Photography

AMBIT Artist Talks

At the end of May, Sasha Buchanan alerted readers of this Blog to AMBIT, an exhibition of photography showing across two renowned venues. AMBIT celebrates new and diverse approaches to photographic image making in Scotland, and the participating artists deploy diverse approaches, including the everyday in social landscape, performative and object based intersections with photography, alternative processes embracing hybrids between photography and printmaking, and themes from the theatrical and mythical, to those of gender and citizenship. See Sasha’s original post here.

The videos posted recently via YouTube are from Csilla Kozma, Edyta Majewska, Katy Hundertmark, the Highlands-based photographer Iain Sarjeant, and Matthew Arthur Williams – see the videos below. Each short video includes narration from the artist on the thoughts and ideas behind their work.

A contrasting record of contemporary Scotland is offered by Scottish photographer Iain Sarjeant. Whilst being based in the Highlands of Scotland Sarjeant has travelled the length and breadth of the country to create a startling yet understated document of everyday Scotland, documenting common place yet often overlooked landscapes to create a visual record of a nation in flux. 

Katy Hundertmark is a German born artist based in Edinburgh. Her photographic practice employs performance as a way of inhabiting the photographic space. In ‘Studies in Gravitation’ Hundertmark revisits the performative potential of photography through a series of photographs that reintroduce the self as performer and capture her attempt of grasping the intangible.

The performative possibilities of photographic images are at the core of Hungarian born Csilla Kozma, whose most recent body of work explores the idiosyncratic nature of the Mordançage process. Kozma’s unique and expressive prints explore the representation of the figure and self through a post-photographic lens, utilising the potentiality of alternative photographic processes to evoke tension and mystery whilst creating her own photographic reality. 

Similarly Edyta Majewska turns the camera on herself as she documents the arduous process of applying for British Citizenship. Majewska, a Polish born artist who has been based in Glasgow for over twenty years, turns her experience of being an Eastern European national in Post-Brexit Britain into 'Other White', a moving and immersive photographic installation and a timely record of the precarious and hostile political climate of modern day Britain.

Matthew Arthur Williams’ series ‘In Conflict’ is a collaborative project that stems from a personal quest developed through conversations with friends, family and peers. Williams’ photographs address forms of acceptance and surviving in a British context described as ‘other’.

AMBIT is a partnership between Street Level Photoworks (Glasgow), and Stills (Edinburgh), Scotland’s public venues dedicated to photography. The exhibition will be presented across both venues and is a joint venture aimed at showcasing some of the current tendencies and innovative talent from the photography sector in Scotland.


AMBIT Artist Talks

Saturday 22 June at 3pm
Free and all welcome.
Further information from:
http://www.streetlevelphotoworks.org/event/ambit-artist-talks


There’s Salt in Our Blood

There’s a common saying amongst fishing folk that we have “salt in our blood”. I feel that; a transcendent connection of sorts to the sea. As a born and bred fishing quine, I was taught to respect the waters that brought both tragedy and reward. I grew up in Burghead on the Northeast coast. My grandfather Daniel and my father Donnie were both fishermen. Our friends and neighbours were fishermen. The industry dominated our lives – as did the shared knowledge that every voyage could be the last. 

Morna Young  (photo courtesy Scottish Festivals)

Morna Young (photo courtesy Scottish Festivals)

In 1989, a tumultuous time for the industry, my father was swept overboard from the Ardent II and, despite extensive searches, his body was never recovered. This story is not unusual in fishing communities. Men and boats from all around the coast have been lost, every village scarred by these losses. In April, 30 years after my dad’s loss, my play Lost at Sea will commence its world premier tour at Perth before heading to theatres in Dundee, Aberdeen, Greenock, Inverness, Edinburgh and Dumfries.

While inspired by events from my own life, I wanted to create a fictional story that represented the many unheard losses from around the coast. To achieve this, I decided to use ‘real voices’, verbatim text from interviews with fishermen and their families, and to thread this throughout. Though the story itself is imagined and infused with artistic licence, the truth behind it is not. These voices exist all around us. I wanted to pay tribute to all those who have been lost, and all those who have endured loss.

One of my aims in writing the play was to offer an insight into the emotions, culture, traditions, economics and values that bind people to a way of life. I wanted to look beyond the dangers to understand the lure of the sea.  Perth Theatre has taken the opportunity to explore these issues through the visual as well as the dramatic arts by staging the first Scottish solo exhibition of photographs by acclaimed American artist, and commercial fisherman, Corey Arnold.

Corey Arnold, 18 Degrees and Hauling. (© Corey Arnold, courtesy Scottish Festivals)

Seeing Corey’s pictures brought visual sense and understanding to the words I have written. The beauty and danger captured in his dramatic images meshed so well with my vision for the play that we selected one of these to be used as the promotional shot for the tour. Corey’s photography evokes the visceral experience of life at sea for fishermen worldwide. It reflects the courage of those who earn their living on the ocean whilst facing immense risk. Moreover, he manages to capture the experience of tremendous joy and fulfilment. It’s complex but clear. 

This understanding of clashing emotions comes directly from Corey’s own experiences. He has been harvesting king crab and wild salmon from the stormy waters of the Bering Sea, Alaska since 1995. He too has salt in his blood. 

Corey Arnold, Opilio Morning. (© Corey Arnold, courtesy Scottish Festivals)

Fishing remains the most dangerous occupation in the UK with a chance of being killed that’s 50 times greater than for any other job. Corey’s pictures help us understand why. The night and day struggle with ropes and nets, the hauling of tonnes of fish from the deep, the churning machinery. He tells a story of man versus the elements, of life aboard a precarious vessel being pitched about by wind, wave and storm.

Corey’s images would be instantly recognisable to my father, grandfather and all those down the centuries who have been engaged in fishing, as reflective of their moments of hope, fear and triumph. Many of the pictures were captured when Corey managed to persuade crewmates to take over his duties for a few moments during strenuous working winter days of up to 20 hours aboard Rollo, a 107ft Bering Sea crab boat. Others from summers catching salmon from an aluminium skiff near a remote shore called Graveyard Point.

Corey Arnold, Pollockscape. (© Corey Arnold, courtesy Scottish Festivals)

Corey shares the feelings of so many fishermen, having a love-hate relationship with what he calls “the freedom and subsequent entrapment of life crammed into a small fishing boat”. “Life at sea”, he goes on; “has become a valued identity, a source of great pride, and a reminder that the safety and ease of everyday life back home is to be appreciated and devoured”. 

Corey Arnold ,  Ben and King.  (© Corey Arnold, courtesy Scottish Festivals)

Corey Arnold, Ben and King. (© Corey Arnold, courtesy Scottish Festivals)

While Corey and I both create work that reflects the common experience of every generation that has gone to sea, there is also a strong element of social history. Whilst we work in different mediums, we are both capturing expressions of a people and place. 

My play spans 40 years and tells the story of a young woman returning home to find out the truth about her father’s death. It addresses times and events that could all too easily slip unrecorded from history. But whilst Corey uses imagery to record these moments in time, my medium focuses on storytelling through authentic language. 

Lost at Sea is written in Northeast Scots, a colloquial version of Doric, as spoken in my home community. It is a magnificently expressive version of Scots language, muscular and rich, but seldom heard on stage or screen. Capturing this everyday language was vital for bringing authenticity to the story. 

The fishing industry has changed rapidly over the decades. There have been the EU regulations and quotas, the rise of technology, the growth of the oil industry and the decommissioning of many fleets. All have had an impact. Moreover, fishing rights are once again at the top of the political agenda and the decision making around this will continue to resonate in the years to come. 

Much of Scotland is within a stone’s throw of a fishing community and Lost at Sea aims to shine a light on these unheard stories from past decades and the present. Showcasing this work alongside Corey’s exhibition feels like a timely and enriching opportunity to fully reflect all facades. 

Corey Arnold, Opilio Bed. (© Corey Arnold, courtesy Scottish Festivals)


Corey Arnold | Exhibition dates

Fish-Work: – The first solo exhibition in Scotland of work by Corey Arnold.
Threshold Artspace, Perth Theatre, Friday 1 March - Thursday 27 June.

Lost at Sea by Morna Young | Tour Dates

Perth Theatre, Thursday 25 April - Saturday 4 May
Dundee Rep Theatre, Monday 6 - Tuesday 7 May
His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen, Thursday 9 - Saturday 11 May
Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock, Tuesday 14 May
Eden Court, Inverness, Thursday 16 - Saturday 18 May
Kings Theatre, Edinburgh, Monday 20 - Wednesday 22 May
Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival, Easterbrook Hall, Dumfries, Friday 24 May.


About Morna Young

Morna Young is a playwright, actress and musician from Moray. She was recipient of the 2017 Dr Gavin Wallace Fellowship (hosted by Creative Learning, Aberdeen City Council), the New Playwrights Award 2014 (Playwrights' Studio, Scotland), the ‘Tomorrow at Noon’ award for female playwrights 2018 (Jermyn Street Theatre) and she was the 2018 playwright-in-residence for BATS Theatre and Toi Põneke Arts Centre in Wellington, New Zealand. Lost at Sea, her debut play, was initially developed in 2013 with award-winning Stellar Quines Theatre Company resulting in a sold-out rehearsed reading in Lossiemouth. A secondary rehearsed reading took place in London as part of the Finborough Theatre’s ‘Vibrant Festival of New Writing’ in 2015. 

Other plays include: Aye, Elvis ('A Play, A Pie and A Pint' and Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh Fringe), The Buke of the Howlat (Findhorn Bay Arts), Smite (Jermyn Street Theatre), Netting (‘A Play, A Pie and A Pint' and Scotland-wide tour with Woodend Barn), She of the Sea (Paines Plough 'Come to Where I'm From'), B-Roads (Play Pieces), Never Land (Eden Court) and two short plays for the National Theatre of Scotland's Great Yes, No, Don’t Know Show. Morna has performed extracts of her writing at the Scottish Parliament, The European Author's Festival (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland), National Poetry Month (France) and Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Web: http://www.mornayoung.com
Twitter: @mornayoung 

About Corey Arnold

Corey Arnold is a photographer and commercial fisherman by trade. He has worked seasonally as a commercial fisherman in Alaska since 1995, including seven years of crabbing in the Bering Sea aboard the f/v Rollo. Corey now captains a commercial gillnetter, harvesting wild and sustainable Sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay, Alaska while living seasonally in an abandoned salmon cannery complex called Graveyard Point. His life’s work: Fish-Work is an ongoing photography series documenting the visceral experience of life at sea for commercial fishermen worldwide. He resides in Portland, Oregon, USA.

Web: http://www.coreyfishes.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/arni_coraldo/

PHOTOGRAPHIC TOURS: Guided tours with Iliyana Nedkova and members of Perthshire Photographic Society on selected days over coffee and croissant at 11.30am-12.30pm or over wine and olives at 5pm-6.30pm. £5 per person including refreshments. 10% off all limited editions at any tour. Meet at Perth Theatre Cafe. Book in advance with Iliyana Nedkova at inedkova@horsecross.co.uk

PHOTOGRAPHIC EDITIONS FOR SALE: 5 +1 AP limited editions of 18 Degrees and Hauling (2006) by Corey Arnold are available as part of the Horsecross Arts exclusive Collect + Support initiative. £100 each excluding postage and VAT. Sales enquiries Iliyana Nedkova inedkova@horsecross.co.uk

Narrative Photography with Colin McPherson

Colin McPherson has made a career out of photographic storytelling. His photojournalism has taken him across all five continents, with his work appearing in books, magazines, and journals around the world. He also has a number of longer-term and large projects underway currently, and his most recent images – about life on Easdale island – were shown this year at the Martin Parr Foundation in Bristol. He is a member of the Document Scotland photography collective, and is represented by Getty Images.

In the Summer Issue of ART NORTH we will be featuring the work of the Document Scotland. The collective comprises Jeremy Sutton Hibbert, Stephen McLaren, Sophie Gerrard, and McPherson himself. Document Scotland’s exhibition at the Martin Parr Foundation featured long-term documentary bodies of work on the subjects of Glasgow (by Sutton Hibbert), Edinburgh and it’s slave history (by McLaren), The Flow Country (by Gerrard) and McPherson’s own Easdale Island work. Following its outing in Bristol, the exhibition travels to Perth Museum, Dunoon Burgh Hall, and then Inverness for the FLOW photofest. 

Easdale island, © Colin McPherson, 2019.

Easdale island, © Colin McPherson, 2019.

Easdale island, the subject of McPherson’s photographic contribution to the above-mentioned exhibition, lies off Scotland's west coast and is the smallest permanently-inhabited inner Hebridean Island. This summer, it is also the venue for a series of short residential courses designed to reveal the secrets of storytelling through photography. Heading up these courses are McPherson and Adam Lee; the latter a photographer, writer, and educator. The courses that McPherson and Lee are hosting will allow participants to “explore what it takes to weave together individual images into imaginative and eye-catching photographic stories.”

“Using the unique characteristics and landscape of Easdale island,” they say, “participants will be guided and supported with the aim of being able to convey their passion for photographic storytelling in an imaginative and creative way.” The two-day courses are designed for anyone of any level with a curiosity about visual narrative. No previous experience is required, just a curious mind and a working knowledge of your own camera or device. Participants will be accommodated for three nights in two cottages on the island, and catering is provided. 

Places on the courses are restricted to a maximum of six participants per course and demand is said to be high. The dates for each are scheduled to take place on:

Saturday 29 June – Tuesday 2 July
Wednesday 3 – Saturday 6 July
Saturday 7 – Tuesday 10 September
Wednesday 11 – Saturday 14 September

For further details, see the course website or contact Colin McPherson on 07831 838717.

For further information on Document Scotland, see the collective’s website, or click through to Twitter and Instagram for @DocuScotland.

Jan Saudek – Consuming Pleasures

What do we know about Czech photographer Jan Saudek? Everything and nothing it seems. A loveable rogue. A victim of circumstance. A born survivor. Saudek wants us to think that he’s all of these things and more – it’s all part of his cultivation of the mystique that has been a feature of his turbulent career since the early-1960s. Maybe he is all of these things, or maybe he’s none. At times it can seem that there are a multitude of Saudeks all vying for their position, and at others he’s invisible; Jan is simply not there. “How many Saudeks are there?” I ask him. and he’s quick to reply; Too many! – though he’s happy that the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs now considers him an important ambassador for the country (a tourist attraction even). “The problem with me is I'm a bad actor,” he points out, and there’s a sense that his position will always remain somewhat ambiguous – the eternal outsider, perhaps. Saudek prefers the term ‘underground’ however, for it is more appropriate to someone who has never been officially recognised by the art establishment in his own country, and clearly it still rankles. But is he an intellectual? “No! Jan Saudek is a primitive!” he shouts, referring to himself in the third person.

Now in his eighties, he claims he has no need of publicity and no need to court favour, too; although he’s clearly one of the Czech Republic’s best exports, he remains – to borrow that well-known phrase – a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. Trying to understand the meaning of Jan Saudek requires that you research him like an archaeologist on a dig, picking away at the layers of evidence with a trowel, attempting to separate the myth from the rumour, the truth from the fiction, the apparently bald lies from the conditional half-truths – all of which are delicately layered and, of course, all part of the game. The life of Jan Saudek reads like a work by Franz Kafka, but what does it all mean? Is Jan Saudek misunderstood? “Good question,” he responds, “I’m misunderstood, absolutely! People think they know me but they just consider me as that ‘that dude who shoots fat women’. I make pictures of everything, but the market dictates how I’m seen – it requires special types of women… It’s bad luck, I guess, but it’s better to be recognised as a weirdo then not to be recognised at all.”

Jan Saudek ,  Dawn No. 1 , 1959 (© Jan Saudek, courtesy Taschen)

Jan Saudek, Dawn No. 1, 1959 (© Jan Saudek, courtesy Taschen)

For the outsider Saudek is not easy to pin down in terms of his whereabouts either – he perpetually comes across as the man who wasn’t there – like Orson Welles in The Third Man, glimpsed in the shadows more than the light – and eventually you come to wonder whether he really exists at all. It sounds odd, I know, but it’s not far from the truth. As he once told his biographer, Daniela Mrázková, he’s been accused of being an agent for the FBI and the CIA, and of residing in numerous cities around Europe when all along he was in Prague. Most alarmingly for him, even his death has been officially announced, only for him to pop up in Prague a few days later! When the Ministry of Culture in the old communist Czechoslovakia was once approached by the Swiss to allow Saudek to attend a panel in Fribourg, in true Kafkaesque fashion, they were told (simply and politely), that there was no such person. More mystique? More Saudek spin? Again, maybe. Who can tell for sure? In the end you always return to the same point; the only thing you have to go on are the photographs, because everything else is a mere rumour. The photographs are true though, because they actually exist… Don’t they?

Jan Saudek ,  Olga With A Bird Cage , 1978 (© Jan Saudek, courtesy Taschen)

Jan Saudek, Olga With A Bird Cage, 1978 (© Jan Saudek, courtesy Taschen)

Well yes, and no. Even in his photographs, loathed by many, admired by countless others, Saudek is dissembling and playing with truths. Take his titles for a start: In so many of his prints he handwrites the titles and the dates around their margin like an archivist, but backdates them to the mid-to-late-1800s, or early-1900s in an apparently playful deceit. A print from the negative for On the Road (made in 1964) can appear dated as 1879, or 1886, dependent upon… well… who knows what? In other images his trademark hand colouring and tableauxesque antique scenarios are cunningly arranged to present us with the non-time of history-made-present. These images are obviously not daguerreotypes nor cartes-de-visite, though there’s a strange sense that, as photographs, they would have liked to have been, in another life. The deceit creates distance and asks us to willingly suspend our disbelief while the photographer gets on with his chosen business of, well, photographing what in any other form would be considered scandalous. In some images the full theatre of absurd cruelty is played out with a Sadeian passion that would not be out of place in a film by Pasolini, but Saudek gets away with it because it is rendered as antique and thus removed from ‘reality’ just that little bit further.

Jan Saudek ,  The Puppet , dated 1901 (sic) (© Jan Saudek, courtesy Taschen)

Jan Saudek, The Puppet, dated 1901 (sic) (© Jan Saudek, courtesy Taschen)

So, what do we know about Saudek and his life? That is, if it is all such a deceit? What we can be sure of is that most of Saudek’s family on his father’s side were murdered in Theresienstadt concentration camp, while Jan and his twin brother Karel did their best to survive in a work camp on the Polish border. What remained of his family after the war returned to Prague, where Saudek himself began working for a printer. The real impetus to take up photography, however, came after his military service when, in 1963, he saw the exhibition catalogue to Edward Steichen's seminal photography exhibition Family of Man that was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in 1955. It was an epiphanal moment for Saudek who felt driven to create a single body of work committed to the expression of the “universality of human emotions” – something he has been pursuing ever since in one way or another. In the mid-1960s, he traveled to the USA where he was further encouraged to continue photography by the curator Hugh Edwards, but it was not until he returned to Prague that the political circumstances following the ‘Prague Spring’ conspired to force him to work in a cellar between those richly textured walls that recur so frequently in his later work.

Here opinion begins to differ on what it was that led Saudek to work in the cellar in the first place, however. The official story is that his clandestine studio practice was largely essential to avoid the attention of the secret police, who were hell-bent on exposing him as a pornographer, a homosexual, of having sex with minors even – and of course, an enemy of the state! The other version is less scandalous, although equally ‘unfortunate’; that on return from the USA he came back to a broken marriage and children who didn’t recognise him, a life in ruins and hard toil in a factory ahead. Whatever truth gets privileged over the other, it is generally accepted that both versions are more or less correct. In fact, he sums it up thus; “For a very long time in Czechoslovakia, we lived in sort of prison behind that huge wall that was the Iron Curtain – we weren’t allowed to be free. But there's also another wall inside many of us, and in me especially. The prison of my anxieties, my fears, and taboos.” It’s a striking feature of so many tales about Saudek from this time, that they concern the advanced state of paranoia that his experiences had brought him to, helped on by what he consistently frames as the envy of other artists and photographers, as well as the wrath of public opinion. These were ugly times, clearly, though they gave rise to those keynote themes of innocence, betrayal and personal freedom that are today so celebrated in his work by those for whom he remains in favour.

Jan Saudek ,  Untitled , c.1980s (© Jan Saudek – a print that sold at auction for €1,100 in 2016, courtesy Westlicht, Vienna)

Jan Saudek, Untitled, c.1980s (© Jan Saudek – a print that sold at auction for €1,100 in 2016, courtesy Westlicht, Vienna)

It was around this time (the mid 1970s) that the German-born photographer Gisèle Freund gave Saudek a Rolleiflex (“the one she used to photograph Eva Perón” he boasts) and he still uses it to this day I am told, but this is no mere sentimentalism. For many Czech photographers of a certain age, great value is placed upon equipment and materials following the austere years of communism that consumed much of their creative life, simply because equipment and materials were always so scarce. I relate a story to him about my contact with the Czech photographer Pavel Stecha who, during the lead up to the collapse of communism and Czechoslovakia’s ‘Velvet Revolution’ would send me prints in exchange for a roll of 120 or some photographic paper. Smiling, Saudek trades memories; “In the early-70s, I exchanged my prints with a lot of foreigners for photographic material. Especially with Phil Condax from Eastman Co. Those were the days!” The cameras on which those prints were shot are still highly valued by Saudek, too, and still used. “I work with an old Pentacon Six, but times have changed. I’ve worked with a Canon EOS 5D for some time, too.” In the 1980s he shot a great deal on a professional Polaroid camera he tells me, “but it’s all history now.”

Saudek’s first camera had been a Kodak Baby Brownie (given to him in 1949) he says, though he learnt how to use a real medium format camera ten years later when his wife bought him a Czech-made Meopta Flexaret with its sharp lens and ever-reliable shutter. On the box brownie was composed his first picture (now lost, he insists) but it led him to be labeled as utterly kitsch by a visitor to the family home – a criticism that he took to heart and that nearly led him to give up photography after just one shot! Kitsch is a label that still rankles today, but when I make the same accusation he is philosophical; “Kitsch is the right word. I can take it.” He is clearly aware that Kitsch is the cross he has always had to bear from his ‘babe in arms portrait’, Life (1966), that was so easily parodied by poster-shop snappers in the early-1980s (it’s still his most popular image) to the gauche hand-tinting and watercolouring of his own prints from the 1970s and 80s in which he himself so often appears. And there you have it: in which he himself so often appears – the key to unlocking the meaning of Saudek is to look upon his work as primarily autobiographical.

Jan Saudek ,  Life , 1966. (© Jan Saudek, courtesy Taschen)

Jan Saudek, Life, 1966. (© Jan Saudek, courtesy Taschen)

saudek2.jpg
Jan Saudek ,  Destiny Walks Down to the River, Leading Two Innocent Children , 1969, (and a later hand-tinted version) (© Jan Saudek, courtesy Taschen)

Jan Saudek, Destiny Walks Down to the River, Leading Two Innocent Children, 1969, (and a later hand-tinted version) (© Jan Saudek, courtesy Taschen)

Saudek’s photography is autobiographical in a way that few photographers are autobiographical today, creating a sense of aura around himself, and most notably his sexuality, his passion, and his desire. But that’s not to ignore the fact that his photographs are also, in many ways, a direct result of life’s horrors too. Let’s make no mistake about that. During the war (and immediately after it) Saudek saw violence and atrocity for sure. In the work camp as a child he saw atrocity and, he claims, later as well when Czech’s strung up “the innocent” and murdered them in acts of revenge. “In 1943,” he says, “I saw my dearly-loved father beaten on the street by Czech guys for the Star of David that he was made to wear, and I'll never forget it. Of course, I was beaten many times, too – but it's horrible to see how your father is slapped and kicked, innocent and weak, vulnerable and unable to fight back.” It is partly for this reason that Saudek has not been as politically active as some artists in a country once renowned for the activism of its cultural elite. “When the communist regime fell”, he reminds me, “the people on Prague’s Wenceslaw Square came out in force, but some decades ago those same folks swore their fidelity to Stalin, and in 1942, they raised their arms in the Nazi salute.”

Jan Saudek :  Which Star Is Mine?  c.1975 (© Jan Saudek, courtesy Taschen)

Jan Saudek: Which Star Is Mine? c.1975 (© Jan Saudek, courtesy Taschen)

During the course of our conversation, I am constantly uneasy with the reputation of the photographer and many of his photographs too, which following the rise of the #MeToo movement can be easily reconfigured to be read as something they are not. I increasingly feel that when you look at the photographs Saudek has produced over the years, there’s invariably a sense that he is running headlong and fiercely towards physical affection and instant sexual gratification; as though he is trying to use his subject matter as a means to blot out the memories of those depths to which human beings can sometimes descend, or possibly recreate such moments as a cathartic process, but perhaps this is wide of the mark. He certainly wouldn’t be the first artist to connect sex and death in their work, and he’s certainly not the only person to attempt to assuage trauma with physical affection either. When I suggest this might be the case, Saudek thinks for a moment and then sits forward as if to confess: “I think that it's physical love that attracts me… but you're right… sexual intercourse can remind you strongly of death.”

He is alarmingly frank, but with the interview nearing its close, I press him further, aware that he has explicitly addressed violence in his work on many occasions. “Is there anything that you just wouldn’t turn your lens towards and shoot?” I ask him, figuring that I might get to probe the darkness of his psyche, but his reply is now measured and honest; “Anything that shows the loss of human dignity,” he says. “I could not shoot that.” It’s a reply that should perhaps stand as his epitaph one day, preventing him from being as misunderstood in death as he has been in life – and, of course, he is now reaching that age when interviewers have already begun asking him how he would like to be remembered. Instead I try a different route, aware that he is a keen gardener. When he must go, would he prefer it to be behind the camera or in his garden? “If I die”, he says, “perhaps on a bench in the garden would be the best place to leave this beautiful world, don't you think so?”

Inverness Darkroom

Inverness Darkroom is a new community b/w darkroom space setup in WASPS Inverness Creative Academy. “WASPS have done us proud with a fabulous space,” say Matt Sillars and Rachel Fermi who are behind the project. The thinking behind the initiative is to provide year-round darkroom access for members; regular analogue photography workshops; and, hopefully, become a self-sustaining visual arts space, too. Facilities include six enlarger bays with Durst and LPL enlargers from 35mm to medium and large format negatives, as well as two enlarger bays for specialised enlargers. 

Photo: Lesley Antrobus‎ - The Inverness Darkroom Facebook group

Set up as a membership service, members provide their own film and print chemicals, with the Darkroom advising on use of chemicals, film and paper, and where to buy them. For use of these facilities, the annual membership fee is £96 for the first year, paid annually (or in quarterly instalments).

A month-long pass can also be purchased for £40, while members may reserve individual enlarger workstations online, payment being made via PayPal or bank transfer. New member induction will be required for a one-off fee of £10 (waived for those who have taken an Introduction previously) to ensure health and safety and that basic operating procedures are adhered to.

Run by volunteers, all equipment and furnishings have been donated, and membership and workshop fees are the only source of revenue that will fund the space. It’s a big undertaking, but first signs are that is is proving a hugely popular resource for not just
Inverness but the wider area.

As Sillars and Fermi sum it up: “the darkroom is a purpose-built space that will reinvigorate film photography in the Inverness area, introducing beginners to the fun and magic of processing and printing their first images, as well as a resource for more advanced photographers.”