Contemporary Conference Report - April 2017

13 April 2017

SIG: Contemporary

Yan Preston's work on Mother River - the River Yangtze has been exhibited in China, Dubai, Dublin and now at Impressions Gallery, York, among other locations. Yan's presentation began by showing several 19th century photos from her background research, the detailed planning needed to allow access across frozen tundra, problems of travel on dirt tracks with sheer drops in mountainous regions of Tibet plus needs for oxygen due to the heights involved. An epic journey to fulfil her self-set objective of 63 5x4 inch film images at precise 100km intervals from source to sea.

Polly Braden showed a selection of her photos from the River Lea project, carried out with David Campany before the London Olympics site construction. Polly then moved to her ongoing personal work on London's Square Mile, then to her work on people with learning disabilities and with autism. Her current work, following up on this, is about how the criminal justice system leaves such people in a state of limbo without suitable support. Polly shared with us the difficulties of obtaining releases for her photos and, with her current work in progress, addressing decisions about how to show issues involved without showing content that could be recognised as particular individuals.

Later in the day, many attendees set out their own work, as photobooks or as prints, reviewed and commented on by all, including Yan and Polly, who were impressed by seeing that we were all working on projects, not just showing stand-alone photos.

In all, we had a day that fully met the ethos of the Group.

Some comments received. There is a further selection on the linked pdf.

"Probably the best presentations I have had the pleasure of experiencing."

“I thought it was an excellent event.  Yan Preston was one of the best speakers I’ve seen at any event - really very interesting.  Polly Braden too provided a very insightful presentation.”

"Yan Preston is a great speaker - and a real 21st century adventurer. It was a wonderful treat to hear her story first hand today at the RPS Contemporary Group conference."


Photo: Y21, Shangri-La County, Yunnan Province, Tibet. ©Yan Preston, with permission for RPS Contemporary Group blog use only. Note: this image has been cropped to meet the format required by the web design; the full image is in the linked pdf.