Talks – Julian Germain, Sacha Craddock
31st March 2014
Visiting speakers: Julian Germain and Sacha Craddock
The BA Photography course last week welcomed two very different speakers who both gave excellent talks to our students.
Julian Germain came on Thursday 20 March and gave us a highly engaging talk. It covered his career from his early days when he worked in a relatively traditional documentary photography tradition in the 1980s, and then on to his more ideas led approach. His classic project on an industrial down in steep decline, “Steel works: Consett, from Steel to Tortilla Chips” incorporates both his own images and an archive of photographs by local amateur photographer Tommy Harris (who Julian greatly admired). Many of his books and exhibitions use other people’s images; how they see their world informs the projects, and he never feels like an outsider looking in, but someone who has been made welcome like a family member.
This approach is again apparent in his wonderfully warm book, “For Every Minute You Are Angry You Loose Sixty Seconds of Happiness”, an affectionate documentary portrait of an elderly widower he befriended at a football match, Charles Snelling. Alongside revealing moments and details of Charlie’s home taken by Julian, we are shown photo albums and framed photos of Charlie and his late wife.
More recent on-going projects he discussed included his fascinating series, “Classroom Portraits” and a long running project in the shanty towns of Sao Paolo where he gives cameras to the people he has got to know there to get a uniquely insiders view of this marginalised community. Of course much of this work was shocking and sad, and Julian is unsentimental in his approach. There is, though, a passionate humanity in evidence and he engages deeply with his subjects where we see the richness of apparently unspectacular lives.
After Julian’s talk, students and staff commented on how much they had been inspired and wanted to go out immediately to make more images, a testament to the power of the work as well as his ability as a speaker to engage his audience.
To see more of Julian’s work, visit www.juliangermain.com
The following day we were fortunate to welcome Sacha Craddock. Sacha is the driving force behind the highly influential New Contemporaries show, an annual touring exhibition of art work by recent graduates that includes photography and video alongside painting, sculpture and conceptual works. As with the Turner Prize, the selection of work is often provocative and uncompromising but always includes unforgettable pieces. She talked us through many pieces that featured in this year’s show, sharing some entertaining anecdotes about the selection process and the artists themselves.
Sacha is a forceful and charismatic champion of art. In her vivid talk she was forthright in her views, tolerating no vacillation on questions of what constitutes good art.. She was very persuasive in telling the students present why they should apply for New Contemporaries as soon as they graduate. We all look forward to seeing our students represented in the show soon.