Blogs

Volunteer Blog

At Stills we have a fantastic team of front-of-house volunteers who generously give up a few hours each week to support Stills and welcome visitors into the space. As a valued part of our team we invited our volunteers to write a blog post for us, sharing their thoughts and experiences of being at Stills. We’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to two of our team, Dave Molnar and Yi-Chieh Chiu who discuss their relationship with Stills and the similarities between Lewis Baltz’ landscapes and the touristification of Edinburgh. 


 

I came to Edinburgh to attend Edinburgh College of Art and earn my MFA. I am an artist and photographer. Even before my arrival here I had heard of Stills, having researched galleries and photo-related organizations in the city. In considering what to write about I keep coming back to how rather singular Stills is, but I can’t quite stress it enough. I have worked at a similar place in my home state in the US, and know of several others, but there are not many. To have an all-encompassing center for education, display, access, supplies, books, resources, artists’ talks and events; it is something that should not be taken for granted. The staff is small, but their dedication and effort is incredible. I have always been more than happy to volunteer my time, effort and knowledge to making Stills the best place in Edinburgh to be (here comes the photo pun) “exposed” to photography!

Stills is a very unique place. There are few organizations like it in the world, and it is truly something to be proud of in the photographic community of Edinburgh, Scotland, and the entire UK. If you’ve never been, go. See whatever show they have on at the moment, take a class, browse the library… or just have a cup of tea and chat up the staff! Stills is a gem of a resource, and not one to be missed. I’m grateful for my time here, and only wish I could stay, and continue to be involved. I think they know how important they are to the community, but just humbly go about doing their thing, so I thought I would write a little bit about just how special they really are.

Dave Molnar, Minnesota, USA

If you fancy joinging our volunteer team check out our current opportunities


 

Lewis Baltz and Edinburgh

When I saw Lewis Baltz’ photograph of a Chevrolet car in this exhibition (Monterey, 1967), I couldn’t help but think of the Dinah Shore Chevy Show shown in 1956. At the end of this television show, Dinah Shore with a joyous tune encourages the audiences to “see the USA in your Chevrolet.” Dinah Shore’s message is extremely optimistic and American: for her, the American life is complete with a Chevy, a vehicle which has largely expanded their world.

Although the TV hostess implies that Americans have conquered and dominated nature, the Landscape in the show looks surprisingly awe-inspiring and magnificent. As a matter of fact, Chevrolet even published photo albums specifically about the astonishing natural environment of America which looks uncontaminated by human activities.

Lewis Baltz, however, looks at the American landscape differently. He is critical. He is anti-picturesque, iconoclastic, and demythologising. He turns his attention to the bland environments created by developers and he chooses an impersonal and cold style to present flattened images of desolate commercial and residential spaces. 

1961 Chevrolet Commercial With Dinah Shore

During my time invigilating in the gallery I have received divided opinions towards Baltz’ works. While some visitors are fascinated by Baltz’ unusual perspective, others find his works lacking direct engagement with the viewer. For them, his works are tasteless, forensic, and surveillance-like; these are not the type of landscape photographs they expect to see in Scotland.

Although these viewers express a rather negative response, their response in fact demonstrates that Baltz’ photographic intention is successful. It also indicates that the presence of Lewis Baltz in Edinburgh is significant at a time when Edinburgh faces a critical moment much like America in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Like Baltz in 1960’s and 70’s America, we are now surrounded by many constructions that will change our landscape permanently. The high streets have been inundated with shops dedicated to the tourism industry, and as a result, those streets have become lifeless - they are irrelevant to the life of people who live in Edinburgh. Moreover, Edinburgh City witnesses the prosperity of estate developments and building projects, some of which have put the city’s status as an UNESCO site in danger. The construction projects of hotels and student accommodation on Calton Hill, Cowgate, Causewayside, Leith Walk, and Haymarket will erase parts of the city that are historically important but which do not fit comfortably with the typical image of Scotland. These projects will change the cityscape in a destructive and irreversible way. For people who come from abroad, Edinburgh has long been equated with images of the Scottish identity, Scottish mythology, and Scottish Enlightenment. Nevertheless, those images have been used superficially and commercially to promote the latest developments which are imposing the most harmful impact upon the city.

Lewis Baltz’ works are not jolting and entertaining. His works undermine the American myth and show our complacency that has built a trap for ourselves. After seeing this exhibition, I contend that an investigation like Baltz’s has to be carried out to examine the damaged spaces of Edinburgh before it becomes too late.

 ‘Lewis Baltz with works by Carl Andre and Charlotte Posenenske’, Stills: Centre for Photography 2016. Photograph by Alan Dimmick

Yi-Chieh Chiu

Chiu, Yi-Chieh comes from Taiwan. He studied Classics until 2014 when he moved from Chicago to Dundee to join his partner, an Irishman in Scotland. He is now learning photography, printmaking, and Italian. He is also volunteering at Stills, a wonderful institution to work for. He very much admires John Thomson, a Victorian photographer from Edinburgh who had photographed Taiwan in 1870’s when this Pacific island was largely neglected by the Chinese Empire. Chiu, Yi-Chieh hopes he can make some contributions to the country of John Thomson by means of photography. 

More News

Resource Blog - PhotoLondon 2016

Photo London 2016

I’ve just returned from an exhausting, (but very stimulating!) trip to Photo London 2016 and the various off-site exhibitions running alongside.

With it being just the second year of the fair and not having attended last year, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the venue of Somerset House is a spectacular backdrop for a vast fair of nearly 100 commercial galleries, a selection of curated exhibitions and a programme of talks and panel discussions.

After stepping off the train at Kings Cross into pouring rain, I arrived drenched to the first talk of the fair by Richard Learoyd in conversation with Frish Brandt (President of Fraenkel Gallery, who represent Leayroyd). This turned out to be a great start, with a really open and refreshing talk about his approach and motivations for making work. I also caught a talk by Nadav Kander which traced his work through the years and presented the new Thames Estuary work he was showcasing at Flowers Gallery.

Day 2 saw a trip to The Photographers Gallery, where I was really pleased to discover that the show Double Take: Drawing and Photography was showing (on until 3 July), featuring some amazing work by László Moholy-Nagy, Běla Kolářová, Jiří Thýn and Richard Forster amongst others. It was also a good chance to see the Deutsch Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2016 too – my money is on Trevor Paglen this year!The Photographers Gallery

A quick walk back to Somerset House (with a Louis Theroux celeb-spot to boot!) to catch Katy Grennan in conversation with Phillip Prodger, followed by an honest, funny, and almost confrontational conversation between Mischka Henner and Philip Gefter.

Day 3 began at Beaconsfield Contemporary Art, with a tour of their beautiful, atmospheric gallery space by Marcel Feil, the deputy director of Artistic Affairs at Foam (Amsterdam). Beaconsfield have partnered with Foam to present Foam Talent: shaping the future of contemporary photography, displaying the work of 21 artists under the age of 35. This proved a fascinating and in-depth look at some of the best new photography, and highlights included Justin James Reed, Tom Callemin, Heikki Kaski, Cristian Vium and Manon Wertenbroek.

Across the river at Tate Britain, the exhibition Painting with Light brought together examples of work highlighting the relationship and influence these two mediums (and their respective practitioners) have on each other. The first room in particular had a strong Scottish representation with some beautiful works by Hill and Adamson, and other photography heavyweights such as Julia Margaret Cameron, PH Emerson and Alvin Langdon Coburn completing a memorable show.

I spent the remainder of the day exploring the other galleries and exhibitions at Somerset House: the curated exhibition Twelve by Craigie Horsfield was a welcome haven of calmness featuring a selection of his epic, yet quiet and contemplative portraits. The images were stunning, but it was his writings which I found to be surprisingly beautiful. There was also a great opportunity to learn about the work of Sergey Chilikov through the exhibition Photoprovocations. Chilikov was a contemporary of Boris Mikhailov, and emerged in the USSR in the 1970’s, (incidentally it was his image that was used for the cover of Beirut’s The Gulag Orkestar album!).

Other highlights from the fair included Yossi Milo, (presenting some exquisite work by Alison Rossiter), Bruno V. Roels at Gallery Fifty One, Lucien Hervé and Malike Sidibé at Galerie du jour agnès b. and Rolf Gallery from Buenos Aires, who were exhibiting work by Mariano Zuzunaga, Facundo de Zuviría, Marcos López and Humberto Rivas – overall probably my favourite presentation at the fair.

Chilikov    Zuzunaga    siskind

Day 4 was my last chance to catch “everything else” before I headed back North, so began with a trip to the Barbican, where the Martin Parr-curated exhibition Strange and Familiar was on. I’d read a little about the exhibition beforehand and its premise of ‘Britain as revealed by International Photographers’, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the range, depth and level of the photographers involved. Moving from a room full of Henri Cartier-Bresson images, to a room of Robert Frank, then Paul Strand, Sergio Larrain, Gary Winogrand, Rineke Dijkstra… you get the scale of this show! A name I wasn’t familiar with though was Shinro Ohtake, who’s presentation of hundreds of small-scale pictures was an enjoyable treat.

offprintFrom the Barbican I visited Tate Modern to see the Performing for the Camera exhibition. Beginning with a strong selection of classics by Charles Ray, Yves Klein and Aaron Siskind, this exhibition ticks all the boxes and includes a wide range of wonderful photographers, yet I found it somehow didn’t quite deliver the overall ‘wow-factor’ I’d anticipated. 

Filling half of the Turbine Hall was Offprint London - the independent publishing fair – featuring a vast number of stalls and some amazing photobooks. I was slightly overwhelmed by the selection on offer, but it’s definitely something I’ll head back to next year if I have more time.

I concluded my trip with a panel discussion between Hannah Starkey and Sophy Rickett, chaired by Alison Nordström, which provided an invigorating and inspiring end to the day. 

I got on the train back to Edinburgh feeling as though I’d had a quick, sharp shock of both Photography and London. Ready for a breather, but excited about the wonderful possibilities of the medium.

Evan Thomas
Technical Manager

 

Images (top to bottom, left to right): PhotoLondon 2016 at Somerset House, Jiří Thýn at The Photographers Gallery, Sergey Chilikov, Mariano Zuzunaga, Aaron Siskind, Offprint London, Turbine Hall, Tate Modern.

Engagement Blog

The Lewis Baltz, Carl Andre and Charlotte Posenenske exhibition has been open for two weeks now and I'm finding myself making up excuses to spend more time in the gallery than usual.

Lewis Baltz holds a special place in my heart. Every now and again we stumble across a catalyst that ignites something within us, and one of my ‘stumbles’ was over a body of work by Lewis Baltz. When at a crossroads, after a failed attempt studying Philosophy, I came across his work between trips to the job centre and signing up for an A-Level in photography. The deceptive simplicity of his imagery sparked my latent inner photographer and sent me on a photographic path that has brought me to Stills, where, jaw-dropped, I get to enjoy his work in the flesh. 

Alas, I cannot spend all day in the gallery as we have a full house of Tasters to deliver which will allow you to further explore the themes in the exhibition.

Our exhibition tasters will be led by artist David Grinly, where we will navigate Edinburgh’s streets and explore methods for using architectural imagery to convey certain viewpoints.

For the younger audience we are linking up with Children’s Art Week to host an afternoon of photogram construction, using the textures and industrial materials present in the exhibition to inspire our prints. 

  Baltz Photogram

For those interested in exploring the themes in the exhibition and creating your own photographic response we have created a workshop to encourage you to explore architectural developments in your local area.

Suitable for all ages, individuals or groups, we would love to see the photographs you take. Simply tag them on Twitter @StillsEdinburgh 

Download workshop here.

 

In other news we have had the pleasure of working with the Banyan project at the Multi Cultural Family Base who are hosting a relaunch and Art Sale at Out of the Blue Drill Hall on Tuesday 24th May. We wish them all the best with the auction, especially as some of our Resource Users have kindly donated work.

We are talking to Glasgow Women’s Library and Young Sahliya about an exciting project based around our future Jo Spence exhibition and are in partnership talks with Luminate Festival for this year’s Photography Challenge. As they say - watch this space!

 

A hive of activity leading up to Summer will keep us all busy, but if you need to contact me,  you'll find me in the gallery, probably being warned for the 100th time to take a step back from the prints.

 

 

Claire Cochrane
Engagement Producer

 

Art Sale Poster

 

 

 

 

 

Director's Blog

We are delighted to kick off our new staff and volunteer blogs with an insight to Director, Ben Harman's musings on the past couple of weeks.

A friend of mine once self-published a zine with the deliberately playful subtitle: Yesterday’s News Tomorrow. I like the way that these words could describe the enduring impact of some art from the past and the phrase has been on my mind over the last couple of weeks in the lead-up to the launch of our new exhibition at Stills: Lewis Baltz with works by Carl Andre and Charlotte Posenenske.

Whilst the display is primarily a showcase of three series of photographic works by Lewis Baltz, it is intended to locate his practice within the context that he preferred, that of contemporary art, rather than a more limited, medium-specific context of photography. Radical is not too strong a word to use for the photographs, sculpture, installation and works on paper in our exhibition despite the fact that some of the objects are more than fifty years old. 

Working with the rest of the Stills team as well as various lenders and the exhibition co-curator, Sebastien Montabonel, it has been a pleasure to help get the exhibition installed and open. This is a timely return of Baltz’s work to Scotland after a break of exactly forty years. Appropriately he was included in Recent American Still Photography at the Fruitmarket Gallery in 1976, the first exhibition organized by the Scottish Photography Group who went on to establish Stills in 1977.

Over the last week I also had the opportunity to think about Stills’ history during the installation of a display for Filmhouse, Edinburgh. Running for one month and timed to coincide with the Photography on Film programme at Filmhouse, our display in the café and adjacent corridor includes twenty Stills exhibition posters dating from 1978 to the present day as well as recently produced photographs from a series titled Alva by the Edinburgh-based photographer David Grinly. So much of the last couple of weeks have been about looking back in order to look forwards, taking inspiration from the past in order to make exciting plans for the future. All this reminds me of Man Ray’s brilliant comment about being asked what it was like to be ahead of his time:

I’m of my time, you are behind the times.

 

Ben Harman, Director, Stills

Installation shot

The installation in progress last week with photographs by Lewis Baltz in the foreground

 

Charlotte Poseneske

A work by Charlotte Posenenske. Unpacked, assembled and waiting to be installed.


Filmhouse installation

Installation view of Stills’ exhibition at Filmhouse, Edinburgh



 

 

   

 

 

 

 

Be Inspired in 2016

We still have a daunting number of dark days until Spring, so until the equinox comes along to brighten our lives why not #beinspired to learn, explore and discover events at Stills and beyond.

Upcoming events at Stills include;

ARTIST TALK: Dan Holdsworth
THURSDAY, 17 MARCH 2016 6.00PM

SCREENING & ARTIST TALK: 'Lure of the Lost' Anthony Schrag with Stuart Armitt
WEDNESDAY, 23 MARCH 2016 6 - 7.30pm

 

Image: Spacial Object no.17, Spatial Objects (2015) Dan Holdsworth Courtesy the artist.

 

 
A long list of Stills coursesweekend workshops and Project days are available to book now. What are you waiting for – take the opportunity to develop skills that you have been eager to learn or brush up on.  

 

   

If absorbing, chilling-out and studying is more your thing then why don’t you come and visit our exhibitions followed by a brew in our comfy library?

The Joseph McKenzie and Photographs from the Margaret Morris Collection exhibition is on display until 9 April 2016.

 
     
Why not check out our friends at Streetlevel in Glasgow. They have a great looking programme of exhibitions, talks and events to help keep inspiration flowing through the short days.  

We are spoiled for choice in Edinburgh if you are looking to enhance creative skills. Have you checked out Edinburgh PrintmakersEdinburgh Sculpture Studios and Process Studios range of courses. It’s not a question of should you do a course, but a question of which courses to do!

A fantastic way to start the year and #beinspired!

For other ways to discover what is happening in photography in Stills and beyond why not follow us on Twitter @StillsEdinburgh
   

 

Stills @ Edinburgh Art Fair

We are looking forward to joining the 11th Edinburgh Art Fair from 13 - 15th November this week, with exhibiting artists Caroline Douglas, David Grinly and Evan Thomas.

Open daily from 11am

For more info visit: www.artedinburgh.com  

Jill Todd Photographic Awardees Announced

CONGRATULATIONS to this years Jill Todd Photographic Awardees!

Winners (in alphabetical order):  

Matt Hay
Alan Knox
Mhairi Law 

Highly Commended: 

Sekai Macheche 
James Parker
Jill Quigley
Nic Rue
Sam Wood 
Heather Yates. 

Awards will be made during the Private View at Stills on the evening of the 6th November. 

IPS Season of Photography 2015

The Institute for Photography in Scotland (IPS) is excited to announce the launch of the 2015 Season of Photography – an umbrella title for a series of lively exhibitions and events taking place at multiple venues throughout Scotland from mid-April to the end of September 2015.

The Season illuminates the wealth of activity around photography in Scotland. This includes exhibitions and events at Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow, Stills, Edinburgh, the National Galleries of Scotland, University of Glasgow, University of St. Andrews, and the National Museums of Scotland as well as exhibitions taking place across the country, from Fife FOTOSPACE to regional museum venues in Linlithgow, Kirkcaldy, Clydebank, Irvine and Hamilton.

A unique feature is the range of self-organised artists events: Six Foot Gallery’s Month of Photography, ACTINIC, a festival dedicated to alternative, historic and new analogue photo related arts, and the second Blueprint, which explores the relationship between photo-mechanical printing and photography. There will be exhibitions by photography collectives and platforms such as Fèis, the Forgotten Collective, Document Scotland and Goose Flesh, as well as displays of work from photography associations, such as Queens Park Camera Club, and the five camera clubs across Fife. Talks, seminars and hands-on workshops will take place throughout the Season at various venues.

The Season highlights, celebrates and promotes the range of photography activities taking place. From the historical innovations of Anna Atkins and the American pioneer Lee Miller, to the contemporary narratives of Maud Sulter, the Magnum Photographic Agency and Scotland-based photography collectives, the Season offers something for everyone and tells multiple stories about the diverse ways in which photography is used as a creative tool.

Download the brochure

Beyond Words: Martin Parr book signing

Beyond Words: Martin Parr book signing
Thursday 20 August 6.30pm - 7pm 

Free, no booking necessary

Beyond Words and Stills are delighted to welcome back Martin Parr for a signing session on Thursday 20th August.

Parr is one of the world’s most prominent photographers and president of the prestigious photo agency Magnum. He is also a prolific author of photobooks and, in the three volumes of The Photobook; a History co-authored with Gerry Badger, has done much to elevate the status of books within the medium. Martin last did a signing at Stills three years ago and, since then, has published nearly twenty titles. These include a new edition of Phaidon’s retrospective, The Non-Conformists, Black Country Stories, Paris, Hong Kong Parr and Life’s a Beach.

The event is just 30 mins long, so don’t miss out and arrive early to grab a copy! If you are unable to attend but would be interested in reserving a signed copy of one of Martin’s title's, please email info@beyondwords.co.uk for further details.

 

 

The 2015 Jill Todd Photographic Award

Stills will host the annual Jill Todd Photographic Award for the first time. The award aims to promote early careers in photography and is open to all photography graduates in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The Award takes the form of a competition, with applicants being asked to submit a body of work of between 5 and 12 images for consideration. Three winning artists and a selection of commended entrants will be selected to showcase their work at Stills.

Full submission details are available here.

Entry is via www.jilltoddphotoaward.com. Deadline 31st August, 5pm.

JTPA Episode 1 Open Call from Jill Todd Photo Award on Vimeo

JTPA Episode 2 Exhibition from Jill Todd Photo Award on Vimeo.

 

JTPA Episode 3 from Jill Todd Photo Award on Vimeo.

JTPA Episode 4 from Jill Todd Photo Award on Vimeo.

 

JTPA Episode 5 from Jill Todd Photo Award on Vimeo.

 

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