Yesterday saw me in Birmingham, at their new library, to meet Steve Burke from GRAIN, who was going to review my L3 Body of Work.

Birmingham Library in Paradise, reflected in the HSBC building.

Way back in November, I flew to Manchester and then went by train to Bradford to the OCA study day to see an exhibition and have a portfolio review organised by OCA photography student, Andrew Fitzgibbon. It was great to meet up again with another photography student Allan O’Neill who had attended one of our OCA SW meetings and who had participated in our “Work in Progress” exhibition in 2017.

In our discussions in Bradford, Allan had said that he had worked with GRAIN curator Steve Burke and said that, if I wanted to, he could introduce us so that we could organise a review of my work. Allan had said how easy it was to work with Steve and how he thought we would get on well discussing my work.

Despite Allan’s wonderful reassurances, I approached the meeting with trepidation because I know how subjective photography is, and how defensive I can be if people cannot see what I am trying to say with my work.

Westward view from the balcony of the library.

I need not have stressed at all because it was the best and most constructive experience I have had with my photography work. So much so that I tried to book on FORMAT for another set of reviews more to do with getting ‘my work out there’, as Steve said, than to hear more views about my work. As always with me and technology, there was a glitch in the system and I could not complete the booking. I shall persevered hope that Seb will sort it out!

The summary of the review and my action from it is here:

11 thoughts on “Portfolio review, number 2, in Paradise.

  1. If you are keen to raise some money you could sell the individual cyanotypes or in sets rather than one person buying the quilt. I wonder if some input from an experienced quilter might be needed to help resolve the making issues with the quilt. Perhaps fully making a small set of say three cyanotypes into a mini quilt with the denim might give you the confidence to see whether it’s worth developing the full-size version. I am not sure whether the quilt was more “finished” than when I saw it a few weeks ago? If he doesn’t know much about quilting he might not be able to visualize the finished item, quilts never look right until the final topstitching, backing added & a good press.


    1. Thanks, Karen. I am trying one more avenue – of printing directly onto the large squares. I tried one yesterday & the cyanotype was very feint so I shall try again when I get back from Paris on Sunday. I am getting quite stressed about having lost so much time & that I might not have enough time to do all the other things as well as this. I met a professional quilter just before Christmas who was very excited about it but was going back to Kent & would be here at the end of January. The problem is the aesthetics of it. In Birmingham even I didn’t like what the quilt looked like! I will keep you posted.


  2. What a day you must have had and the feedback is so positive and encouraging. I hope you have already celebrated.
    The Reflection room seems an excellent idea. If Ian isn’t keen on being more public then perhaps another man could read them. Alternatively could you get a photograph of his hand writing a letter as well as his hands doing the tiling. I like the idea of the tiles with writing on them.
    Lots to do and think about and I like the idea of the dance as you weave yourself through all the aspects.


    1. HaHa! The dance was an alternate to ‘journey’ that everybody uses! Yes, it was a brilliant day & I celebrated with a hot choc with a choc liqueur from Hotel Chocolat en route to the station to get the train back home. I will try Ian & see what he says. Thanks for the comments.


      1. Too true. Journey is too vague and we all know that who and what we are determines where we go & what we do so there is a set piece idea in where we land up! Dance is a far more artistic metaphor too!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Anna, there is so much here that I want to comment on but not enough space. How true it is though that art is subjective and how conflicting the advise can be! Good that you have applied for more reviews. This is where our peer reviews for how to implement some of Steve’s suggestions would be valuable too. If we can’t fit in a student led session how about a hangout? Thinking about book designers, those of us who went to the Out of the woods of thought exhibition just before Christmas saw some of Joseph Wright’s hand made books. Joseph is one of the founding members if Inside the Outside and a brilliant photographer as well as publisher and book designer/ maker. He is based in Wiltshire runs workshops and, I understand is very approachable. He may be able to advise you on paper and design. But yes’m wow! And you definitely deserved that chic liqueur on the way home!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Anne. Good idea about the hangout – we could have it on a weekday in the evening too. Shall I put out a message on FB & OCA Discuss to see if there is any take-up? I will definitely be investigating JW – thanks for the info.


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