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Please note: RPS House is closed for our exhibition install. We will be open again from 10am on Friday 9th August 2024.

Marijalees Contemporary 1A
CREDIT: Marija Lees

Southwest Contemporary Group - July meeting report

Southwest Contemporary Group

July 2023

The Southwest Contemporary Group met on Sunday 23rd July at Dartington in Devon.   Ten members were present, including two who were attending for the first time.  

The meeting began with a small amount of routine business.   This included a note that the Contemporary Group Bursary for Rural Schools has been awarded to Broadhembury Church Primary School in Devon.

The majority of the day was spent discussing members’ work and various ideas and concepts.   As usual, physical images were considered first with the switch to projected images taking place shortly after the excellent lunch.

Paul Kirby has embarked on the production of a photobook focussing on all the bridges across the River Avon in Bristol with the title of ‘Geometry and Life’.   In particular the book would focus on the question as to what each of the bridges is about.   During the morning the group examined five prints before focussing on the whole draft in the form of projected images during the afternoon.   There was some discussion on the merits of monochrome verses colour and how to best represent the progression along the river.   The group now eagerly awaits the next instalment in the production.

Double Pointy John Evans Jones
CREDIT: Evans Jones
Settling John Evans Jones
CREDIT: John Evans-Jones

John Evans-Jones presented a series of images of hand gestures from well-known works of art accompanied by illustration from the early pioneering work on their meaning dating from 1644.   The group discussed the way in which gestures could change meaning with time and their variation between different cultures.   This was a prelude to a series of images that John had taken at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park.   One typical image is included as an illustration.

Tony Kirby shared fourteen images taken close to home in Exmouth and all illustrating psycho-geography.   Psycho-geography is defined as the emotional response to a particular place and Tony’s work involves the capture or expression of this through the medium of photography.

Martin Howse shared a set of eleven medium-format, analogue, darkroom-printed, monochrome images taken around Hembury Fort near to Honiton.   Much attention was paid to the tonal variation and the way in which the images captured the atmosphere.

Carol Ballinger had been researching photomontage in preparation for workshops on the subject of trees with young people aged 12-16 during the summer.   The intention is to focus one piece of work on forests and the other on aspects of deforestation.   As an illustration she showed some earlier work undertaken in Dartington Gardens with the local school.

Graham Hodgson had been experimenting with the rearrangement of aerial photographs obtained from a well-known website.   In one case he had taken an image of Iowa, a city with a 1km square grid system, and rearranged the squares so that the colours formed a chessboard.   In a second image he had ‘tidied up’ Las Vegas by arranging its grid system.   Finally, he had constructed what appeared to be an aerial view of an island but was in fact a composite of various pieces of coastline, all featuring well-known ships.

Adrian Hough shared further images of the Bishop’s Palace Garden in Exeter, this time focussing on various images of a statue of the Trinity.   Its not possible to include any of the images in Concept as this may preclude their possible use in other ways.

Hembury Fort Martin Howse
CREDIT: Martin Howse
Hembury Fort Vivien Howse
CREDIT: Vivien Howse

Moving onto Digital Projected Images, Marija Lees began by showing images taken in the centre of Exeter.   Here she had visited a part of the city centre which has recently undergone a major renovation and redevelopment whilst retaining many of the older buildings.   Reflecting on Tony’s work with psycho-geography, Marija reflected that both the area and the images make her feel warm.

Vivian Howse had also visited Hembury Fort but in her case had taken digital monochrome infra-red photographs of the area around the fort.   These included an ancient moat, sunken walkways, an earth-bank, rotten trees, roots and young leaves.   There was a much interest in the way that the different wave-lengths involved had not only produced different tones but had also provided a different emphasis of various features.   The atmosphere of the images was contrasted with those taken by Martin.

ORD29 Ken Holland
CREDIT: Ken Holland FRPS
ORD50 Ken Holland
CREDIT: Ken Holland FRPS

Ken Holland spoke about the idea of ‘Ordinary Places’ drawing on images from Elliott Erwitt and quoting that “Photography is an art of observation; it’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place.”   After showing three of Elliott’s images, Ken then showed a series of photographs of ordinary places, firstly in Devon and then elsewhere with most of them including signs.

This led quite naturally on to John Evans-Jones showing images of ordinary people doing ordinary things in the form of sequences of images taken in the same place but several seconds apart.   He then developed this theme by focussing in on the concept of 'settling’ and ten different ways in which settling could be defined.   He illustrated this with the ways in which people settle or fail to settle on a beach.

After Paul Kirby’s projected images of bridges in Bristol referred to above, the meeting closed with a series of photographs from Graham Hodgson all of which had been edited so as to include a deliberate error.   This included one image from each of the members of the Group.   Reassuringly, everybody manged to spot the ‘error’ in their own image.

Marijalees Contemporary 2A
CREDIT: Marija Lees

The next meeting will be held in Dartington on Sunday 3rd December, beginning at 10.30 and ending by 17.00.   Any member of the Contemporary Special Interest Group who lives in the Southwest of the country and who would like to join us at the next meeting is welcome.   If you have not been along before then, on this occasion only, please contact Ken Holland at

Adrian Hough ARPS