Thursday, 5 June 2014

ERA Exhibition–University of Cumbria 2014

The ERA Exhibition was part of the University of Cumbria degree show and features the work of 33 Photography graduates.

My thoughts in no particular order of importance:

  • It’s a shame the show couldn’t have been held somewhere more prominent than the depths of the University Campus – which isn’t large, but is relatively distant from the city itself. I say this because there was a stimulating variety of work on display and it deserved to be seen by a wider audience.
  • As you might expect, there was a range of approaches on show, from very formal (Amy Trantum for example) to near abstraction (Julie Dennis). The were quite a few typologies/ typology based displays – perhaps the most poignant of which was Natalie Cheetham’s “Life before loss”.
  • Much of the material would not have looked out of place in BJP. There was a small selection of what I might consider “straight” documentary including Karl Ballantyne’s Boom and Bust and Marc Johnston’s Rampworx and a wider selection of material which I think broadly fits the documentary category.
  • There were several interesting takes on using photography to explore mental states – of which The Life within my mind (Eleanor Armour) and Halfway up and halfway down the mountain (Penelope Peel) had the most immediate impact on me.
  • Other sets which stick in my mind are Pot-bound (Lauren McGuiness) – a slightly humorous exploration of pot plants given as gifts – and Paolo Luccardi’s Deserted Land – a well observed study of abandoned buildings slowly falling into decay, but still bearing the traces of the occupants and their various activities.

Overall I found the show really enjoyable – there was plenty to provoke thought and inspire, some reassurance that the kind of work I like is not far off the beaten track and similarly some reassurance that the sort of work I think I produce best seems to be of a suitable standard.

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