Joshua Turner, A Seat in the Shade, 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

Joshua Turner: Scholarship Year in Review – 2018/19

What projects have you done?

Starting the year off with an attempt at crowdfunding to fund the publication of my degree work Flags. This was a really useful process as I learnt a lot about funding of this type, and I made a lot of useful connections. The most useful part of this process was the reflection that was necessary to present a clear project proposal, this reflection taught me a lot about the work that I hadn’t previously considered.

After the unsuccessful crowdfunding I went straight in to working on my current ongoing project Our Summer (working title) which focuses on exploring the tensions of the transitional period between childhood and adulthood, with a particular focus on how these socio-political issues can be manifest within landscapes. My main interest as a practitioner is of the relationship between the individual and the landscape, contemplating the effects each have on the other. Our Summer is in some ways a figurative sequel to Flags, yet it feels much more refined. I have chosen to adopt a long-form approach to this work as it suits my meditative processes in both how I think about the body of work and the equipment I use to create it. My approach includes contemplating literature that is in some way reflective of the socio-political intricacies of being a child, especially in the context of the adult world of responsibility. I will continue to develop this work until I think it is ready to start being moulded into a photobook for submission to publishers.

I had the pleasure of visiting Venice for a month as part of the steward-research fellowship with the British Council. During my time in Venice I observed how individual psychology seemed to reflect the ecological issues that are at the forefront of local campaigning. In a project called Catch Your Breath I photographed the various instances of people who adopted space to take a moment to relax, away from the heat and density of people within a city that seems to be bursting at the seams. I plan to make this project into a limited run artist book, the photographs displayed on a foldout map, accompanied by an essay which delves into the anthropomorphising of a landscape in an attempt to represent the urgency of the ecological issues of Venice.

I have also spent more time writing this year, continuing to write for Redeye (The Photography Network) whilst also being published on The Double Negative for an essay reflecting on a touring exhibition.

What exhibitions or events have you been involved with?

I haven’t been involved in much this year as it has been a year dedicated to developing my practice. I’m pleased to say I have got events that are planned, such as a solo show penciled in for February 2020 at The Old Courts in Wigan. I am also planning a member led event for Redeye which will revolve around a contemplation of our interaction with landscape, how can we create a reading of a location that is informed by our individuality? As I mentioned previously, I got a fellowship in Venice for a month to work at the Biennale, from which I have a new body of work and plans for a group exhibition.

Three things that you’ve learnt:

  1. I have become much more aware of art both as a practice and a way of expressing the intricacies of life. Before the scholarship I tended to only look for photography exhibitions, but now I feel much more engaged with all types of work.
  2. Failing is great. Of course it is good to be successful in artistic endeavours, but some of the experiences that I have learnt most from are when I put everything I had into a project and it failed. The point of failure allows you to reflect. Often you have nothing to lose, so even failure can be beneficial when it enables you to take a step back from your normal practice.
  3. Writing is so beneficial. Whether it’s to make a list of intended aims for a day or to speculatively reflect on life. It can be so useful to stop what you’re doing and take the time to be with your thoughts, both for the ongoing development of projects and general mental health.

What’s the most surprising thing that you’ve done?

Get the opportunity to work as an exhibition steward in Venice. I applied with a lot of doubt as I didn’t think I’d even be considered because of my heavily photographic background. The experience has vastly widened my perspective and awareness of art.

What’s the most significant development in your practice/piece of work that you’ve made?

Embracing the freedom to be poetic and expressive with the imagery that I make. Towards the end of the degree the imagery I was making were very literal interpretations of the locations I was interested in. As I develop thought around Our Summer I have found that the imagery I make forms a gesture towards the subject I’m exploring, to me it represents certain qualities whilst to others the reading may differ. I may explore a deeply personal subject, whilst the expressive nature of the work as a whole will be accessible to a wider audience, not just those who have had a similar experience to myself. I have also found my influences to be expanding from photography and film, it is now heavily based in literature and expanding to poetry.