Contemporary Photography, Spring 2013

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Spring edition of the quarterly journal of the RPS Contemporary Group

Text of Contemporary Photography, Spring 2013

  • Number 51 Spring 2013

    Contemporary Photography

  • . 2 . RPS Contemporary Group Journal

    View from the Chair

    Text should be in Microsoft Word and images are preferred in TIFF format, 300 dpi, file size guideline 10-20Mb. Images are also acceptable as high quality JPEGs, file size guideline 3-6 Mb. For other formats, please contact the Editor. Large image files may be supplied on disc or by use of online large file transfer facilities. Unless requested, discs will not be returned.

    DEADLINE for the Summer 2013 edition is 30 June 2013.

    Copyright notice The copyright of photographs and text in this issue belongs to the author of the article of which they form part, unless otherwise indicated.If you wish to submit articles for the Journal, please send all copy and images on disc to:Patricia Ann Ruddle, 28 Malvern Avenue, York, YO26 5SG.

    Cover: El Primero de Mayo 2012 Dulce Fontanillas Morales

    ISSN 0959-6704

    The AGM, 23 March, was aborted due to adverse weather conditions. A few were brave enough to face the elements but not sufficient to make a successful quorum. However, our speaker, Liz Hingley, arrived and proceeded to give us a most exuberant talk about her projects Under Gods and The Jones Family. The talk and Liz were very well received and we had a wonderful afternoon. I hope that she has a successful sojourn in China and that upon her return she will speak at one of our weekend events.

    The weekend event for this year has been arranged A Wider View will be held at Reading College, 12-13 October 2013. Speakers who have accepted are Jem Southam HonFRPS, Daniel Meadows HonFRPS, Marketa Luskacova, Natasha Caruana, Dana Popa and Francis Hodgson. We will have a photographic book sales table by Claire de Rouen Books, Charing Cross Road, London, and we hope that attendees will bring their own images and photo books for discussion and feedback. The cost for RPS Contemporary Group members will be 70, including tea and coffee, plus lunch on Saturday. 25 secures a place and booking forms can be found on the RPS website.

    I would like to remind you all that we are still looking for someone to take over from Brian Steptoe as Treasurer. I am assured it will not take up a great deal of time. It would ease the pressure on Brian who is not only helping with the layout of the Journal but also helping me with any events we organise. Please give it some thought and see if you can become more involved in what is your group The Contemporary Group.

    Best wishes to you all,Avril.

  • . 3 .Contemporary Photography

    Contemporary Group ethos - Photography that explores the photographers personal view of contemporary society, environment, art or culture, usually through a themed body of work.

    Number 51 Spring 2013

    Contemporary Photography

    View from the Chair Avril Harris ARPS 2

    Editorial Patricia Ann Ruddle ARPS 4

    El Primero de Mayo 2012 Dulce Fontanillas Morales 5

    Two Women Artists Richard Sadler FRPS 10

    The Life of Stuff Christopher Harland ARPS 18

    The Presence of Absence Luke Smith 22

    An interview with Sophy Rickett Rod Fry ARPS/Sophy Rickett 28

    The Poetry of Jane Routh Selected by Anne Crabbe FRPS 34

    Backgrounding the Landscape Peter Harvey ARPS 36

    Group Events 39

    Committee 39

    Caf Rouge Natasha Caruana 40

  • . 4 . RPS Contemporary Group Journal

    EditorialI have a lust for storytelling.

    Yaakov Israel talked about wanting to be a writer; after a novel and a few short stories, he realised that he wasnt good enough. Eventually he discovered photography and how it better suited what he wanted to say. His main influences have been literature and film; he reads obsessively. He referenced several photographers, such as Robert Frank and Stephen Shore, but initially it was Jack Kerouacs On the Road that prompted him to seek out the land of his birth Israel.

    I heard Yaakov speak about his work during his exhibition at Impressions Gallery in February. What interested me was his explanation about purpose and style. He doesnt consider himself a documentary photographer, rather more narrative-based on a documentary style. In the exhibition The Quest for the Man on the White Donkey he uses reality, but uses it to build his story. He sees himself as a visual collector. Photography isnt about a quick response to what is happening. Yaakov tries to combine the accidental with the staged approach.

    Bizarre encounters shaped my project

    It was 400 in the desert near the Dead Sea. A mirage in the distance - he thought he was hallucinating as a figure came towards him out of the heat haze. A man on a donkey. Traditionally in Judaism, the Messiah will arrive riding on a white donkey. This man was an old Palestinian farmer one of the paradoxes of Israeli society

    you expect one thing and then get another. Yaakov made a portrait of the farmer on his donkey, reminiscent of the early ethnographic, anthropological photographers, as he disappeared under the black cloth on this 8x10 view camera.

    It was this serendipitous encounter that shaped the project. Originally, Yaakov was thinking about social, political and economic aspects of the land, not religious issues. However, the man on the donkey got him thinking about what he wanted his story to say. He realised how biblical stories not only exist in book and subtexts, but are connected to Judaism, Islam and Christianity. We might see modern day materialisation of these stories now.

    We as viewers have the opportunity to unravel the many layers that images may contain, such is the potential of storytelling. Photography that narrates doesnt describe, or give us a definitive interpretation. Although we might discern what the photographer is telling us, we have the opportunity to make individual, personal interpretations based on our own life experiences. In turn, what we bring to the story can replace the reality of what occurred. Indeed, Yaakov concluded that these photographs arent really about Israel. Actually, modern day Israel doesnt appear in this body of work; its more about the fringes of society, history and myth.

    Best wishes, Patricia

    Quotes are from the Yaakov Israels Artist Talk, Impressions Gallery, 16 February 2013. A recording is now available at For more information see Yaakovs website:

  • . 5 .Contemporary Photography

    Dulce Fontanillas Morales

    El Primero de Mayo 2012

    More than 500,000 people participated in the annual May Day parade last year in Havana. Cuban neighbours, workers and students marched alongside supporters from other nations in the early hours of the morning. Thousands of banners, flags and posters were carried along the Plaza de la Revolucin. I had the good fortune to take photographs with another photographer, Dulce Fontanillas Morales. Moreover, I had the privilege of obtaining her photographs for inclusion in the Spring Journal.

    When I looked through her results of what had to be the quickest parade on record it was over in much less

    than two hours she told me what she wanted her images to say about the mornings event. Her aim was to capture the mood of the morning, especially through the faces of the marchers, and those who showed their patriotism by shouldering enormous Cuban flags. Whether cheerful or spirited, or expressing a more earnest, intense character, I suggest that this small selection of Dulces photographs display an atmosphere of genuine support for the principles of the Cuban revolution.

    The Editor

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  • . 8 . RPS Contemporary Group Journal

  • . 9 .Contemporary Photography

  • . 10 . RPS Contemporary Group Journal

    Two Women ArtistsRichard Sadler FRPS

    Two women artists, Vicky Hodgson ARPS from the UK and Lisbeth Bang from Norway, in a true photojournalistic style, challenge the notion that men over 65 and women over 60 are inactive. They explored their ideas, particularly about women, in a joint exhibition that was commissioned by the Solihull Gallery, Birmingham last November.

    Vicky Hodgson has identified a number of women from 70 to 100 who are actively working and volunteering in the Solihull area. She photographed them at their place of work in a wide variety of occupations: in supermarkets, theatres, hospitals and courtrooms. All the subjects were pleased to be involved in and proud of the work which is important to them, and, as they saw it, important to society in general.

    Through her academic studies, Hodgson understands the power of photography to address reality in a way that no other medium can, especially in the case of photojournalism. This genre, due to the advent of digital recording, can be manipulated, but as with her fellow artist Lisbeth Bang, she has remained true to that original reality in front of the camera. Bang is also working on the same theme from a Norwegian point of view and has

    presented her work concerning women from 70 to 90 years old.

    In both countries there is concern that social welfare cannot support a society with its increasing ageing population. Many governments, due to economic mismanagement, suffer from having to reduce welfare finance.

    In Norway, high taxation and a more stable economy does help to solve some future concerns. In the UK, the media reports unfairly and very negatively on the aged population, especially in regard to women. There is a lack of positive media reporting in Norway as well. These projects by Hodgson and Bang try to redress these issues by showing that women in both countries can deal with the position in which they find themselves.

    Hodgson sets out to present her images stylist