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Cecilia Di Paolo MadeTo Be Loved

Cecilia Di Paolo: Made to be loved

Not the Final Major Project at HAF

When you hear the words ‘graduate show’, the heart tends to sink. So it was with some trepidation that HOT’s Lauris Morgan-Griffiths went along to Hastings Arts Forum to see Not the Final Major Project, a graduate collaboration photography show between PhotoHastings and Brighton Fringe. But she couldn’t have been more wrong; her fears were totally unfounded. It is an excellent, surprising and interesting show.

Curator Sarah French put out an open call to recent graduates experimenting and working in contemporary photography. She received 40 submissions, refining those down to 17 who, remarkably, were mainly  female  – which is reflected in the show. I only say ‘remarkably’ because of evidence of a more male bias in other shows. Inevitably, there are different approaches to the form; analogue, digital, black and white, colour and even a sculpture head created out of thermal imagery and 3-D printing.

Hayleigh Longman our ship was our spaceship

Hayleigh Longman: Our ship was our spaceship

If techniques are varied there are also loose similarities of theme; the natural world, death, mystery, memories, identity, family and childhood; as well as folklore, memory – genuine, fantasy and imagined. And the abstract.

The artists’ research highlights their curiosity, imagination and originality. The images have an integrity to them and the stories behind them intrigue. Photography is catching the ephemeral quality of light, and the photographers are grasping for memories, thoughts or experiences to create them symbolically.

Because all the photographers’ work is of such a high standard, it seems a shame to even single one out. Each viewer will have an individual image that speak to them. So I mention only a few with their stories.

Childhood and memories are a big theme, trying to make some sense of them, relive them, explore identity. Hannah Morgan’s work is intriguing. She keeps a detailed sketch book which is shown alongside some darkroom test shots. Her images seem to depict snatched thoughts, ephemeral fragmentary feelings and moments of remembered past events.

Hannah Morgan precious fragments

Hannah Morgan: Precious fragments

Days after the EU referendum, Daisy O’Neill, Irish but with little connection with the country, applied for an Irish passport. (The Irish embassy in London apparently received around 8,000 applications from UK residents between July 2016 and the end of June 2017 compared with 689 in 2015.) And that led to her discovering the countryside and her family, revisiting the farm where her grandfather grew up, where her father spent his summers and where she had gone only once when she was five.

Death can bring up different emotions: Richard Burniston felt after his parents died that their memories of him as a child had died. Revisiting a valley where he had been forbidden to play, he imagined himself as a proxy 10-year-old child and who and what he would have been doing.

Tottie Arnold’s That’s how the light gets in, the title of a Leonard Cohen song, is a way to remember her dead husband. Her screen of branches, viewed through rainy windows, helped her with her grief as she traced the absence, pathos, confusion and mystery left after his death.

Cecilia di Paolo’s image, Made to be loved, is an idiosyncratic examination of modern life; technology distancing us from the norm of social life. She is concerned with the beautification and super-humanisation of sex dolls, shifting the boundaries between human and object –making  the idea of falling in love with an object real.

Richard Burniston Hogsmill Valley (26th November 1977)

Richard Burniston: Hogsmill Valley (26th November 1977)

The title of this graduate show, Not the Final Major Project, reflects the feelings at graduation – all that work, a degree, and then what? This show gives an opportunity for emerging artists to give their work a further life by exhibiting to a wider audience.


Curator: Sarah French.
Photographers: Tottie Aarvold, Richard Burniston, Hayleigh Longman, Cheryl, Eleonora Agostini,  Hannah Morgan,  Gökhan Tanrıöver, Elena Kollatou and Leonidas Toumpanos, Harley Marjoram, Daisy O’Neil, Laura Dow, Cecilia Di Paolo, George Hinks, Laura Medcalf,  Emma Pearce, Chloe Louise Thomas, Megan Staple.

The exhibiton is on until 17 October at Hastings Arts Forum, 36 Marina, St Leonards-on-Sea TN38 0BU and is a collaboration between Photohastings and Brighton Photo Fringe (BPF18) festivals.

Posted 06:59 Wednesday, Oct 10, 2018 In: Photography

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