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Number 53 Autumn 2013

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View from the Chair It seems strange that by the time you read this our annual event, A Wider View will be a memory and the AGM will almost be upon us. The AGM will be held on 16 November 2013 at The Cave, Linear House, Peyton Place, Greenwich, London, SE10 8RS. We will start at 1 pm, keep it short, and have a social get-together with refreshments afterwards. Members’ prints and photobooks can be reviewed, but due to time restrictions I would appreciate anyone wishing to show their work to email me - avrilrharris@blueyonder.co.uk. Then I can allot a them a space and send confirmations. We now have volunteers for Group Secretary and Group Treasurer. Those who are standing for next year’s committee need to be elected, so bring nomination papers with you. We should be finished by 4 pm. Stewart Wall has received some very appreciative emails regarding the new format e-news, and I am certainly very grateful that Stewart has taken it over and given it such a professional look. Membership numbers are encouraging. They are steadily increasing which is very gratifying. The regional sub-groups are very active with plenty of things in the pipeline. So if you feel moved to join them and have closer contact with your fellow members, the details can be found on the website and inside the back cover of the Journal. We also have a very active Group Facebook page where participants share their views and present images of their latest work. Portfolio box member numbers have increased and Anne Crabbe is now receiving prints to fill a third box. If you are interested please contact her at info@annecrabbe.co.uk I look forward to seeing many of you at the AGM - please, the Contemporary Group is here to serve you, the members, and your ideas can be aired and discussed at this time. Best wishes, Avril Copyright notice © The copyright of photographs and text in this issue belongs to the author of the article of which they form part, unless otherwise indicated. If you wish to submit articles for the Journal, please send all copy and images on disc to: Patricia Ann Ruddle, 28 Malvern Avenue, York, YO26 5SG. patriciaruddle@btinternet.com Cover: © Olivio Argenti FRPS, from The Romero Family

Text should be in Microsoft Word and images are preferred in TIFF format, 300 dpi, file size guideline 10-20Mb. Images are also acceptable as high quality JPEGs, file size guideline 3-6 Mb. For other formats, please contact the Editor. Large image files may be supplied on disc or by use of online large file transfer facilities. Unless requested, discs will not be returned. DEADLINE for the Winter 2013 edition is 31 December 2013.

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Number 53 Autumn 2013

Contemporary Photography View from the Chair

Avril Harris ARPS

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Editorial

Patricia Ann Ruddle ARPS

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The Romero Family

Olivio Argenti FRPS

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Repeat Performance: Eva Stenram’s Photographic Acts

Stephen Clarke

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DDSBs (Discarded Dog Sh*t Bags) by John Darwell

Julia García Hernández

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Breaking

Ness Cohen

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The Wireworks

Chris Hopkins

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La Sicilia Sacra

Salvo Alibrìo ARPS

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From my left hand desk drawer

Jeff Hutchinson

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Money on my Oyster by Nina Manandhar, photobook review

Brian Steptoe FRPS

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Group Events

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Committee

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Cyril Richardson, family and friends Old Farm, Little Stainton, Gargrave, N. Yorkshire. December 1976.

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Contemporary Group ethos - Photography that explores the photographer’s personal view of contemporary society, environment, art or culture, usually through a themed body of work.

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Editorial “The forms of ritual that have an aesthetic value resist the erosion of time.” When interpreting photographs everyone brings their own life experience to the image. Reading a photograph is personal because we each have our own individual traditions, interests, as well as likes and dislikes. Because I suggest that our interpretations are often embedded in our culture, I must express the prejudices that I bring to the photography of Salvo Alibrìo whose photographs on Italian religious festivals appear in this issue. There is no escaping the effect that a Catholic education had on me. Although I may not now be seen at Mass every Sunday, I always find that the external aesthetics of devotion have a cathartic effect, especially as the ‘bells and smells’ bring back memories of my childhood. Even though I know that worship should not be about aesthetics, and that such elements as candles, incense, flowers, statues, vestments, etcetera, exist to serve as aids to worship, I find gratifying the iconography, the external expressions of faith and the theatrical aspects of many rituals. I can identify with what is perceived as a particular Mediterranean characteristic of religion, which is a form of devotion that seems to exist beyond the confines of the church wall, often opposed to Catholic doctrines. I suggest that it is this interpretation of religion occuring outside the institutionalised dogma that is most appealing. And fun. The sacred and the secular join together to provide an interruption to the everyday – our bodies and senses are freed to enjoy the wonder of the event. And, a closer identity with the community and its traditions is produced. Several of Alibrìo’s photographs show us a religion practiced in an external, as well as intense manner that differ from the norm of non-Mediterranean practices. Some may be seen as incomprehensible. However, the past and the present do exist comfortably together with tradition and technology. Penitents still walk barefoot in the streets; men still carry crosses on their backs. And yet Italy is as modern a society, with all the trappings, as any other European country. Patricia Quote from: Bartolomé Bennassar. Los Españoles (translation of L’homme Espagnol). Barcelona: Argos, c. 1975.

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The Romero Family Olivio Argenti FRPS

The Romero family story was not planned as a reportage project. It developed by itself as a narrative exercise when I was in Lima, Peru, working on another project. The idea came to me the first time I visited them; met each family member and felt very much attracted by their personal stories; the content of their house; the colours and the light. I was impressed by the simplicity of their lifestyle and the dignity with which they face daily difficulties. I was particularly attracted by the various objects they surround themselves with, whether the comfortable chair, the switch with worn-out portraits of footballers, the grandparents’ photograph on the wall. Timeless objects still alive and useful. The Romeros are a very poor family who welcomed me to their home with kindness. I asked their permission to spend time with them, to photographically narrate their house which made them feel rather important. I visited them four times. Their hospitality was exchanged for food, drinks and medicines. The family is related to

my good friend Juan, who was also my photographic assistant and body guard, previously a Latin American Kick Boxing champion. Juan worked as a taxi driver with a small old car, which was perfect for moving around the shanty and dangerous districts of Lima without attracting attention. The Romero father, an elderly and sick man, and the mother, a tireless housewife, make enormous efforts to send their young children, still teen-agers, to school, and to help their 13-year old boy’s dream come true: to become a professional footballer, a dream made impossible by the boy’s inadequate physical condition due to undernourishment. The family share their housefloor with a family of relatives, two dogs and cats. Relations among them are somewhat tense, probably because of the limited space and facilities they have to share. However, their hospitality towards me helped to make their daily struggles a little less difficult. I always felt welcome. www.olivioargenti.it

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Repeat Performance: Eva Stenram’s Photographic Acts Stephen Clarke In one brief moment the photograph fixes time and place bringing a stable order to the space and actors caught in its frame. Fixed by chemicals in the darkroom a photographic image could retain its permanence. Eva Stenram’s photographic projects test this proposition. Working with existing photographs that she digitally retouches, Stenram loosens the constraints on time and place in the image, allowing the subjects to evade the boundaries of the frame. The photograph becomes part of a process rather than a definitive outcome as Stenram takes up an invitation to look into the frame rather than be locked out. Her own works extend the moment, returning the photograph to a fluid state. The manipulation of the photographic image is nothing new, something that Stenram acknowledges in her project Absent (200405). Taking three famous hoax pictures, including Elsie Wright’s photograph of the Cottingley Fairies of 1917, she digitally retouched the images, removing the unreal subjects to restore a questionable reality to a contrived picture. The fairies that were caught in the photographed moment leave the frame released from a time long .

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gone. In her early work Stenram used the photograph to travel in time to meet herself. Her family album became source material for a number of projects in Retouching History (1999) (1), as she digitally inserted herself into these older images.  For Schoolphoto 1979-94 (1999)

With my Mother, from Retouching History series

all sixteen class members are Stenram at different ages, confounding the photographic recording of time. Time is destabilized in these images; we are no longer in the moment, shutter speed no longer determining what is caught in the frame.


From series Local Zoological Gardens

Stenram, a Swedish artist living in London, has been sensitive in her work to place as well as time. Countries use their grand buildings to distinguish themselves and

it is this particularity that Stenram excised in her series European Palaces (2001). Using photographs of the palaces of seven European monarchies, she retouched the images of these buildings so that they no longer had any windows, doors or, significantly, their national flags. The specifics of place start to disappear: the photographs are now stripped of their coordinates. Becoming blank, these buildings now represent nowhere. In Stenram’s series Local Zoological Gardens (2002), it is the private gardens of Mayfair and Belgravia in London that have their identity challenged by the introduction of animals photographed in the zoo. In this series she brings together three spaces that we have been excluded from: the exclusive private gardens, the restricted areas of a zoo and the atrophied photograph. The credibility of each is put into question. Photography is used to define spaces and what happens in them. We have grown accustomed to CCTV cameras that police the spaces we occupy. In Landscape with Cameras (2005), Stenram depicted a landscape populated with security cameras. In this setting what do they observe? Maybe the participants of Stenram’s pornography/forest_pics (2004-12). Taking hardcore pornographic images downloaded from the internet, Stenram digitally removed the human subjects of these photographs. We are left with the scene but not the actors or the action. We become conscious of the photograph as empty space.

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Per Pulverem Ad Astra (2007) adds further confusion concerning the space photographed. Downloaded digital images from the internet, in this case NASA’s pictures of the surface of Mars, were converted by Stenram into physical negatives capable of gathering dust as they lay around her apartment.(2) Photographic negatives that

Drape was exhibited at Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool 17 May - 26 August 2013. Articles featuring Drape appear in Aperture #212, Fall 2011, text by Lucy Soutter, and in Of the Afternoon #3, August 2013, text by Lewis Bush.

From series Per Pulverem Ad Astra

literally depict space are made into flat surfaces to collect matter that, when printed, oscillate between flatness and depth, illusion and the real index of the collected matter. Drape (2011) continues this discourse between flatness and depth. Curtains block our view of the pin-up depicted in the photograph. These curtains were constructed by Stenram from drapery within the picture itself. The manipulation effectively pushes the viewer out of the space to lie at the photographic surface. It also allows the subject to hide within the photograph instead of leaving as in the previous series of pornography/ .

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forest_pics. The photographic space has become a stage where actors are no longer a frozen tableau but can move around to either leave, as the Cottingley Fairies did, or stay, but not be seen, as these teasing ladies chose. This fluidity returns the photograph to act rather than memorial. Fixed by chemicals but unfixed by digital exposure, the photographic print is pulled back into the flowing stream of time to allow its subjects to move in and out of frame. In turn, Stenram’s re-staging precipitates an encore by other photographers to rework her pictures and perhaps peel back the drapes to reveal what is underneath.

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Eva Stenram is the winner of the inaugural Cord Prize 2013, juried by Diana Edkins and Charlotte Cotton. 1. Stenram, E. (2005) ‘Retouching History’, Source: The Photographic Review, (43, Summer), pp. 14-21 2. Soutter, L. (2013) ‘Digital Dialogues: Spectacle and Spectators’ in Soutter, L. Why Art Photography? Abingdon, Oxford & New York: Routledge, pp. 92-111 For information and Eva Stenram’s projects: www.evastenram.co.uk


Drape VIII

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DDSBs (Discarded Dog Sh*t Bags) by John Darwell Julia García Hernández There is something perverse about a photographer launching his new imprint with a book of photographs on the base subject of waste. Low in value as subject matter and low to the ground as waste matter, bagged animal excrement is elevated into our line of sight by the dog walker who flings it into the trees, and by the photographer who transforms the lowly and discarded into a collectable limited edition photobook. In presenting his book in its own black doggy bag John Darwell returns the shit to us, to take home and to treasure. In a gesture that is done with more humour than judgement, he performs a metamorphosis. A metamorphosis occurs within the pictures also. Weighted with organic matter and of a limited colour palette, the plastic bags sit like birds in branches, or mating pairs on the ground. And like birds, the bags multiply. In the zoomorphism that Darwell performs there is a satisfaction in returning to the natural world the organic that has been prevented from decay by human folly. Like a little guide to British wildlife, the book is pocket-sized and grass green with most of its left hand pages blank for the twitcher’s notes. The letters on its cover are sunken, dissolving into the green ground just as canine excrement should be. Its full title is only revealed when the book is turned over and, even then, the reader is protected from offence by the replacement of the letter ‘i’ with an asterisk. The logo of a newt wrapped around the imprint name mynewtpress continues the book’s play with word and image. In this format Darwell gently asserts his polemic. DDSBs was launched this year at the Arles festival. It comes out of the long-term project 1000 Yards; Or So that chronicles Darwell’s daily walks with his dog along a stretch of river in Cumbria. His observations of a single shoe left on the grass, of tyres caught up in a tree, or a balancing twig, are small studies of things, natural and man-made, that make up his local landscape. Using a similar visual language for DDSBs, Darwell obsessively re-photographs an artefact that has become increasingly ubiquitous, and presents it as a repeated motif of idiosyncratic human behaviour. This project extends beyond the local to cover open countryside, beauty spots, parks, cities and suburbia across the UK. It signifies a collective mental state, not only of a nation but also of a Western society which, when persuaded to be socially responsible, has become environmentally

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irresponsible. A misguided action has become an international phenomenon that Darwell has already begun to record. Darwell’s photographs can be read as a barometer of our age registering the ‘stuff’ that is overlooked, deemed unphotographable, or unworthy of our gaze. His projects are encoded with the indicators that signal ‘where we are at’. He shows us places of metamorphosis that fluctuate between one thing and another.

The locations in DDSBs are non-specific, identifiable neither as urban nor rural. The discovered artefacts that mark the fringes of the dog walker’s path are both organic and synthetic. The action of the dog walker is both responsible and reckless. Towards the close of 2013 a selection of work from Darwell’s recent projects will form part of a group exhibition at Liverpool’s Bluecoat. This exhibition will examine a new vocabulary of landscape exploring themes that are familiar across Darwell’s practice. DDSBs confirms Darwell’s interest in human behaviour, and the patterns of behaviour, that at first appear eccentric but which form part of the bigger picture of human impact on the environment and our natural world.

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DDSBs is produced as an artist edition of 200 + 15 artist proofs, signed and individually numbered. £25 plus £5 p&p. It is available by emailing John through his website www.johndarwell.com Soft Estate at the Bluecoat in Liverpool will run from December 2013 to March 2014 and will tour to Spacex, Exeter. Sheffield Tinsley Viaduct is published by Café Royal Books in an edition of 150 with an introduction by John Darwell. It is the first in a series of Darwell’s previously unpublished archive pictures, and the last black and white photographs he took before moving into colour photography. www.caferoyalbooks.com For an overview of his projects since the early 1980s see John Darwell: Committed to Memory (Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery, 2007) which accompanied the retrospective exhibition of the same name. John Darwell is Reader in Photography at the University of Cumbria in Carlisle. .

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Breaking Ness Cohen

A popular style of street dance, breaking, was created and developed as part of hip hop culture among African Americans and Latino youths in New York City in the late 70s/ early 80s. Purists consider ‘breakdancing’ an ignorant term invented by the media. This project hopes to celebrate the richness and diversity of urban culture and the role of breaking and its artists. The work illustrates the complementary relationship between the dance form and the urban scene, also helping to inform viewers further. I’ve used a photographic fragmentation concept in which an image captures part of the whole. I’ve isolated and framed particular details or features of the subject as a conscious photographic act. Fragmentation leads to curiosity - the viewer may begin to scour the image for clues, forcing an interactive process and viewer engagement. The viewer can imagine the whole through the significant detail and the context. Close-up shots present the beauty within; they offer a microscopic fidelity and create a compelling narrative. My intention is to showcase Breaking from an alternative angle. www.photosbyness.com

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The Wireworks Chris Hopkins

Prospect Mill has been at the heart of the small Yorkshire community of Scholes since Victorian times, providing employment for generations of local people. The factory is typical of the industrial mills that were once commonplace across the North of England. Many have fallen into a state of neglect and disrepair as a result of the reduction in British manufacturing. Demolition of the Wireworks began in February 2012 to make way for the building of 42 new homes for commuters to the nearby cities of Manchester, Leeds and Bradford. The roofing slates, wooden beams, lead guttering, brick and stone were recycled. Over seven months, I made more than 20 visits, photographing the decaying Victorian architecture, capturing signs of human endeavour, the process of demolition and the gradual revealing of the natural landscape. The full project is on my website - http://www.chrishopkins.co.uk/?page_ id=1368

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La Sicilia Sacra Salvo Alibrìo ARPS

Mi chiamo Salvo Alibrìo ho 24 anni e sin da bambino ho manifestato interesse per la fotografia,mi piace immortalare tutto ciò che mi circonda,i paesaggi la gente e le tradizioni che si svolgono nella mia terra. Ho avuto la fortuna di nascere e crescere in un piccolo paese della Sicilia Sud-Orientale, vivere la vita di parrocchia e essere coinvolto, sin da piccolo, nei preparativi della festa del Santo del mio quartiere. Non ho mai avuto un fotografo di riferimento anche perché quando frequentai il Liceo artistico non studiavo fotografia,da piccolo quando ho iniziato a fotografare non avevo internet per fare delle ricerche sui grandi Maestri della Fotografia,e anche per avere confronti con tutto ciò che riguardava la fotografia in generale. Maturando questa passione e cercando sempre di migliorare nelle ricerche nei confronti,uno dei fotografi che mi ha colpito è il conterraneo Maestro Ferdinando Scianna,anche lui ha fotografato ed a fatto un libro sulle feste religiose in Sicilia immortalando gli anni più belli con fotografie bellissime quasi magiche. Il Principio che mi spinge a fotografare queste manifestazioni Religiose della Sicilia sono la forza e la volontà del popolo sicilano che crede e si impegna nel portare avanti queste Tradizioni Folkloristiche cariche di fede. Amo mettere al centro di ogni evento la figura dell’uomo,un bimbo,un anziano che testimonia ogni evento cogliendo l’espressione che riesce a coinvolgermi fermando quel momento con la luce giusta mettendo in risalto tutto neii dettagli in 2 colori il Bianco e il Nero. Con questa serie di fotografie voglio mostrare come gran parte del popolo siciliano vive e fa rivivere alle generazioni successive intensi momenti di fede e devozione, che sono il cuore di queste immagini. Nei miei scatti racconto il sacrificio, le promesse, le offerte, le preghiere attraverso espressioni che emozionano e coinvolgono l’osservatore. Ho iniziato la serie di fotografie dalla foto dei bambini che vanno per il paese e imitano le processioni vere, alla gioia dell’uscita del simulacro del santo dove fede e folklore si fondono, all’anziano che porge un’immaginetta quasi a chiedere una benedizione,una grazia,e ho centrato il “panel”con la foto in cui si ha riferimento la mafia,dove una forte opposizione,un contrasto dei temi è in una stessa fotografia. Il popolo siciliano, amante di ciò che lo meraviglia ed esalta, ha bisogno della festa che lo impressioni e lo commuova. Emozioni che con passione

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sono tramandate e vissute da generazione in generazione da secoli e spero siano mantenute per preservare questo particolare privilegio di cui la Sicilia ne è lo scrigno.

Sacred Sicily Italian photographer, Salvo Alibrìo, photographs his neighbours in a small Sicilian town where they are seen living impassioned moments in the commemoration of their parish Saint and holy days. He shows us how different generations participate, by putting at the heart of each image the figure of a man, child or elderly person; they are centre-stage whether solemn or exuberant in devotion to their faith and beliefs. Intense and profound emotions are passed down from generation to generation. Centuries have witnessed the preservation of a religious culture and tradition. Alibrìo’s encompanying Italian text served as his statement for what was a successful RPS Associate submission. The images shown here have been selected from his original fifteen photographs in order that we can share in his success. Alibrìo writes that he attended art school but never studied photography, although he began taking pictures as a child. Later when researching and trying to learn more about photography, he was attracted to the work of Magnum photographer and fellow Sicilian, Ferdinando Scianna, who began to capture Sicilian traditions and religious festivals in the 1960s. Like Scianna, Alibrìo uses the nature of black and white, with its dramatic light, to construct a powerful setting in which to situate these festivities. Again like Scianna before him, Alibrìo strives to capture a unique combination of local faith and folklore with all its passion and fervour. It is this combination that allows people to come together as a collective entity, which in turn results in the ability for their traditions to be preserved. (Translation from Italian – the Editor with the help of Google Translation) http://www.salvoalibrio.com/ Ferdinando Scianna and Leonardo Sciascia. Feste Religiose in Sicilia, Leonardo da Vinci, 1965; re-issued L’Immagine Editrice, 1987.


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From my left hand desk drawer Jeff Hutchinson

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Money on my Oyster by Nina Manandhar

Photobook Review by Brian Steptoe FRPS

Photobooks can come in all sizes and styles, with fold-out pages, inserts, hand-stitched backs or even not stitched at all. Publisher Michael Mack has defined a book by simply stating it has pages that are bound together. Nina Manandhar’s self-published book Money on my Oyster is conventionally bound but has a particular unique style - the teenage girl scrapbook. Photos are pasted into pages in random orientations. Pages with single photos appear as if taped down on corners; many have roughly sketched pen outlining and commentary. Books such as this call for assessment from a particular viewpoint; in this case, as the young occupant of the imagined room, seeing images as a moment in time and enjoyment of life. The book title sets the tone: rather fun, full of life and with a touch of humour (the Oyster card is used for ease of travel throughout London). The book’s photo contents support and expand the theme. There are full page portraits and group scenes, such as the school prom, people she has met on the street and boisterous life in East London. None of the doom laden images so often met in the press, but a real sense of the joys of growing to adulthood and a future life. .

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Group Events 16 November

Group AGM and attendee showing of prints. 2pm, The Cave, Linear House, Peyton Place, Greenwich, London SE10 8RS (5 mins from Greenwich main line and DLR station). Contact avrilrharris@blueyonder.co.uk

18 November

Contemporary North West meeting. Days Inn, Charnock Richard Services, M6 between J27 and 28. Contact Ian Maxwell mail@ihmaxwell.com tel.01524 770278. Keith Launchbury FRPS will be examining the way in which exploring a theme photographically can change the photographer’s entire way of thinking about his or her subject; and in the process will be considering the essence of contemporary photography.

24 November

Joint Contemporary North East and Yorkshire Region meeting, National Media Museum, Bradford BD1 1NQ. 10am to 3.30pm. ‘The Photobook - Relevance and Design’; talk followed by hands-on book layout workshop using sets of 10x15mm prints, led by Brian Steptoe FRPS. Contact Mary Crowther, Yorkshire Regional Organiser, photobox50@gmail.com, tel 07921 237962 to book places.

20 January 2014

Regular meeting of the North West Contemporary Group. All welcome. We meet in the Days Inn Hotel at the north-bound Charnock Richard services, between junctions 27 and 28 of the M6. Contact Ian Maxwell mail@ihmaxwell.com tel.01524 770278.

9 February 2014

Contemporary South West meeting at a venue in Devon yet to be confirmed. Contact Rod Fry rod@rodfry. eclipse.co.uk or 01803 844721 for details.

17 March 2014

Regular meeting of the North West Contemporary Group. All welcome. We meet in the Days Inn Hotel at the north-bound Charnock Richard services, between junctions 27 and 28 of the M6. Contact Ian Maxwell mail@ihmaxwell.com tel.01524 770278.

Advance information

A photobook exhibition is being organised, which will be open to all members of the RPS, with a closing date of 1 September 2014. More details will be available shortly. Or contact rod@rodfry.eclipse.co.uk

Chair - Avril Harris ARPS avrilrharris@blueyonder.co.uk

Event organiser - Avril Harris ARPS avrilrharris@blueyonder.co.uk

Publicity officer - Rod Fry ARPS rod@rodfry.eclipse.co.uk

Deputy chair - Rod Fry ARPS rod@rodfry.eclipse.co.uk

Journal editor - Patricia Ruddle ARPS 28 Malvern Avenue, York. YO26 5SG patriciaruddle@btinternet.com

Committee members Steff Hutchinson ARPS info@steffhutchinson.co.uk Ian Maxwell mail@ihmaxwell.com Douglas May FRPS douglasjmay1@btinternet.com Richard Sadler FRPS sadler118@btinternet.com

Secretary - Bob Gates ARPS bob@robertgates.eu Treasurer - Brian Steptoe FRPS bsteptoe@compuserve.com Postal portfolio - Anne Crabbe FRPS info@annecrabbe.co.uk

Journal Editorial committee Patricia Ruddle, editor Anne Crabbe Brian Steptoe, design e-newsletter editor, Stewart Wall, artonastudios@gmail.com

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Š Daniel Meadows Hon FRPS Cyril Richardson, family and friends kill and cure their own bacon pigs. Old Farm, Little Stainton, Gargrave, N. Yorkshire. December 1976.

Price where sold, ÂŁ5

Contemporary Photography Autumn 2013  

Contemporary Photography, Autumn 2013. Autumn Journal of the Royal Photographic Society Contemporary Group

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