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Gary on TV

Gary on TV

Gary Willis, Spirit of Invention artist

Gary Willis is a Spirit of Invention artist about photography whose contribution to the celebrations of the inventor John Logie Baird will be part of a group exhibition at Electro Studios 10–12 May. Jude Montague, who is curating the show with Royal College of Art graduate Chris Simpson, takes the opportunity to chat to some of the artists about their process.

Gary Willis is a photographer and and also has a professional career as an  advertising art director. He has over 40 years of experience, thinking up and creating ideas that sell products or services.

Looking back, he reflects that he has been lucky in his career to have had the chance to work with quite a few famous and infamous photographers. His job gave him the opportunity of soaking up how they operate, how they tackled the briefs that Gary set and the joy of being delighted with their vision and skills.

Recently rekindling his love of photography with more of his free time, Gary is taking what he calls “snaps for myself” rather than commissioning and directing photography for clients. It illustrates his modesty that he calls his photos snaps, but also the word does imply a very immediate response to visual impressions and taking pictures on the hoof. His words on this read like a poem:

Enjoy looking, seeing and snapping.
Usually little sequences.
Anything that catches the eye.
From big skies to ever-changing seas.
Abstract, texture, colour, mono…

Gary loves his rootless role as a photographer – not having to answer or be accountable to anyone. “Just you and your view of the world, all edited and framed within the viewfinder. So personal. So subjective.”

'Food for Thought' 2 - Gary Willis

‘Food for Thought’ 1 – Gary Willis

For him photography is still a thrill, to catch that moment in time, that discovery no-one else has spotted or recorded.

“Every day on my dog walks with Lollie, I arrive within 7 minutes at the top of the West Hill, Hastings. Catching some ‘me’ time to formulate and plan ideas and projects or simply enjoying  the wonderful, everchanging sea and sky, I record anything that catches the eye. Sometimes small things spark a sequence. Then I catalogue a few on Instagram – @garywillis.snaps.

Gary talks about public engagement. “We live in crazy, extreme and somewhat divisive times. So, whenever I have the chance to publicly exhibit in recent group shows, I refrain from wall-hung photographs or photographs that are ‘just’ aesthetically pleasing. I prefer to use this chance to engage the public with photography as a force-for-good.

“To highlight social injustice or personal pain, to show our humane side.
Seeking to come up with something unexpected – not just for awareness, but to hopefully generate donations.”

Food for Thought – Photopia Spring Exhibition, April 2023.
Food poverty and food insecurity for Dom’s Food Mission, Hastings.

'Food for Thought' 1 - Gary Willis

‘Food for Thought’ 2 – Gary Willis

The installation showcases photographs of folk from the food bank queue becoming the mouthpieces for the call to action: “Help put food into these mouths.” The piece dramatically presented on table mats and as place settings down a long table with ‘menu cards’ spelling out food poverty statistics.

Other photography pieces:

Causing a Stink – Photopia Summer Exhibition, July 2023
Art Defends Nature/Extinction Rebellion Hastings & St. Leonards, August-September 2023. Poo in the sea and water companies’ unlawful negligence for Hastings & St. Leonards Clean Water Action Group and XR Hastings.

'Causing a Stink' 1 - Gary Willis

‘Causing a Stink’ 1 – Gary Willis

Gary Willis will be one of the participating artists in the Spirit of Invention festival to celebrate the 100th anniversary of John Logie Baird’s invention. The exhibition runs Friday 10 to Sunday 12 May at Electro Studios, 5 Seaside Road, St Leonards-on-Sea.
The opening event is Friday 10 May, 6–8pm.
The exhibition is open on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 May from noon to 4pm.

Gary Willis – Photopia

Gary Willis on Instagram

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Posted 14:14 Tuesday, Apr 16, 2024 In: Photography

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