaces. 

1961 Chevrolet Commercial With Dinah Shore

During my time invigilating in the gallery I have received divided opinions towards Baltz’ works. While some visitors are fascinated by Baltz’ unusual perspective, others find his works lacking direct engagement with the viewer. For them, his works are tasteless, forensic, and surveillance-like; these are not the type of landscape photographs they expect to see in Scotland.

Although these viewers express a rather negative response, their response in fact demonstrates that Baltz’ photographic intention is successful. It also indicates that the presence of Lewis Baltz in Edinburgh is significant at a time when Edinburgh faces a critical moment much like America in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Like Baltz in 1960’s and 70’s America, we are now surrounded by many constructions that will change our landscape permanently. The high streets have been inundated with shops dedicated to the tourism industry, and as a result, those streets have become lifeless - they are irrelevant to the life of people who live in Edinburgh. Moreover, Edinburgh City witnesses the prosperity of estate developments and building projects, some of which have put the city’s status as an UNESCO site in danger. The construction projects of hotels and student accommodation on Calton Hill, Cowgate, Causewayside, Leith Walk, and Haymarket will erase parts of the city that are historically important but which do not fit comfortably with the typical image of Scotland. These projects will change the cityscape in a destructive and irreversible way. For people who come from abroad, Edinburgh has long been equated with images of the Scottish identity, Scottish mythology, and Scottish Enlightenment. Nevertheless, those images have been used superficially and commercially to promote the latest developments which are imposing the most harmful impact upon the city.

Lewis Baltz’ works are not jolting and entertaining. His works undermine the American myth and show our complacency that has built a trap for ourselves. After seeing this exhibition, I contend that an investigation like Baltz’s has to be carried out to examine the damaged spaces of Edinburgh before it becomes too late.

 ‘Lewis Baltz with works by Carl Andre and Charlotte Posenenske’, Stills: Centre for Photography 2016. Photograph by Alan Dimmick

Yi-Chieh Chiu

Chiu, Yi-Chieh comes from Taiwan. He studied Classics until 2014 when he moved from Chicago to Dundee to join his partner, an Irishman in Scotland. He is now learning photography, printmaking, and Italian. He is also volunteering at Stills, a wonderful institution to work for. He very much admires John Thomson, a Victorian photographer from Edinburgh who had photographed Taiwan in 1870’s when this Pacific island was largely neglected by the Chinese Empire. Chiu, Yi-Chieh hopes he can make some contributions to the country of John Thomson by means of photography. 

More News

Resource Blog - PhotoLondon 2016

Photo London 2016

I’ve just returned from an exhausting, (but very stimulating!) trip to Photo London 2016 and the various off-site exhibitions running alongside.

With it being just the second year of the fair and not having attended last year, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the venue of Somerset House is a spectacular backdrop for a vast fair of nearly 100 commercial galleries, a selection of curated exhibitions and a programme of talks and panel discussions.

After stepping off the train at Kings Cross into pouring rain, I arrived drenched to the first talk of the fair by Richard Learoyd in conversation with Frish Brandt (President of Fraenkel Gallery, who represent Leayroyd). This turned out to be a great start, with a really open and refreshing talk about his approach and motivations for making work. I also caught a talk by Nadav Kander which traced his work through the years and presented the new Thames Estuary work he was showcasing at Flowers Gallery.

Day 2 saw a trip to The Photographers Gallery, where I was really pleased to discover that the show Double Take: Drawing and Photography was showing (on until 3 July), featuring some amazing work by László Moholy-Nagy, Běla Kolářová, Jiří Thýn and Richard Forster amongst others. It was also a good chance to see the Deutsch Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2016 too – my money is on Trevor Paglen this year!The Photographers Gallery

A quick walk back to Somerset House (with a Louis Theroux celeb-spot to boot!) to catch Katy Grennan in conversation with Phillip Prodger, followed by an honest, funny, and almost confrontational conversation between Mischka Henner and Philip Gefter.

Day 3 began at Beaconsfield Contemporary Art, with a tour of their beautiful, atmospheric gallery space by Marcel Feil, the deputy director of Artistic Affairs at Foam (Amsterdam). Beaconsfield have partnered with Foam to present Foam Talent: shaping the future of contemporary photography, displaying the work of 21 artists under the age of 35. This proved a fascinating and in-depth look at some of the best new photography, and highlights included Justin James Reed, Tom Callemin, Heikki Kaski, Cristian Vium and Manon Wertenbroek.

Across the river at Tate Britain, the exhibition Painting with Light brought together examples of work highlighting the relationship and influence these two mediums (and their respective practitioners) have on each other. The first room in particular had a strong Scottish representation with some beautiful works by Hill and Adamson, and other photography heavyweights such as Julia Margaret Cameron, PH Emerson and Alvin Langdon Coburn completing a memorable show.

I spent the remainder of the day exploring the other galleries and exhibitions at Somerset House: the curated exhibition Twelve by Craigie Horsfield was a welcome haven of calmness featuring a selection of his epic, yet quiet and contemplative portraits. The images were stunning, but it was his writings which I found to be surprisingly beautiful. There was also a great opportunity to learn about the work of Sergey Chilikov through the exhibition Photoprovocations. Chilikov was a contemporary of Boris Mikhailov, and emerged in the USSR in the 1970’s, (incidentally it was his image that was used for the cover of Beirut’s The Gulag Orkestar album!).

Other highlights from the fair included Yossi Milo, (presenting some exquisite work by Alison Rossiter), Bruno V. Roels at Gallery Fifty One, Lucien Hervé and Malike Sidibé at Galerie du jour agnès b. and Rolf Gallery from Buenos Aires, who were exhibiting work by Mariano Zuzunaga, Facundo de Zuviría, Marcos López and Humberto Rivas – overall probably my favourite presentation at the fair.

Chilikov    Zuzunaga    siskind

Day 4 was my last chance to catch “everything else” before I headed back North, so began with a trip to the Barbican, where the Martin Parr-curated exhibition Strange and Familiar was on. I’d read a little about the exhibition beforehand and its premise of ‘Britain as revealed by International Photographers’, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the range, depth and level of the photographers involved. Moving from a room full of Henri Cartier-Bresson images, to a room of Robert Frank, then Paul Strand, Sergio Larrain, Gary Winogrand, Rineke Dijkstra… you get the scale of this show! A name I wasn’t familiar with though was Shinro Ohtake, who’s presentation of hundreds of small-scale pictures was an enjoyable treat.

offprintFrom the Barbican I visited Tate Modern to see the Performing for the Camera exhibition. Beginning with a strong selection of classics by Charles Ray, Yves Klein and Aaron Siskind, this exhibition ticks all the boxes and includes a wide range of wonderful photographers, yet I found it somehow didn’t quite deliver the overall ‘wow-factor’ I’d anticipated. 

Filling half of the Turbine Hall was Offprint London - the independent publishing fair – featuring a vast number of stalls and some amazing photobooks. I was slightly overwhelmed by the selection on offer, but it’s definitely something I’ll head back to next year if I have more time.

I concluded my trip with a panel discussion between Hannah Starkey and Sophy Rickett, chaired by Alison Nordström, which provided an invigorating and inspiring end to the day. 

I got on the train back to Edinburgh feeling as though I’d had a quick, sharp shock of both Photography and London. Ready for a breather, but excited about the wonderful possibilities of the medium.

Evan Thomas
Technical Manager

 

Images (top to bottom, left to right): PhotoLondon 2016 at Somerset House, Jiří Thýn at The Photographers Gallery, Sergey Chilikov, Mariano Zuzunaga, Aaron Siskind, Offprint London, Turbine Hall, Tate Modern.

Engagement Blog

The Lewis Baltz, Carl Andre and Charlotte Posenenske exhibition has been open for two weeks now and I'm finding myself making up excuses to spend more time in the gallery than usual.

Lewis Baltz holds a special place in my heart. Every now and again we stumble across a catalyst that ignites something within us, and one of my ‘stumbles’ was over a body of work by Lewis Baltz. When at a crossroads, after a failed attempt studying Philosophy, I came across his work between trips to the job centre and signing up for an A-Level in photography. The deceptive simplicity of his imagery sparked my latent inner photographer and sent me on a photographic path that has brought me to Stills, where, jaw-dropped, I get to enjoy his work in the flesh. 

Alas, I cannot spend all day in the gallery as we have a full house of Tasters to deliver which will allow you to further explore the themes in the exhibition.

Our exhibition tasters will be led by artist David Grinly, where we will navigate Edinburgh’s streets and explore methods for using architectural imagery to convey certain viewpoints.

For the younger audience we are linking up with Children’s Art Week to host an afternoon of photogram construction, using the textures and industrial materials present in the exhibition to inspire our prints. 

  Baltz Photogram

For those interested in exploring the themes in the exhibition and creating your own photographic response we have created a workshop to encourage you to explore architectural developments in your local area.

Suitable for all ages, individuals or groups, we would love to see the photographs you take. Simply tag them on Twitter @StillsEdinburgh 

Download workshop here.

 

In other news we have had the pleasure of working with the Banyan project at the Multi Cultural Family Base who are hosting a relaunch and Art Sale at Out of the Blue Drill Hall on Tuesday 24th May. We wish them all the best with the auction, especially as some of our Resource Users have kindly donated work.

We are talking to Glasgow Women’s Library and Young Sahliya about an exciting project based around our future Jo Spence exhibition and are in partnership talks with Luminate Festival for this year’s Photography Challenge. As they say - watch this space!

 

A hive of activity leading up to Summer will keep us all busy, but if you need to contact me,  you'll find me in the gallery, probably being warned for the 100th time to take a step back from the prints.

 

 

Claire Cochrane
Engagement Producer

 

Art Sale Poster

 

 

 

 

 

Director's Blog

We are delighted to kick off our new staff and volunteer blogs with an insight to Director, Ben Harman's musings on the past couple of weeks.

A friend of mine once self-published a zine with the deliberately playful subtitle: Yesterday’s News Tomorrow. I like the way that these words could describe the enduring impact of some art from the past and the phrase has been on my mind over the last couple of weeks in the lead-up to the launch of our new exhibition at Stills: Lewis Baltz with works by Carl Andre and Charlotte Posenenske.

Whilst the display is primarily a showcase of three series of photographic works by Lewis Baltz, it is intended to locate his practice within the context that he preferred, that of contemporary art, rather than a more limited, medium-specific context of photography. Radical is not too strong a word to use for the photographs, sculpture, installation and works on paper in our exhibition despite the fact that some of the objects are more than fifty years old. 

Working with the rest of the Stills team as well as various lenders and the exhibition co-curator, Sebastien Montabonel, it has been a pleasure to help get the exhibition installed and open. This is a timely return of Baltz’s work to Scotland after a break of exactly forty years. Appropriately he was included in Recent American Still Photography at the Fruitmarket Gallery in 1976, the first exhibition organized by the Scottish Photography Group who went on to establish Stills in 1977.

Over the last week I also had the opportunity to think about Stills’ history during the installation of a display for Filmhouse, Edinburgh. Running for one month and timed to coincide with the Photography on Film programme at Filmhouse, our display in the café and adjacent corridor includes twenty Stills exhibition posters dating from 1978 to the present day as well as recently produced photographs from a series titled Alva by the Edinburgh-based photographer David Grinly. So much of the last couple of weeks have been about looking back in order to look forwards, taking inspiration from the past in order to make exciting plans for the future. All this reminds me of Man Ray’s brilliant comment about being asked what it was like to be ahead of his time:

I’m of my time, you are behind the times.

 

Ben Harman, Director, Stills

Installation shot

The installation in progress last week with photographs by Lewis Baltz in the foreground

 

Charlotte Poseneske

A work by Charlotte Posenenske. Unpacked, assembled and waiting to be installed.


Filmhouse installation

Installation view of Stills’ exhibition at Filmhouse, Edinburgh



 

 

   

 

 

 

 

Be Inspired in 2016

We still have a daunting number of dark days until Spring, so until the equinox comes along to brighten our lives why not #beinspired to learn, explore and discover events at Stills and beyond.

Upcoming events at Stills include;

ARTIST TALK: Dan Holdsworth
THURSDAY, 17 MARCH 2016 6.00PM

SCREENING & ARTIST TALK: 'Lure of the Lost' Anthony Schrag with Stuart Armitt
WEDNESDAY, 23 MARCH 2016 6 - 7.30pm

 

Image: Spacial Object no.17, Spatial Objects (2015) Dan Holdsworth Courtesy the artist.

 

 
A long list of Stills coursesweekend workshops and Project days are available to book now. What are you waiting for – take the opportunity to develop skills that you have been eager to learn or brush up on.  

 

   

If absorbing, chilling-out and studying is more your thing then why don’t you come and visit our exhibitions followed by a brew in our comfy library?

The Joseph McKenzie and Photographs from the Margaret Morris Collection exhibition is on display until 9 April 2016.

 
     
Why not check out our friends at Streetlevel in Glasgow. They have a great looking programme of exhibitions, talks and events to help keep inspiration flowing through the short days.  

We are spoiled for choice in Edinburgh if you are looking to enhance creative skills. Have you checked out Edinburgh PrintmakersEdinburgh Sculpture Studios and Process Studios range of courses. It’s not a question of should you do a course, but a question of which courses to do!

A fantastic way to start the year and #beinspired!

For other ways to discover what is happening in photography in Stills and beyond why not follow us on Twitter @StillsEdinburgh
   

 

Stills @ Edinburgh Art Fair

We are looking forward to joining the 11th Edinburgh Art Fair from 13 - 15th November this week, with exhibiting artists Caroline Douglas, David Grinly and Evan Thomas.

Open daily from 11am

For more info visit: www.artedinburgh.com  

Jill Todd Photographic Awardees Announced

CONGRATULATIONS to this years Jill Todd Photographic Awardees!

Winners (in alphabetical order):  

Matt Hay
Alan Knox
Mhairi Law 

Highly Commended: 

Sekai Macheche 
James Parker
Jill Quigley
Nic Rue
Sam Wood 
Heather Yates. 

Awards will be made during the Private View at Stills on the evening of the 6th November. 

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