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Crushed missile by Peter Kennard

Crushed missile by Peter Kennard

Politically charged imagery

Photology – a monthly event presenting discussions around photography from some of the most significant artists, curators and writers working today- has been an integral part of the PhotoHastings calendar since the events begun in 2012. Sarah French writes.

After a hiatus this year, Photology is back in spectacular fashion. Organised now by Alex Brattell & Becky Beasley, 30 October 2016 saw Peter Kennard at the JD Bar giving insights into his career as a photographic collage artist, who has received supportive feedback from the elusive artist, Banksy with his politically-charged imagery.

Peter Kennard trained at Slade School of Art in the 1960’s. His first job was as a photographer for the Working Press, where he was given the freedom to create montages to illustrate the newspaper; once gone to print, he was in the London pubs selling it. This grassroots and communal approach to producing art has been critical to his practice.

Kennard’s political and satirical work has now received international recognition. On a populist level, his montages are instantly recognisable as they are regularly carried as placards by protestors, most often by members of CND to campaign non-violently against nuclear weapons. His collaboration with Cat Phillipps as KennardPhillipps were behind the widely-shared image Photo Op; a composite of a burning Iraqi oil field, with Tony Blair taking a selfie added to the foreground.

KennardPhillips montage

KennardPhillips montage

This year Kennard had a solo exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, Unofficial War Artists. At the Photology event, he was selling one of his most recent publications @ earth, published by Tate, the blurb bearing an acknowledgement from the elusive Banksy reading: “I take my hat off to you Sir”.

Despite these achievements and the wide spread of his work, Peter Kennard did not assume the audience knew his work and encouraged participation. He delivered a clear, engaging presentation of images, first giving historical context to the photomontage medium with an introduction to its use within the Dada art movement, currently celebrating its centenary year, followed by the Russian constructivists Rodchenko and El Lissitzky.

The real strength of Kennard’s career is just how relevant his photomontages are today. When presenting the 1985 montage Thatcher cuts healthcare, where the then-prime minister enthusiastically holds forth an open pair of scissors ready to cut support from a newborn’s incubator, Kennard righty speculated that Thatcher’s face could quite easily be interchanged with that of Jeremy Hunt. On the day the Chilcot inquiry was announced this year, Kennard was projecting the collage of Blair, turned into a moving image, onto the building opposite where the report was published.

Next: John Stezaker

This month sees another internationally renowned photographic collage artist visit Hastings. The next Photology event will present the work of John Stezaker, who has previously exhibited at the Saatchi and Whitechapel Gallery. His collages examine truth, representation and the subjective manipulation of images using found imagery including Hollywood portraits and postcard scenes. Stezaker will be in conversation with writer & critic John Slyce at The Palace Emporium, Monday 28 November, 8pm. Entry is £3. All money raised goes to the artist.


Posted 11:15 Wednesday, Nov 9, 2016 In: Photography

1 Comment

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  1. Barry Axford

    The newspaper was called the ‘Workers Press’ (official daily newspaper of The Workers Revolutionary Party ‘WRP’)and Peter was NOT a photographer but a photomontagist producing daily images in the same way as a journalist or a cartoonist.

    A photomontage is NOT a collage. A photomontage rarely combines more that two images which are separate and often very different but when combined they portray another image/view/question/statement!

    Comment by Barry Axford — Wednesday, Nov 9, 2016 @ 20:43

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