Preston – outdoors – on now until May 23 @EnjoyTheShowUK
I’ve been blown away by the response to Lancashire Photography Festival.
Holding an outdoors art event like this is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It’s one of those ideas you sometimes have, but never think will actually happen. I had been talking up the idea of an outdoor arts-based festival for two or three years around Preston but could not get anyone interested in doing it with me. But when lockdown came along it quickly became obvious that an outdoors art exhibition at a time when all other arts venues were closed was a no brainer.
I began a massive period of research last summer which started with putting the images of cult artist Cold War Steve in the windows of The Larder on Lancaster Road. I talked to dozens of outdoor photography festivals around the world, plus specialist producers and printers who have staged similar exhibitions, installations and events.
Special thanks during this phase goes to freelance producer Julie Brown, Imitating The Dog’s Simon Wainwright and their projection specialist Andrew Crofts. Nic Greenan, lead of cultural partnership for Bradford City Council could not have been more open and helpful speaking to me about the outdoor photo installations in Bradford. Photographer Carolyn Mendelsohn supported me and the advice and encouragement of Jean-Christophe Godet, the artistic director of Guernsey Photography Festival, gave me the belief that a festival in Preston was possible.
Aimee Grundell’s openness and willingness to talk about her experiences of printing and installing outdoor images was absolutely invaluable. She went on to oversee the printing and installation of the festivals two major exhibitions – John Davies’ landscapes on Winckley Square and Peter Dench’s The British Abroad on the hoardings of the former BHS building on Fishergate. If Jean-Christophe gave me belief and insight to make it all possible, Aimee stepped forward and made the dream a reality.
There was a huge amount of planning for this festival before any image was ever printed. Finding locations and gaining permissions was far from easy. There were a few problems. Quite a few. I did complain to the council a couple of times when things weren’t happening.
I should also give huge thanks to those people who came and helped me install almost 200 images around Preston. It took me a week to put paste the images up and – timewise – I would not have been able to get all this done without people turning up and picking up a brush. For the first three days I had massive help from Teddy Cook and Betsy Byrom, then along came Jill Reidy, Norma Foulds, Charlotte Young, Richard Davis, Dave Bennett, Jill Cross and Ruth Wenham. Then I had huge problems with a five-metre high image of Preston Bus Station – this would not have gone up if it was not for Tarquin Scott and Richard McCann.
It was brilliant to do workshops and engage with over 120 local photographers, with many of them going on to produce six-image documentary photo essays, most of which can be seen at Preston Market hoardings. There are too many people here to mention – including Preston Photographic Society and all the Blackpool Sixth Form College photography students who have taken over windows of The Larder – but I’d like to thank everyone for taking part, and also thank those who helped on the organisation side.
Doing any kind of photography project during lockdown is hard – doing a documentary one is even harder, especially as some people taking part had little or no photography experience. But it was brilliant to see the beautiful and diverse images produced by people who had taken part in the workshops.
And possibly as important as the photographs are the people who have shared information about the festival to all your friends on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’ve not begun collecting data on this properly (a quick check tells me the #lancsphotofest hashtag has reached 200,000 people) but I know from the multiple mentions and notifications I get every time I look at my phone that this festival has been loved and shared by so many people. I’ve heard countless wonderful stories and read unbelievably kind words about the festival – I was even told that the people of Connecticut, New England, USA, want their own outdoor festival after seeing images from this one in Preston. So if you are one of those people reading this who has shared details about the festival or photographed it – thanks for all your support.
I got funding for this festival from the Arts Council England to develop my own career as a producer. I’m so grateful for them for that. This festival is a move away from my work as a producer with theatre and performance (I also delivered Lancashire Fringe festival in 2017 and 2019 if you didn’t know) but it has been a brilliant experience.
The festival is essentially a pilot – to test ideas and see what works and doesn’t work. Some of what I have done has not worked. Also, there were initial plans for some special events and projection installation but these were dropped because of lockdown and social-distancing concerns. I hope these can be added in the future. I did not have enough money to do some massive full-building prints. Floor prints in the Fishergate Centre didn’t happen because they were closed. If I had a bigger budget, more images would have been cut to fit irregular spaces and window shapes. I hope all that can come if this festival develops into something bigger. For that to happen, I am going to need support from Preston to enable me to develop this festival into a truly unique event in the north of England, if not the UK – and then the world.
And now, with work on the festival done, I now turn my attention to my next project. I just don’t know what it is yet. But like any good freelance photographer and producer, I’m available for work.
Garry Cook @gazcook @EnjoyTheShowUK (Sorry if I forgot to mention anyone)
PS No one has told me if there has been any complaints about the photos of drunk people on Fishergate. But I’m telling you now they’ve made people laugh out loud.
3. The History of Preston (former Past Times building, Fishergate)
Seven historical images highlighting significant moments in the history of Preston, including the unveiling of Preston War Memorial, Avenham Park during the 1862 Preston Guild and Edith Rigby.
4. Beauty Spots by Dave Bennett (Old Cock Yard)
During the lockdown, Bennett walked daily for exercise, taking photographs along the route. He documented the increase in the number of people on his country walks, and the incidents which followed. The images were taken in the Peak District.
davebphoto.co.uk // @djbnet
5. The Mask by Alf Myers (Avenham Street)
Myers is a Preston-based street photographer who focuses on people. This series was taken during lockdown.
6. A Small Dose of Covid by Cory Robinson (Yates’/Co-op bank tunnel)
These stark documentary images were taken at one of the UK’s new mass vaccination centre at Blackburn Cathedral, one of 18 sites opened earlier this year.
7. Planet Earth by NASA (side of Stanley Arms, Lancaster Road)
This photo of Planet Earth was taken by the Apollo 17 crew on December 7, 1972. Take a selfie of yourself with Planet Earth.
nasa.gov // @NASA
8. Preston Bus Station by Ashley Hardman (Lowthian Street, rear of Healthrack)
Preston Bus Station is easily the most iconic building in Preston, known around the world for its striking Brutalism concrete architecture.
ashleyhardman.com // Insta: @ashley.hardman.1
9. Protection by Richard Davis (Lowthian Street, rear of Healthrack)
Davis’ work has been exhibited by the British Culture Archive in London, Manchester & Berlin, as well as having work promoted by renowned Preston-based photography publishers Cafe Royal Books. This series of images were taken in Manchester during the pandemic.
17. Suspended Boris by Foka Wolf (secret location)
Cult artist Foka Wolf has become one of the UK’s leading satirists by publishing spoof posters and prank adverts. Their installation in Preston, hidden down one of the city’s darkest alleys, is a controversial art work featuring Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
megacorpglobal.com // @fokawolf
18 [Blue dots] Moor Park skaters by Garry Cook (various locations)
Twelve life-size images of skaters, scooter riders and BMXers who use Preston Skatepark at Moor Park are sited at various locations across the city, including Tithebarn Street and Old Cock Yard. The images were taken by Garry Cook
There’s a unique outdoor photography festival coming to the streets of Preston in April.
Lancashire Photography Festival will featuring the iconic work of John Davies and the bold, brash imagery of Peter Dench, the festival launches on April 2nd, 2021, with all works across the city able to be viewed from the street, in a covid-safe way.
Davies stunning black and white work will be shown in a stand-alone installation in Winckley Square while Dench’s vivid colour images will be displayed on the hoardings of the former BHS building on Fishergate.
The work of dozens of local photographers will be shown on the hoardings of Preston Market, plus projects by Blackpool Sixth Form students and Preston Photographic Society will also be shown in the city.
Images of Preston skaters from Moor Park skate park will be displayed at multiple sites across the city and there will be several unique, large-scale installations on walls across the city.
All images in the festival will be able to be viewed from the street, in a totally safe, socially-distanced way compliant with lockdown restrictions. This means it’s free!
The festival is set to launch of Friday, Apr 2nd – a few days after the stay-at-home lockdown guidance is scheduled to be lifted in England – and will last for seven weeks.
I’ve organised the festival – in the hope that it can become a regular event in the city, displaying the work of photographers from around the world.
More covid-safe, lockdown loving photography is coming to Lancashire!
As well as producing Lancashire Photography Festival in Preston (which takes place in the outdoors across the city from Apr 2 to May 23, 2021) we are also supporting the outdoor F/Stop exhibition in Blackpool.
This free exhibition takes place in 11 tram stops across Blackpool and features the work of 22 female photographers.
F/Stop has been created by HIVEArts. Some of the photographers in F/Stop have also been involved in Lancashire Photography Festival workshops and will be exhibiting their work in Preston.
The photographers involved are: Amanda Joynt, Ann Worsnip, Anna Bloomfield-Ravliuc, Caro Lyn, Caran Caravan, Dawn Mander, Dawn Urquhart, Emily Japp, Esther Parkinson, Hannah Doyle, Helen Yates, Irina Rojin, Janet Parker, Joanne Fletcher, Kate Yates, Katy White, KatyJane Maria, Laura Dyer, Libby Nightingale, Lisa Pool, Marianne van Loo, Nicola Morley, Sophie Gorner, Sophie Wells, Sophie White, Stephanie Cottle, Zo Taylor.
The F-Stop exhibition takes place the Golden Mile and in HIVE café from April 1 to May 1, 2021.
Unique outdoor photography festival announces photographer line up
A new outdoor photography festival being held in Preston will showcase the work of two of the world’s leading documentary photographers.
Lancashire Photography Festival, created by photographer Garry Cook, will display projects by renowned photographers John Davies and Peter Dench on the streets of Preston.
John Davies is part of the British photography establishment, with his stunning large-scale black and white images of industrialised landscapes recognised around the world.
The Durham-born photographer, who now lives in Liverpool, has published over 20 books and exhibited throughout Europe, North America and Japan. His landmark publications include ‘A Green & Pleasant Land’ (1986), acclaimed publisher Dewi Lewis’ first photobook, and ‘The British Landscape’ (2006).
Since 2006, Davies has also been active with campaigns to save open and green space.
Davies said: “To view the landscape as a pictorial composition of elements is simplistic. To perceive the landscape within the context of its functions is a way people can deal with the complexity of meanings that are presented in our environment.
“We are collectively responsible for shaping the landscape we occupy and in turn the landscape shapes us whether we are aware of it or not.”
Photojournalist Peter Dench has tirelessly documented British culture, publishing several acclaimed books including England Uncensored, A&E: Alcohol and England, and Dench Does Dallas.
The Dorset-born photographer, who now lives in London, has developed a reputation for producing beautifully brash colour images depicting brutal scenes of alcoholic excess. His project The British Aboard will be shown at Lancashire Photography Festival.
Dench said: “During my career, I’ve had the privilege to work on assignment in over 60 countries across the globe but it’s towards the British I’ve consistently pointed my lens. It’s my home, my passion and its people are the ones I want to document most, warts and all.
“When not annihilating themselves with alcohol at home, many young Brits can be found slowly turning pink in the party resorts across Europe. I look forward to exhibiting some of what I witnessed at the festival.”
Lancashire Photography Festival will also show the work of dozens of local photographers, plus projects by Blackpool Sixth Form students and Preston Photographic Society. Cult artist Foka Wolf, known for their controversial spoof posters across the UK, will also exhibit work at the festival. Images of Preston skaters will also be displayed at multiple sites across the city.
The festival will see images exhibited on walls, hoardings, in shops windows and on specially built displays. There will also be unique innovative photography displays, including a planned shop-window installation. The city-wide exhibition will include sites on Preston Market and on the hoardings of the former BHS building on Fishergate.
All images in the festival will be able to be viewed from the street, in a totally safe, socially-distanced way compliant with lockdown restrictions.
The festival is set to launch of Friday, Apr 2nd – a few days after the stay-at-home lockdown guidance is scheduled to be lifted in England.
Organiser Cook said: “I’ve wanted to hold an outdoor photography festival for a long time. After a few months of lockdown last year it was obvious that an outdoor exhibition was the single best way to keep people engaged with the arts and culture in a safe way.
“I was able to bring an exhibition of Cold War Steve’s work to Preston last summer during lockdown, putting large scale prints of his work in the windows of The Larder on Lancaster Road.
“Thousands of people saw Cold War Steve’s wonderful work and were able to see it at any time of the day a totally safe way. The reaction to it was tremendous – people absolutely loved the art.
“That success enabled me to secure funding for this photography festival. It will start off this spring in a small way, an experimental pilot event, but the plan is to make it into a major festival held every year.
“An outdoor festival is such an obvious thing to do in lockdown when all cultural venues are closed, as they have been for most of the past 10 months. This festival will allow people in Preston to experience great art in a unique way.”
Cook added: “I’m already working with Preston BID, the Harris Museum and the city council’s cultural department to help make this festival the best it can be.
“Although lockdown means this pilot festival will be kept small, the aim for future years is to help define Preston as cultural destination for visitors through the world-class photography projects which will be put on display in the city.
“I really want the festival will inspire local people and make them proud that this unique event is taking place in Preston. And I want to inspire the people who run the city and get them involved so that we can come back next year with an even bigger and better outdoor festival of photography.”
In 2019, I was delighted to invite Louise Orwin to Preston, as part of Lancashire Fringe Festival with her show Oh Yes Oh No. The brilliant show was one of the cornerstone performances of the festival. Delivering complex subject matter with technical and tehatrical brilliance, Oh Yes Oh No is contemporary performance at its best. You can read about the show here.
Louise Orwin is one of the UK’s leading contemporary performers. I was delighted to be able support the development of her latest project, a digital artist workshop called How To Begin, designed to inspire, re-boot and develop your work. Apply here: louiseorwin.com/howtobegin
These workshops are now open to all practicing artists, with the first week-long workshops beginning on March 1, 2021 (application deadline Feb 21, 2021).
Dates of workshop: March 1st – 7th 2021 and March 8th – 14th 2021 Price: £45 / £30, with scholarship places available More info and application: louiseorwin.com/howtobegin
HOW TO BEGIN is a week-long digital artist workshop designed as a space to reignite, reawaken, or re-encounter your artistic practice. It is a place for anyone who feels blocked, uninspired, bored, fed up, or out of love with their artistic practice. You can think of this as an artist’s call-to-arms, an invitation to commune with your art-self, or a love letter to your burgeoning art practice.
Applications open 1st Feb, and closes 21st Feb at midnight. Access: Workshop content is fully captioned, and is designed to be approached at your own pace through the week. Tasks can be done anywhere/any time each day, we just ask that participants set aside 1 hr minimum a day. The final session on zoom is the only fixed time session of the week (Sunday 2-5pm), and we ask that all participants be available for this session.
Avenham and MMiller Park, Preston, Lancashire Sunday January 17, 2021.
Longridge Fell, Lancashire.
Longridge Fell, Lancashire.
I’m working hard on organising Lancashire Photography Festival, which will exhibit stunning documentary photography images outdoors in the city of Preston, Lancashire, in the spring of 2021. We’re working for an April launch.
I’ve spoken to one or two brilliant photographers about displaying their work. And will confirm their participation once the right venues are secured.
Conversations are ongoing with dozens of independent businesses and property owners, so I’m really hoping they will get on board and make Lancashire Photography Festival a major cultural event in the city. Support and practical help from the city council has been a bit slow so far but hopefully when they are ready to get in touch they can contribute to what I hope will be a long-term annual project.
This city – like any city in the UK or around the world currently in lockdown – needs innovative cultural events and exhibitions to maintain arts engagement and encourage all the health and wellbeing benefits which come from this.
Lancashire Photography Festival addresses all of these issues by displaying all art works in an outward facing way so they can be viewed outdoors in a totally safe way, whatever the lockdown restrictions are.
I believe this is will be a truly innovative festival, bringing an under-used but highly respected art form – documentary photography – to an area where similar festivals are not held. That area is Preston, Lancashire, the North West, Northern England. While other countries do outdoor photography festivals brilliantly, we in the UK are far, far behind. This is the first step in redressing this imbalance and I hope Lancashire Photography Festival can become a hugely respected event internationally – but it starts from small beginnings and we need support from the city of Preston
Get in touch with Garry Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org if you feel you could offer us support through venues, wall space, window space, sponsorship or with the physical installation of the images.