Bryan Schutmaat is a photographer I’ve admired for a long time. Recently, at FORMAT13, Schutmaat presented a short photofilm as part of our festival closing ceremony, showcasing his brilliant series Grey the Mountain Sends.
Greys the Mountain Sends examines the lives of people residing in small mountain towns and mining communities in the American West. Schutmaat, inspired by the work of American poet Richard Hugo, documents the surroundings and the strangers that he has met along the way. This poetic influence can be seen throughout with Schutmaat’s images flowing in a stirring and deeply contemplative fashion. The powerful, yet sensitive narrative has emotion and truth resonating so strongly it is palpable.
The American West is known by everyone for its significance in American mythology; home to stories of hope, freedom, prosperity and promise. Through Schutmaat’s cohesive and beautifully formed work, he reveals the modern truth of the American West by examining the relationship between this fabled landscape and those who inhabit it, and vice versa.
Schutmaat sensitively shows us that this relationship, built on past promise and prosperity, is no longer the same. Instead, this land is challenging. Depleted. Exhausted. This is something that can be seen within Schutmaat’s portraits particularly. They appear older than their age and their silent, weathered and weary expressions offer a stark reality which is far removed from what the tales of the old American West promise. Hope lingers here however as people continue cling on to hopes and dreams of a rejuvenated land.
It really is a fantastic body of work, one I return to again and again. Driven by Schutmaat’s own romantic notions of this region and delivered with honesty this work is, as the artist himself describes, “a meditation on small town life, the landscape, and more importantly, the inner landscapes of common men”.
Schutmaat’s stunning photographs are worth lots of your time. I also highly recommend you read this in-depth essay over on The Great Leap Sideways. A fantastic exploration of Bryan’s work.
More wonderful examples follow.
…what’s there not to like about the grand finale of FORMAT?
Not only is there going to be a grand evening of entertainment at The Chocolate Factory in Derby, there’ll also be the premier of a performance by The Developer.
I’ve been up to the historic John Smedley factory at Lea Mills in the heart of Derbyshire to find out more about The Developer. Snuggled inside this amazing building were a bunch of musicians and filmmakers doing their stuff, including director Cally, who’s worked with the likes of U2, Robert Plant, Scissor Sisters and Bill Drummond…
The Developer was clearly going better than Cally was letting on. Composer John Parish was working with Belgian violist Catherine Graindorge and sound engineer Marco Tagliola to create new sounds for the grand finale, listening back again and again to see how they sounded…
Bring a dish for Saturday’s event and join in the pot luck dinner. Ticket details can be found on the FORMAT13 website here. Composer John Parish, long-time collaborator with PJ Harvey, is serving up a feast for your ears, mind you…
Meanwhile film maker Gavin Bush has been fighting the elements as he produces the visuals for the FORMAT13 grand finale. It’s a challenge he is loving…
So get your tickets for the grand finale of FORMAT13. A place where your eyes, ears and tastebuds will ALL be tickled.
Do Millionaires eat peas? (Inspired by MobFORMAT’s The Press - Treasure, at the Chocolate Factory)
By Stuart Baddiley
Millions, Billions and probably trillions of these little beauties end up in households up and down the country; the big question today is what makes them a national treasure?
My passion for peas has been from birth, they have been with me the whole way and been assisting me either through childhood arithmetic or through providing those essential vitamins and minerals that we get told so much about these days. Peas are around us; very much like trees we never see them, think about them nor rave about them. They are like oxygen, they are essential, they are invisible and they are undoubtedly super heroes.
These bundles of energy turn up in most homes up and down the country – fresh, frozen, tinned and even mixed in with other not so inspiring foods! Take comfort from knowing that you’re possibly eating the same dinner as the queen tonight or that famous celebrity you so want to meet who has just had a few peas with their pie. We strive to fit into society so passionately and the mighty pea is one that links us all so intrinsically.
Would our lives be different without them? I’ll have fish, chips and mushy carrots (just not the same) or maybe I’ll go for the Fish Fingers only to be told its Baked Beans or nothing. No more fantastic pea soups, no more peas in risotto’s, salad’s or curries and worst still no more pea jokes - What do you call an angry pea? Grum pea (boom boom)
So I say no to you Pea Haters, we need our nations treasure, stand up and Pea Counted (so couldn’t resist). Pea apart of something great, Pea proud of what Mother Nature has given you and promise to always pea loyal to our humble Pea.
So to Pea or not to Pea? THAT is the question.
Stuart Baddiley is a participant on FORMAT13’s Blogging for Photographers course and the owner of Restaurant Zest in Derby. You can find out more about FORMAT13 and the exhibits at The Chocolate Factory at www.formatfestival.com.
The Format 13 ‘Album Beauty’ exhibition in the Derby Quad Gallery is described as an ode to this vanishing art form, whose purpose apparently was to ‘document and display the mundane’ - the private reality of people’s lives.
Mundane or not, I found the exhibition most touching. One moves through a rather dated personal photograph album.
The subjects on the whole look self-conscious, and very carefully still for fear of wrecking the (expensive) film.
There are little boys in corduroy shorts, and girls with bows in their hair and puffed-sleeve dresses. There are baby pictures, and couples, cars and bikes. Most have no description at all, so very private.
These once proud possessions are all ‘found’ photos, taken from abandoned, long-forgotten family albums, bought from market stalls or car boot sales and curated by Erik Kessels
Ask anyone below the age of 40 if they have an album and they’ll probably assume you mean a Facebook album or just possibly a wedding or baby album which is both a record and just possibly an ostentatious desire to impress.
Nowadays our ‘reality’ is no longer private. It is brazenly public, viewed on YouTube, Facebook or Flickr, stored in the Cloud, buzzing around the ether like a swarm of flies.
The aim is to entertain, amuse or embarrass, reaching as many social media viewers as possible; or to show the world that one has actually been to Timbuktu, or Derby Quad.
Some of the older generations – my own husband for one - will still carefully document the mundane in albums, for the quiet and private delight of a few.
But private or public, where do these images eventually all end up? Either lost for ever on an outdated memory stick, or mouldering unseen in a junk shop.
So will our reality vanish too, whatever the art form…
Marion Fuller-Sessions is a participant on FORMAT13’s Blogging for Photographers workshop. The black and white photos above are taken from Marion’s family collection. To find out more about Erik Kessels Album Beauty, go to the FORMAT website.
Work at the Palace Of Toil
Job Description: Maintenance and Development Manager.
Perks of the job: Full package with health benefits; flexible shifts to suit; accessible location (on a main route); option to work from home; attractive pension scheme (the more you put in the more you get out); balanced, sustainable, stress free environment encouraged.
Who wouldn’t fancy a job like that? Well, truth be told, we can all gain employment at the Palace of Toil. You see this palace is an acu point. As part of the Traditional Chinese Medical system, it lies on the pericardium meridian: the internal energy line that relates to the protective outer covering of the heart. It helps the “Red Emperor” to maintain equilibrium, even in the presence of illness, emotional disturbance, overwork or injury.
Our point of interest is the eighth on the pericardium meridian. It has the Chinese name “Laogong”, the poetic English translation “The Palace of Toil” and the technically descriptive label “P8”. As a “place of coming and going” this energy gateway connects our inner selves with the external environment, allowing joy and love to enter.
Finding P8 is quite straightforward. Regular folks can make a fist and note where the tip of the middle finger meets the palm. For the medically minded, it’s between the second and third metacarpal bones, proximal to the matacarpo-phalangeal joint, in the depression of the radial side of the third metacarpal bone. With us humans being pretty symmetrical we have 2 pericardium channels and a Palace of Toil in each palm.
To work at The Palace you could use the sophisticated techniques of an acupuncturist. Alternatively, you can simply apply pressure or massage (small circling movements are very effective). There are no negative side effects associated with working at this point. Even those who know nothing of the Laogong can work there. Have you ever noticed anxious or stressed people wringing their hands? Even us sceptical westerners instinctively and intuitively understand the benefits of working at The Palace.
So, as you can see, anyone can work at The Palace of Toil. To start today, all you need is a little application…
Elly Swanson is a participant on FORMAT13’s Blogging for Photographers workshop. Her blog was inspired by MobFORMAT’s The Press - Work exhibition at The Chocolate Factory.
Want to see as much of the FORMAT International Photography Festival as possible but only have a day to do so? Then follow our handy guide below, complete with walking times and the occasional bus journey. You’ll be glad you made the effort!
Start your journey at QUAD with a look at all the amazing photos on display there, including Erik Kessel’s massive homage to the photo album. Above is a quick (and we mean quick!) preview of what you can see…
Turn left outside Quad and walk across Market Place to BPM on Sadlergate. FORMAT patron Brian Griffin wandered into this record shop and spotted his own album artwork. Now his covers, which include some famous names, is a BPM window display.
Walk to the end of Sadlergate and take a wander into Derby Museum and Art Gallery where you can see Brian’s amazing exhibition Still Waters and a host of other stunning displays including Andreas Meichsner’s sneak peak inside a product testing factory. Here’s one of our favourites:
Pop into St Werburgh’s Chapel across the road where you can see the work of Atsushi Fujiwara….
…and then take the nine minute walk to ArtsmithLive on Monk Street, home of the Daily Commutes Exhibition and more. Worth it to see images like this:
It can be a bit chilly in Artsmith so a brisk walk to Banks Mill on Bridge Street to warm yourself should be the next thing in order. Google maps says it only takes 15 minutes but we reckon you could do it faster… And there’s good reason to get there quickly, there is some amazing photography there…
… and an unusual chest of drawers… (we’re not going to reveal any more).
A nine minute walk will take you to the University of Derby’s Markeaton Campus where you will love the photography on display there – some of it will live with you forever…
Another nine minute (we like the number nine) walk takes you from the campus to Kedleston Road where you can catch the number 17A towards Allestree Farm Park shops. Five minutes (and 10 stops) later, get off the bus at Abbey Lane and walk over the weir to the historic Darley Mill. Photography like this….
…will make it worth the journey.
It’s back to the 17A and the 12 minute return trip back to Quad in the city centre. Grab a coffee in Quad café and it’s a (you guessed it) nine minute walk to The Chocolate Factory to conclude your adventures….
….the perfect way to finish a perfect day.
Check out more about the FORMAT International Photography Festival including our many other marvellous venues.
Photo copyrights owned by (top to bottom):
1) Brian Griffin
2) Andreas Meichsner
3) Curated by Atsushi Fujiwara
4) Debbie Cooper
5) Lauren Spencer
6) Petra Stridfeldt
7) Matthias Koch
8) Edward Burtynsky
9) MobFORMAT: The Press
Saddam Hussein, Leonard Cohen and Me
The Format 13 photography festival in Derby provided a treat of a day last Saturday. The Photography Day hosted by The Guardian Picture Desk was entertaining, authoritative and fascinating in equal measure.
writes Sue Norgrove-Moore
It commenced with Roger Tooth talking us through the life of a national newspaper Picture Editor in 2013. Roger is Head of Photography at the Guardian – an organisation he joined in 1988. So not only does he have 25 years of experience, he was able to contrast how the role has changed in that time. Previously Roger would have approximately 300 pictures sent to him daily from which he would make his selection. They were all film, black and white and, if sent over the wire, often very low quality. Today he receives thousands of high quality pictures daily. He mentioned that his photographers lament the demise of black and white shots (having invested millions in colour presses, black and white images are rarely used – except in obituaries!).
Following Roger, Antonio Olmos took us through his perspective on freelancing, street photography and balancing commissioned work with his own photography projects. Antonio’s passion for photography shone through. His main role as a photojournalist encompasses portraiture of many famous people (including Leonard Cohen), as well as covering news stories around the world. But it was the joy he obviously feels for his job that drives him to the streets to photograph purely for his own pleasure. This enthusiasm was infectious and the audience asked so many questions that the lunch break was delayed! He finished with images from his project ‘The Landscape of Murder’. For the last two years he has travelled to photograph the environments within the M25 where murders have occurred. Sadly, he reflected that the majority of these are in poorer parts of the city.
After lunch, David Levene shared with us his views on portable lighting for editorial photography. In contrast to the previous speaker, David does not travel lightly. This was demonstrated with a photo of the inside of his estate car, packed full of lighting, backgrounds and soft boxes. Despite this, David still often has to work very quickly. He rarely has the time he would like with his famous sitters, but produces amazing results regardless.
Finally, Sean Smith (a Guardian staffer) shared his experiences of conflict photography. We saw some of his work from the current exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, Salford (including those iconic images of Saddam Hussein’s statue being pulled down). Much discussion ensued on the publication of powerful but graphic images of death and war and what was considered acceptable or not. It was fascinating to hear Sean’s story and get a glimpse of the reality of working in a war zone.
Altogether it was a brilliant day, spent in the company of guys who, despite being very experienced, still had an energy and enthusiasm for what they did. Who’d have thought that a day in Derby could have transported us to the world of the powerful, the famous and the humble and disadvantaged in equal measure?
Sue Norgrove-Moore is a participant on FORMAT13’s Blogging for Photographers course. Find out more about what’s happening at FORMAT here.
Suddenly my World Just Stopped
By Stuart Baddiley
Let me fill you in, I’m an extremely novice blogger (so bear with me) looking to perfect his skills and was presented with a challenge to write a piece for the Format Festival, one of Derby’s most iconic and fantastic festivals (no pressure there then). I’ll be honest I’m super competitive and super proud of my home town, nothing would give me a better sense of achievement than finding the big story, the big angle or that photo that everybody would talk about for years to come.
To my absolute delight and surprise I found it, but sadly (for you) not a world beating, undiscovered talent or any Derby connection through so and so’s grandparents twice removed. This was so simple it was beautiful and best of all it’s all mine, my own sunshine, my own total selfish indulgence because out of the blue and for the first time in my 33 years living on this beautiful planet I found the most beautiful piece of art.
This picture brings history, memories, simplicity and hope. This is a picture from my childhood that a total stranger captured and one I would swear blind he was standing behind me on that day. It’s a picture that I haven’t been able to take my eyes off for days because it brings to me such happiness and probably answers my ‘what is your guilty pleasure question’ (Answer: 1980’s hit comedy Hi-Di-Hi).
The question that springs to my mind is would I feel like this should the world not be so technically advanced? A world so fast paced and unable to relate to the years when we were so technologically poor? I am humbled by my upbringing, the chance and the opportunity to be without, and to look back to see how far we have come. Were we happier back in the eighties or now in 2013?
You see the excitement comes from connecting with a picture, I’ve always been a great admirer of all things ‘pictorial’ but this is truly mesmerising and I’m so happy that it comes in the form of a picture that is technically so ugly, so pointless and so in the past. My excitement comes from the knowledge that if a photo like this can impact my life so dearly then there will be so many people who will like me discover a photo, a picture even a piece of art that pulls on the heart strings so fondly.
Whether through fate, through coincidence or through luck, I was in the right place at the very right time. I very much look forward to being in the right place at the right time for the rest of my life. Thank you Format Festival!
Stuart Baddiley is the owner of Restaurant Zest in Derby and a participant on FORMAT13’s Blogging for Photographers workshops.
By Marion Fuller-Sessions
The Format 13 Festival is on in Derby at the moment, showcasing “a selection of the best of international photography in a diverse programme of exhibitions and events”.
As a non-photographer having enrolled on a Format 13 ‘Blogging for Photographers’ course at the Derby Quad, I felt at first compelled to justify my place until the truth dawned. How horribly old-fashioned! Everyone these days, from those barely out of nappies, is a photographer. You don’t even have to possess a camera. All you need is a mobile phone.
Wherever you go, people aren’t actually looking at the stately home, the match or the celebrity; the truth is that for generations of telly watchers and computer owners reality is viewed on a screen.
I followed a group of Japanese teenagers the other day as they romped through Chatsworth giggling nonstop as they photographed each other in front of every painting, sculpture or magnificent view. Chatsworth was nothing more than a backdrop for their photos.
And everyone will surely remember the 2012 Olympics parade when each country’s competitors paraded interminably (after what seemed like hours we’d still only got to Cambodia)) their iPhones aloft, photographing everyone photographing them.
And finally, where do all their photographs go? That’s quite a thought. They’ll go onto Twitter, onto Facebook, onto a memory stick and then eventually be lost or deleted.
Hopefully some of these photographers will become Photographers, taking an artistic delight and pride in their work and giving pleasure to many. Their pictures will be mounted, displayed, exhibited and no doubt even used as a backdrop…
Marion Fuller-Sessions is the owner of Tom’s Barn and Douglas’ Barn holiday cottages in Derbyshire and is a participant on FORMAT13’s Blogging for Photographers workshop.
Find out more about FORMAT13.
Kate using her pink princess camera to capture the moment
Do children and photography festivals mix? I had searched through the FORMAT Photography Festival’s programme for somewhere to take Sam, eight, and six-year-old Kate while mum was on a girls’ weekend away. I plumped for The Chocolate Factory.
It was pretty quiet when we first arrived and I took the opportunity to walk Sam and Kate through the vast main hall lined with large photographs. The children were initially interested in the images as I pointed out some of the bits I thought might grab them. But their walk around the hall got quicker and quicker as the photos became darker and more industrial.
The Human Printer stopped Sam and Kate in their tracks. Two young women were following the same process as a digital printer - but dotting by hand. The children were intrigued.
Then into The Press. Mobile phone photographs taken by FORMAT fans were being printed onto sticky-backed paper. Sam and Kate loved pasting the images around the room and photographer Misho Baranovic also took time to chat with Sam.
“I liked sticking up pictures - especially in funny places,” enthused Sam. “Misho said he liked where I stuck up the photos, like the post with the projector on and on his seat!”
A quick scoot through the next exhibition, with a ‘look at that!’ from Sam upon seeing David Welch’s photos of boxes piled impossibly high on a shopping trolley, then behind a curtain into the darkness.
Children are impossible to predict. I never would have guessed that my six-year-old daughter would be most excited by images of bronze pendants from Mexico put behind glass and lit up in a dark room. She wanted to see the room again and again.
“I really liked the bronze things in the dark room,” said Kate. “And I liked the flowers with the brush in [PutPut - Inflorescence]. I also liked taking a photo and putting it in the computer [Derby at Work project].”
After making human shapes on the People’s Zoetrope, it was time to go. Our two hours of parking money had run out. I thought we would be in The Chocolate Factory for an hour. It just shows how wrong you can be about photography and kids.
For full listings of what’s happening at FORMAT 13, visit the FORMAT website.
FORMAT Exposureblog offers a regular flow of fresh, exciting and original photography, reviews, interviews and a unique behind-the-scenes look at FORMAT.
FORMAT International Photography Festival is one of the UK's leading biennials of contemporary photography and related media and takes place in Derby, UK.
Links1000 Words Magazine
From Dusk 2 Dawn
Indie Photobook Library
LENS (NY Times)
Little Brown Mushroom
Martin Parr's Blog
Preston Is My Paris
Self Publish, Be Happy