Over the course of the year, current MA student and past Graduate Scholarship recipient Lizzie King, and socially-engaged photographer Gwen Riley Jones have been working together on Sustaining Photography.
Sustaining Photography is a collaborative project to connect and engage students at the University with sustainable photographic processes. Lizzie and Gwen have been working together throughout the year to grow produce in the Community Growing Space and explore how these can be used to create plant-based alternatives to traditional photographic methods, which use harmful chemicals.
An exhibition showcasing the collaborative artwork Lizzie and Gwen have created during the project so far is now on display in the University’s Community Growing Space. Alongside the artwork, you can see the produce being grown, and find recipes they have developed for the plant-based photographic methods they have used to make the work.
Feeling Inspired? You can now get involved in a series of events being held as part of the wider Sustaining Photography exhibition. The events programme includes artist talks from Edd Carr and Tamsin Green, photography workshops, and portfolio reviews for current students. You can find the full details of each event here.
The University of Salford Art Collection is delighted to announce Mishka Henner as the first artist-in-residence with Energy House 2.0, in partnership with Open Eye Gallery and Castlefield Gallery.
Manchester-based, internationally renowned artist Henner will spend 18 months at the new state of the art research facility, developing new work on themes of the climate crisis, net zero research, and the future of housing. He will work alongside leading scientists, specialists, researchers and industry partners as well the wider university community; considering ‘the different ways we can see energy, and how climate catastrophe haunts our present condition’.
With two full-sized detached houses inside a large environmentally-controllable chamber – capable of simulating wind, rain, snow, solar radiation and extreme temperatures – the unique Energy House 2.0 facility, part-funded by the European Research Development Fund (ERDF), is a world-leading research hub, testing the latest in carbon-reducing technology. Launched in January 2022, it is currently testing full size houses by national housebuilders Bellway Homes and Barratt Developments, with construction solutions manufacturer Saint-Gobain.
This residency builds on the success of a pilot residency programme at Energy House 1, in collaboration with Open Eye Gallery which saw photography duo McCoy Wynne create a series of photographs which have since been toured to galleries in the North West.
Professor Richard Fitton, Energy House:
“Following our recent completion of the McCoy Wynne project we could not wait to get started on a new project with the Art Collection team. Following a very competitive process we are excited to welcome a local, but world renowned artist, Mishka Henner for an 18 month placement. We are looking to Mishka to provide some world leading and provocative new work.”
Mishka Henner, artist:
“Energy House 2.0 is a unique monument to human ingenuity in the face of climate catastrophe. As an artist, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity of working closely with scientists and engineers to reflect on how we approach one of the great challenges of our time.”
Lindsay Taylor, Curator, University of Salford Art Collection:
“We are thrilled to have Mishka join our team. We see this as an opportunity to support Mishka’s artistic development whilst engaging the university community in debate around climate change. This is our third collaborative residency with Open Eye Gallery.”
Mishka Henner, born in Brussels in 1976, lives in Manchester and works internationally. He produces books, films, photographic and sculptural works that reflect on cultural and industrial infrastructures – with a focus on the digital terrain and subjects of cultural and geo-political interest. His work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Centre Pompidou, Paris and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
Mishka was selected from an open call in Winter 2022. The residency, in partnership with Open Eye Gallery and Castlefield Gallery, will be showcased at LOOK Photo Biennial in Liverpool in 2024, Castlefield Gallery in 2025, and on campus at a future date.
A second residency opportunity is now open for applications by 9am on 24th April – open to artists working in any media except photography. Click here for full details.
Mishka is a visual artist born in Brussels in 1976 and living in Manchester, UK. His varied practice navigates through the digital terrain to focus on key subjects of cultural and geo-political interest. He produces books, installations, films, photographic, and sculptural works that reflect on cultural and industrial infrastructures in a process involving extensive documentary research combined with the meticulous reconstruction of imagery from materials often sourced online. This material has included satellite imagery, intellectual property patents, text databases, generative adversarial networks, webcams, and sound archives amongst others. His works have featured at MoMA, New York, the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and the Photographers’ Gallery, London, and are in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., Arts Council England Collection, and The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), amongst others.
Launched in February 2022, Energy House 2.0 is a unique research facility, with two environmental chambers each able to accommodate two full sized detached houses. The research team can recreate a variety of environmental conditions – from extreme temperatures (-20˚C to +40˚C) to simulate wind, rain, snow, and solar radiation – in order to test out the latest innovations in the built environment. The £16m facility, part-funded by the European Research Development Fund (ERDF), is the largest facility of its type and plays a key role in accelerating progress towards low carbon and net zero housing design building upon the success of the original Energy House Laboratory which opened in 2012.
Open Eye Gallery is a photography organisation based in Liverpool, UK, working worldwide. They produce exhibitions, long-term collaborative projects, publications, festivals, and university courses — locally and worldwide. They welcome over 85,000 visitors to the gallery every year, over 200,000 to projects in other venues, and many more to the online spaces. They proactively take risks to spark crucial conversations and enable creative expression. Open Eye Gallery takes a lead on socially engaged photography nationally. Bringing different voices, photographers and communities together, they establish projects where the collaborative process is just as important as the final product. openeye.org.uk
Castlefield Gallery is a contemporary art gallery and artist development organisation. Established in 1984, they’ve led the way in artist development for almost 40 years. They provide creative and career development, exhibition opportunities and commissions for artists and independents. Working from galleries in Manchester, off-site, online and in the public realm, they create long-lasting impacts in the Manchester city region, North West of England and beyond. Their national and international activities focus on artist exchange. Castlefield Gallery’s public and participation programmes provoke new ways of thinking, bringing together artists, creatives, communities and audiences to explore the art and issues of the time. They believe when artists and communities come together, they can help shape a better world.
They support more than 250 Castlefield Gallery Associates and a host of creatives through person-centred development programmes. Castlefield Gallery New Art Spaces provide affordable making and project space in the North West, including on the high street. They are a home for artists and creatives. They are advocates for what they believe in: the power of new art. They make new art happen.
Ryan Gander OBE is Castlefield Gallery’s Artist Patron. Castlefield are a registered charity, supported by Arts Council England and Manchester City Council.
Back in May 2022, Socially Engaged Photographer in Residence Gwen Riley Jones wrote the following blog, reflecting on her meetings and conversations with members of Salford Youth Council. Gwen met with Salford Youth Council throughout 2022, connecting with the young people, using the Art Collection as a catalyst for conversations and activities, and working on several projects with the Youth Council. You can find more details about Gwen’s work throughout her residency here.
At the culmination of her residency, Gwen’s work with the Salford Youth Council has been captured in our latest exhibition on campus. ‘Some Days I Feel Triangle’ continues in the New Adelphi Exhibition Gallery until April 28th 2023. We are sharing this blog ‘from the vaults’ with you now because it is from the discussions with members of Salford Youth Council captured here that the exhibition draws its name, and many of these early ideas about how art can be a tool for expression and wellbeing underpin Gwen’s work with the Youth Council.
For all the details on Some Days I Feel Triangle at the New Adelphi Exhibition Gallery, click here.
I love the chats that we have at Youth Council, the group are so intelligent, honest and open. I am always blown away by the insights they share and how much I relate to their explanations of the world. The group have respectful, insightful conversations and operate as a whole group in a way that some adult professionals unable to do successfully. I would like to figure out what their secret is, how do they do it – older adults have so much to learn from young people.
In this conversation we were talking about the purpose of art. As usual, some members of the group chatted while others noted down thoughts on the conversation roll. Here are some highlights:
Music creates an emotion and creates ART
To evoke a thought/an emotional response from someone
To explore emotions, to show pain
To show different points of view in life
To express yourself
Art can be a safe space for people to express themselves
Art is a way for someone to expand and communicate their visions physically and emotionally
To make a safe space to relax in and a place where the artist can escape
To get different ideas out into the world
To explore hypothetical scenarios (what if?)
Harley said: ‘the most important reason to explore and self-express emotions through art is it’s an easy way to bring ourselves to confront those emotions especially when dealing with negative emotions, like sadness and depression’. Amber agrees.
I asked, ‘is it easy?’
‘It is comparatively easy – you can confront them and come to terms with them, Harley said.
Alex shared ‘I can never cry about stuff that’s going on with me, but if I watch a movie then I can cry. It’s similar to that.’
Amber, Ollie and Harley: ‘I can’t cry’…
…but I find when I get something down in an artistic form, whether that be words or drawings, it helps me more easily to organise my thoughts and understand what I’m feeling.
[I’ve only cried at one movie – INSIDE OUT (Pixar).]
Harley: ‘Emotions are abstract things. It might be hard to put into words.
So it might be easier to put the emotion in to a picture or something more metaphysical…
> shapes >>> I’ve genuinely said to someone I feel very triangle today’
Amber and Alex: ‘YES, I always say I feel beige’
Ollie: ‘How do I just understand I’m feeling very triangle today?
When you said it, I just got it.
I understand why I got beige, but not triangle.’
We asked Gwen to refelct on this blog ‘from the vaults’ in spring of 2023, after her exhibition with Salford Youth Council opened. Here are her thoughts looking back almost a year on:
This conversation resonated with me throughout my time with the Youth Council. I made this digital collage (above) while I was thinking about and processing what they said . The conversation made me think about this artwork Some DaysNo.3, 2002 by Wang Ningde, which I had been discussing with another group of young people. We discussed that it wasn’t clear how the subject of the image felt – happy, sad, indifferent, dreamy – everyone saw something different.
Feelings and emotions can look, feel, and are experienced differently by everyone. They can be hard to describe, hard to put in to words, and there is no right or wrong, you feel how you feel. Art can help us explore and confront our emotions, and find new ways of expressing them. Feelings and emotions pass, some days you feel one thing, some days you feel another. This is how we came to the title, Some Days I Feel Triangle. How do you feel today?
More more information on Some Days I Feel Triangle, click here.
Artist-in-residence Gwen Riley-Jones has been working with the University of Salford Art Collection since 2021, using the Collection as a starting point to engage with young people about what matters most to them.
As part of the LOOK Photo Biennial 2022: Climate at the University of Salford, a digital showcase of three series of images created in collaboration with young people and communities across Salford is on display in the New Adelphi Building Atrium. These include:
Planting for the Planet – images of chlorophyll prints exhibited for the first time;
Salford LGBTQ+ Youth Groups – images created during photography workshops on the day of Salford Pride during Youth Week August 2022,
Salford Youth Council x Tindall Street Allotments – images created when Youth Council teamed up with an allotment run by and for military veterans.
Planting for the Planet was produced collaboratively with youth environment group Action for Conservation, in partnership with RHS Garden Bridgewater. Together they explored how art and creativity can help communicate issues around climate change.
Using socially-engaged photography practice and sustainable plant-based printing methods, the group produced a series of images originally shown at RHS Garden Bridgewater in Summer. The photographs on display were taken by group members exploring their own relationships to natural environments; including green tinted portrait images made using spinach juice instead of ink, on recycled paper.
Alongside the digital showcase in New Adelphi, there is a physical display of the spinach prints (anthotypes) alongside a series of chlorophyll prints; a method of creating a photographic print within a leaf using naturally occurring light-sensitive pigments.
Gwen adds: “During my residency I have also been working with groups of young people in partnership with Salford Youth Service, together we have explored wellbeing and ways of using photography and nature to connect and feel better.
The digital showcase presents a series of images created by members of Salford’s LGBTQ+ Youth Groups during a photography workshop as part of Salford Pride celebrations in August 2022. I met many enthusiastic and talented photographers during the workshops, and we are discussing ways we can work together again in the future.
As part of my ongoing collaboration with Salford Youth Council there is a selection of images included in the digital display created when the group helped out at Tindall Street Allotments, during the summer holidays. The allotment is run by Vinny Nield and a group of Military Veterans. Vinny and the team shared their knowledge of plants and growing with the group, as well as getting them involved in the practical aspects of running an allotment. The group created photographs to explore this environment and the positive effects on both mental and physical health.”
Additionally, there is a second physical display of the ‘Photowalk for Wellbeing’ created in collaboration with Salford Youth Council. The photowalk activity is for anyone who wants to take some time out to take ‘notice, connect and feel better’.
The group created the prompts by responding to photographs they had taken in and around Salford. They created an accessible design, taking into account the needs of people with dyslexia.
Rediscovering Salford has been a city-wide programme of events, highlighting and celebrating Salford’s green spaces. The programme was inspired by the launch of RHS Bridgewater gardens in May 2021. Over 2020-2022, Rediscovering Salford animated the city with new commissions, exhibitions, workshops and events. To close the project, we gathered together to share and celebrate the project across Salford Museum and Art Gallery, the University of Salford campus and Peel Park.
Salford Rediscovered was a celebration of music, films, tours, performances, workshops and a one-time-only appearance of Madam Mort, as created by drag artist Cheddar Gorgeous. A party for anyone and everyone in Salford to enjoy.
Anthotypes are photographic prints made using plants, in these workshops we used spinach. The spinach is blended down to create a light-sensitive emulsion which is applied to paper in several layers. Once the paper is dry, photographic transparencies, or other objects can be placed on the paper. Next, secure everything in a frame and set out in the sun. No chemicals or harmful substances are used in this process, making it safe, sustainable and climate friendly.
Once in the sun, the sunlight fades the areas of paper not protected. Where the photograph/object blocks the sunlight, we maintain a rich green colour. When we open the frame, we find a photographic print.
However, this print is not fixed, exposure to sunlight will make the print disappear – reminding us to continually try to reduce impact we have on the planet by choosing sustainable ways to live. It is also a reminder of the power and danger of the sun. We each have a responsibility to change our behaviours to reduce the effects of climate change.
Over 50 people took part, across 2 workshops, and the groups created 30 anthotypes. We used leaves, flower petals, and images from the University of Salford Art Collection, and the Planting for the Planetexhibition showcasing the work created by the young people I worked with from Action for Conservation, currently on display at RHS Bridgewater until 27 August 2022.
The best thing about the event, for me, was the range of people taking part and enjoying the process – aged below 10 to over the age of 70. And the feedback from the participants:
‘I love it! Definitely abandoning chemicals for now and trying this instead…’
‘I really enjoyed my dabble. Have had a session with the Grandkids. A) they read how to do sun pics B) they told me what they needed paper etc C) a very enjoyable wander down the canal collecting wild stuff.
So thanks, it kept 4 of them ranging from 6-16 occupied all of one day and half of the next with a walk. Result 😍’
‘Thanks for this, looks great. Interesting that some light came through the leaves. Need to get some spinach and have a go. What sort of paper would you advise using?’
‘I enjoyed it. I am definitely going to try out some stuff myself at home’
How to make anthotypes at home
So for any of you who would like to have a go at plant-based photography at home – here’s how to do it:
What you’ll need:
300g of spinach
A hand blender
2 x plastic jug
1 x funnel
Coffee filter papers
A sponge brush
Acid-free watercolour or cartridge paper
A clip frame
Some leaves, flowers or petals – or any other object you wish to use
Or a photographic transparency – you can create your own using digital transfer film and a home inkjet printer
Step 1: Put the spinach leaves in a large plastic just and blend with a hand blender until you create a smooth liquid
Step 2: Line the funnel with a coffee filter paper and place on the second jug. Put the spinach liquid in to the second jug and leave to drip (aprox. 30 mins)
Step 3: Take your filtered spinach liquid and coat your paper. Allow to dry between each coat – either naturally or by carefully using a hairdryer. Coat the paper 3-4 times.
Step 4: Assemble leaves, petals, photographic transparencies or any other flat objects you choose on the paper.
Step 5: Secure the paper and the objects in a clip frame and leave out in direct sunlight, ideally outside, but inside a window will also work.
Step 6: Wait. Depending on how much sun you have the images could develop in a matter of hours, or over a few days. Your image is ready when the uncovered areas of the paper – that you can see, have faded to near white.
Step 7: Open your frame and reveal your print.
Note: the print will fade if exposed to direct sunlight.
Before making your own, you can visit the Planting for the Planet exhibition at RHS Bridgewater until August 27th, where you can see the anthotypes created by the young people from Action for Conservation on display alongside a collage of photographs, ‘Our City, Our Nature’ and contributions from communities on taking climate action by greening Greater Manchester. The exhibition demonstrates the importance of plants and nature in creating resilient, healthy and beautiful spaces for people and the planet to coexist.
Gwen Riley Jones is Socially Engaged Photographer in Residence at the University of Salford Art Collection in partnership with Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool.
Salford Rediscovered was led by the Salford Culture and Place Partnership, the University of Salford, Solid Ground, Salford City Council, Salford Museum and Art Gallery, and RHS Garden Bridgewater. Rediscovering Salford has created fantastic engagement and original commissions with Islington Mill, Paradise Works, START Creative, The Lowry and Walk the Plank. This programme is generously supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, as well as contributions from all the project partners.