For Art’s Sake – Ester Lafferty, festival director of Oxfordshire Artsweeks

9:38am Thursday 20th March 2014 in Art & Exhibitions

The Oxford Times: Esther Lafferty

Esther Lafferty

Ester Lafferty on the events ahead that will explore analogue photography

These days anyone who is anyone has a camera phone and can send digital images of themselves and the view from their holiday balcony to hundreds of friends around the world in an instant. While many of these are mere snapshots, most avid digital camera users can on occasion capture a truly striking scene, and as teenagers by their thousands use their everyday pictures to record their perceptions and emotions and share them with others, what’s the future for art photography?

I have been talking recently to David Parker-Woolway, a West Oxfordshire photographer who is hard at work preparing for his Oxfordshire Artweeks exhibition in Faringdon’s Old Town Hall this spring. His response to this deluge of digital imagery is the painstaking construction of incredible photographic panoramics, each composition a week’s work, building several hundred images of the same place in different lights, from different perspectives and different distances into a representation of the original landscape or iconic building, such as the Radcliffe Camera. And, interestingly, these alternative visions, these manipulations of reality that contrast so strikingly with the seamless panoramic images that digital photography has made so easy, may be a truer represen-tation of how we see things.

The popularity of digital photography has made snap-shots of famous landmarks and views ten a penny. But how often do you actually see that perfect tourist broch-ure image, the landmark clear against a blue sky without traffic and scaffolding, passers-by and a crisp packet blown by the breeze? Walking through the city centre or along the RThames, for example, we actually see many variations of ‘the view’ as we pass by, which our brain amasses into one memory, a place reconstructed rath-er than a perfect represent-ation, with certain details which hold the eye emph- asised more than others.

While Parker-Woolway uses photography as the starting point for the ‘photographic illustration’ of a scene, I’ve also heard much this week about lomography, a style of experimental photo- graphy that dates back to the 1990s when some Austrian students, with a small and enigmatic Russian camera (the Lomo-CA, hence lomo-graphy) shot ‘from the hip’, almost mindlessly and often without looking through the viewfinder, with surprisingly striking results. Belying today’s trend to digitisation, this analogue movement has grown rapidly: lomographical effects are in vogue, a stylized surrealism characterised by oversaturated colours and light leakage, optical distor-tions, unexpected prismatic effects, and other qualities avoided or corrected by traditional photographers.

I’m excited to announce that for Artweeks, in April and May, the O3 Gallery, the Old Fire Station and The Jam Factory in Oxford are hosting a series of exhibitions and workshops exploring and celebrating creative analogue photography and photographic practices which embrace low quality exposure (Lo-Fi), prioritising aesthetic effect over digital accuracy. It’s time to get up in the loft, slot a roll of film into that old camera and revel in serendipity — let’s see where it can take you.

To see a selection of David Parker-Woolway’s work visit www.parker-woolway.co.uk

For more information on Oxfordshire Artweeks, an artists’ open studios event with over 400 venues open across the county, May 3–26, visit www.artweeks.org

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