A Visual Dictionary

This is the first in a series of three blogs from our Evolving in Conversation partners – Photoworks, New Writing South and South East Dance. Find out more about the project from their perspective. Join us at our Showcase Day on Saturday 30th May at Jubilee Library.

Photoworks have been involved as a partner in Evolving in Conversation right from the beginning, working with library staff to help shape the proposal and to link it to Brighton Photo Biennial last October.  We led the first phase, which kicked off very quickly (and involved a lot of unknowns!) and trialled the project model with five photographers, a photographer/facilitator, library staff and some very enthusiastic young people, who together made some beautiful and powerful work, which they presented at Jubilee Library as part of the Biennial programme. It’s one of the shows people are still talking about!

This project model is such an interesting one – project partners from different artforms working collaboratively to shape project plans, with different phases of artistic activity that evolve or merge into each other, giving young, amateur, or emerging artists equal status and opportunity to make new work and share creative processes. I think it’s quite unique, and I’ve certainly learnt a lot about the possibilities of working in a multidisciplinary way with lots of partners.

We’ve commissioned some great practitioners and facilitators, all of whom have embraced the ambition of the project, and taken a bit of a leap of faith in terms of working in a new or unfamiliar context (inserting photographs into books for a start!).  But for me, my personal highlight has been the opportunity to work with photographer Chloe Dewe Mathews. I remember our first telephone conversation, right at the beginning of the project, where I somewhat vaguely tried to explain the ambition of the project, with all its complexities, and set out a brief for her. Chloe was off to Russia, was really busy, and didn’t really know how she would respond, but felt intrigued enough to agree to the commission. And hooray that she did, because I fell in love with the series of small, intimate instant film photographs she made as a visual dictionary inspired by A Clockwork Orange.

Chloe Dewe Mathews picture for Juliette's blog

Having said that, another highlight has been the unexpected outcomes – chance conversations with participating photographers that have led to new opportunities, increased joined up thinking around work with young people and lots of new partnerships to take forward.

Juliette Buss

Learning & Participation Curator

Photoworks

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