Posts tagged: Photography

Craig Easton : Is Anybody Listening? Commissioning and Collecting Socially Engaged Photography

Back in February the Art Collection team returned to the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum to host a final event for the Craig Easton Is Anybody Listening? and Our Time, Our Place touring programme. The symposium ‘Commissioning and Collecting Socially Engaged Photography’ brought together partners and stakeholders along with artists and participating communities to ask again: Is Anybody Listening? It was a full day of talks from artists and facilitators, as well as audience feedback sessions based around the concept of ‘socially engaged practices’ and their place in the art world.

In the morning, we heard directly from Craig Easton, along with artists/facilitators Liz Wewiora, Poppy Cain, and Gwen Riley Jones; celebrating the work of the young people and emerging photographers that they supported, as well as discovering what impact each project had.

Gwen Riley Jones, Lindsay Taylor, and Rob Fulton enjoying their time on the discussion panel.
Photo credit : Roger Sinek

Stemming from questions that have arisen during the project, the afternoon focused more closely on the ethics surrounding socially engaged photographic practice – from commissioning and collecting through to what is valued, by who – and why? Speakers including Sarah Fisher (Executive Director of Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool), Lindsay Taylor (Curator, University of Salford), Laura Jamieson (Creative Producer, LeftCoast), Craig Easton (exhibiting artist/documentarian), Gwen Riley Jones (socially engaged photographer and Creative Director of Stockroom), and Rob Fulton (Youth Work Manager, Salford Youth Service) each presented a response to the question:
From the spectrum of socially engaged photographic practice, what should we be collecting?

The panel went on to answer questions about what evidence there was that our audience are interested in socially engaged photographic practice, whether we are omitting an important part of art history by failing to collect socially engaged practice, and how we might begin to think about recompense for those co-authoring the work; this led to a very engaged and thought-provoking debate amongst the delegates.

The event then finished with a touching reading from poet Abdul Aziz Hafiz; collaborator on Craig Easton’s Bank Top project.

Abdul Aziz Hafiz reading his poem to the room.
Photo credit : Sam Parker

At the Art Collection, we know that our recent socially-engaged work with young people has already made a huge impact on the way we work – including the way we think about commissioning, collecting, and reaching audiences and participants. In particular, our projects with Salford Youth Service have proved particularly inspiring, and we hope to find ways to develop this work further in future.

Sam Parker, Art Collection Team Assistant, April 2024

LOOK Climate Lab 2024 – Private View and Launch

RSVP – Thursday 8th of February 2024, 6-8 PM



LOOK Climate Lab is a biennial programme exploring how photography can be a relevant and powerful medium for talking about climate change. The Open Eye Gallery has been transformed into a lab: bringing together researchers and artists to collaborate, test their ideas, and encourage audiences to discuss systematic changes needed for dealing with the climate crisis.

Open Eye Gallery - LOOK Climate Lab 2024
Photo cred : Rob Battersby
Open Eye Gallery - LOOK Climate Lab 2024
Photo cred : Rob Battersby

The exhibition is open now! However there is a private view and launch alongside the We Feed The UK project on the 8th of February, 6-8 pm. Come along if you can!

Featuring Stephanie Wynne, Nazar Furyk, our artist in residence at Energy House 2 Mishka Henner, John Davies, Mario Popham, Johannes Pretorius, Hellen Songa, one of our previous Graduate Scholars Lizzie King, and Gwen Riley Jones!

RSVP and find out more through the Open Eye Gallery website – link below!

LOOK Climate Lab is partnered with Gaia Foundation, Energy House 2.0 Salford, Royal Horticultural Society, The Tree Council, Impressions Gallery, Peloton Liverpool Coop, Wigan Council, The Mersey Forest, Liverpool ONE and many others to bring people and ideas together, explore the complexities of human-nature relationships and make positive changes to live more sustainable and connected lives.

Photo credit : Rob Battersby Photography

Is Anybody Listening? Symposium: Commissioning and Collecting Socially Engaged Photography

Free Admission – Thursday 29th of February 2024, 9:30am

Williamson Art Gallery & Museum

Slatey Road, Birkenhead, CH43 4UE

Our friends at the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum are hosting the last leg of the ‘Is Anybody Listening?’ tour, this also includes a thought-provoking symposium on the theme of socially engaged photography.

Craig Easton and Lindsay Taylor at the Craig Easton: Is Anybody Listening? Opening.
Gwen Riley Jones at the Craig Easton: Is Anybody Listening? Opening.
Craig Easton at the Craig Easton: Is Anybody Listening? Opening.

Facilitated by the Culture Lead for Liverpool City Region, Sarah Lovell, the symposium will explore the ethical considerations of socially engaged photography, and ask “What should we be collecting?”

Attending will be the award-winning photographer Craig Easton alongside socially-engaged practitioners and educators Liz Wewiora, Suzanne St Clare, and Gwen Riley Jones.

Expert Speakers include Sarah Fisher (Open Eye Gallery), our own Lindsay Taylor (University of Salford Art Collection), Laura Jamieson (LeftCoast), and Abdul Aziz Hafiz (Blackburn College).

There are limited spots for this event, so make sure you secure your place sooner rather than later!

Is Anybody Listening? Our Time, Our Place is presented by University of Salford Art Collection and generously supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Special thanks go to National Lottery players.

New Blogs from Sustaining Photography 🌿

Throughout November, artist Lizzie King and Socially Engaged Photographer Gwen Riley Jones have been sharing recipes and reflections from their project Sustaining Photography.

Sustaining Photography is a project led by Lizzie and Gwen, exploring and promoting plant-based and sustainable alternatives to traditional photographic processes. 

You can read all four blogs, including recipes for anthotypes and 35mm film developer from Gwen and Lizzie and find out more about the project here: Sustaining Photography

Sustaining Photography has been funded by the Salford Advantage Fund and The University of Salford Art Collection.

Sustaining Photography Blog – Why? Gwen Riley Jones

Socially Engaged Photography Gwen Riley Jones, shares why she wanted to work on the Sustaining Photography project.

In 2019, The British Youth Council declared the climate emergency the “biggest issue facing young people”. This headline is taken from the Planting for the Planet exhibition, held at RHS Garden Bridgewater in 2022. In this exhibition, I worked with young people from Action for Conservation to explore nature-based solutions to climate change. Through the process of collaborating with, and learning from, a group of young people to make images for the exhibition, my creative practice changed forever.  

We were making work about nature-based solutions to climate change, so I wondered, are there any plant-based photographic techniques? Turns out there’s loads. 

As soon as I started to learn about it – it made total sense – plants create energy using light – they are light sensitive, they contain pigments that adapt and change with changes in light intensity. My mind was blown, I was hooked. 

But what hooked me in deeper was that I could suddenly create photographs in my kitchen at home. The process is safe and non-toxic, even edible, and I could create anthotype paper at home in my kitchen whilst I made my daughter’s breakfast. I’ve been a photographer for 20 years but setting up a home darkroom has always felt like too big a task – for many reasons, not least, toxic waste. 

A participant exploring sustainable photographic methods as part of Gwen’s workshops during Rediscovering Salford.

Perfection in the imperfection. 

It is a parody of the industrial world that in searching for photographic perfection, faster shutter speeds, sharper images – steps towards the sublime – we have created a toxic world. Maybe the perfection is actually found in the imperfections, in these green pictures which will fade to nothing when left out in the sun.  

And from here, well it makes you wonder, if we don’t need to use these harmful substances, why do we? 

So I now work with sustainable photographic processes almost as a metaphor for sustainable practices, sustainable lives. As a way of starting a conversation – if we can do this using only plants – what else can we do using only plants? 

I grew some beetroot, made anthotypes out of the juice, film developer out of the peelings, and pickled the beets to eat for lunch. You don’t need much money and you certainly don’t need perfection. The beauty of this process is in the imperfection, and the accessibility of the practice.  

So we invite you to join us: pick some spinach from the community growing space (but also make sure you join in and plant some more!) make some anthotypes, cook a curry, use the vegetable peelings to develop your film, ask some new questions. 

Share the spoils of your practice with those around you. Put up a picture, pass on a plate of food, share your experience. And let us know what else you decide to do differently.

Sustaining Photography is a collaborative project by Lizzie King & Gwen Riley Jones to connect and engage students at the University of Salford with sustainable photographic processes, using produce from the University’s Community Growing Space. The project is based at The University of Salford and has been funded by the Salford Advantage Fund and The University of Salford Art Collection.

Click here to find out more.

Sustaining Photography Blog – How to Make Film Developer from Vegetable Food Waste

Want to give green film developing a go?  Here are the instructions for making film developer from vegetable food waste. 

What you’ll need: 

900ml water 

3 heaped tsp Vitamin C (powdered not tablet) 

9 tsp Soda Crystals (Can usually be found in the household cleaning area) 

Suggestions of foods we have used:  

potato peelings 

spinach, ½ romaine lettuce, and  ½ savoy cabbage 

Red onion, tomatoes, broccoli, green bean, cabbage, bananas 

A person in an orange jumper pours plant-based developing solution into a film developing tank.
Behind the scenes with Sustaining Photography. Courtesy Lizzie King.
A photograph shows plant-based developing solutions in jugs, in a sink with a film developing tank.
Behind the scenes with Sustaining Photography. Courtesy Lizzie King.


Step 1: Place vegetable waste in a container with a lid, a mason jar or pan works well. Cover the vegetable waste with boiling water and leave overnight. Or boil the contents like you would for eating.  (If you are making your tea by boiling veg you could just save the water from this and use it in your developing mix) 

Step 2: After 12 hours remove the vegetable waste and keep the water 

Step 3: Add the vitamin C and the soda crystals into your water (Make sure you are doing this in a container that has extra space. When you add them together as it can fizz up.) 

Step 4: Mix well 

Step 5: You can now develop your film as you normally would but using your homemade developer. 

I. For Ilford HP5 we developed for 15 mins agitating continuously for the first minute then once every minute (Check the resources page for a suggestion on where to look for time information for different films)  

II. Then stop bath and fix as you normally would. 

Step 6: It is safe to just pour this developer down the sink as it only contains things you would find in your kitchen! 

Sustaining Photography is a collaborative project by Lizzie King & Gwen Riley Jones to connect and engage students at the University of Salford with sustainable photographic processes, using produce from the University’s Community Growing Space. The project is based at The University of Salford and has been funded by the Salford Advantage Fund and The University of Salford Art Collection.

Click here to find out more.

Sustaining Photography Blog – How to Make Anthotypes at Home

Step by step instructions on how to make you’re on plant-based sun prints from the Sustaining Photography team, Gwen Riley Jones and Lizzie King.

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  

Equipment for making anthotypes, laid out on a table.
Behind the scenes, making anthotypes with Sustaining Photography. Courtesy Lizzie King.


Step 1: Put the spinach leaves in a large plastic jug and blend with a hand blender until you create a smooth liquid. 

Step 2: Line the funnel with a coffee filter paper and place the funnel on the second jug. Put the spinach liquid into the lined funnel and leave to drip (approx. 30 mins). 

Step 3: Coat your paper with your filtered spinach juice using the foam brush. 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 on 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 have faded to a pale yellow colour.  

Step 7: Open your frame and reveal your print.  

Note: The print will fade if exposed to direct sunlight.

Sustaining Photography is a collaborative project by Lizzie King & Gwen Riley Jones to connect and engage students at the University of Salford with sustainable photographic processes, using produce from the University’s Community Growing Space. The project is based at The University of Salford and has been funded by the Salford Advantage Fund and The University of Salford Art Collection.

Click here to find out more.

Sustaining Photography Exhibition Open & Events Programme Announced!

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.

Now Open!

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 Sustaining Photography project is based at The University of Salford and has been funded by the Salford Advantage Fund and The University of Salford Art Collection.

Mishka Henner appointed as first artist-in-residence at Energy House 2.0

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. 

API 4303716180 | Ismay, UT, Mishka Henner, courtesy the artist 

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. 

The Energy House 2.0 Artist Residencies are hosted in partnership with Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool and Castlefield Gallery, Manchester.

Both residencies have been made possible through funding from the Friends of Energy House 2.0 Community: 


Mishka Henner 

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.

Energy House 2.0 

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 

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. 

Castlefield Gallery 

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. 

From the Vault: ‘I feel triangle’: art can help us confront our emotions and come to terms with them

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 
  • 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).] 

‘Inside Out.’ Image © 2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

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… 

> sounds 

> colours  

> 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.’ 

Some Days I feel triangle, a digital collage created by Gwen Riley Jones in response to a conversation with Salford Youth Council and Some Days No.03, 2002 by Wang Ningde, part of University of Salford Art Collection

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 Days No.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.