University of Brighton BA Photography Degree Show Review

Photofusion Gallery Coordinator, Jenna Banat made a trip to the seaside to go see the new and innovative work by this year’s batch of graduates from the BA (Hons) Photography Degree course at The University of Brighton.

As stated by Fergus Heron, Senior Lecturer in Photography, “The work produced this year demonstrates an extraordinary range of approaches from highly experimental works engaging with photographic materials, processes and techniques, to poetic reflections upon lived experiences. Some works offer reflection upon the etymology of the word photography itself, literally writing with light, exploring photography as a kind of mark making rather than a type of picture…Other works engage with the past of the photograph. Here, questions of the archive, industrial production and mechanical reproduction are considered.”

What I have personally found so interesting across the range of BA degree shows this year has been the more technically experimental pieces. There have been a lot more students exploring moving image as well as pushing the photographic image to challenge the viewer through manipulated processes and alternative technological practices.

One example being Esme Horne, with her cameraless series of manipulated and re-worked photographic processes beyond their indexical purpose. Titled ‘40.8272222’, Esme’s work is made in the colour darkroom engaging with the simple elements of light, a lens and photographic paper. These aesthetically beautiful images are simply, as she describes, ‘photographs of photography’, photographic recordings of the photographic technologies by which they were made. See more of Esme Horne’s work here.

© Esme Horne, degree show catalogue spread

Another body of work which caught my attention was that titled ‘Each Of The Boys Has a Knife, One Of The Girls Was Dressed In Blue’ by Barnaby Kent. This series focuses on the community of a teacher training college in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea. The title of the project is a quotation referring to the custom of boys and men in the Highlands to carry bush knives or machetes. Although they are mainly used for cultivation, they are on occasion used for violence. What I liked about this body of work was the cleverly thought out colour palette throughout accompanied by strong compositions within the frames. I found the portraits particularly captivating and the interspersed still lives visually intriguing as well as adding the perfect level of factual information to support the narrative of the series. View more of Barnaby’s work here.

© Barnaby Kent

Another student’s work that had me performing a double-take when walking round the exhibition was Patrick Raimondi Taylor’s intelligent mathematical digitally manipulated geometrical composition imagery. In the project ‘Photographic Machines for Mr. Rube Goldberg’ Patrick presents to the viewer these falsified and improbable imaging devices created from an assortment of salvaged components. On a first glance you see them as technological equipment that has been broken down to show it’s inner workings, however on a prolonged viewing, you start to notice the isometric plane backdrop and then see the humorous elements within the images. Below is an example of something which seems to be a cross between a VCR player and a colour darkroom enlarger. To see more work by Patrick visit his website here.

© Patrick Raimondi Taylor, from the series ‘Photographic Machine for Mr. Rube Goldberg’, 2014

Summing it up quite nicely, Fergus Heron concludes, “What is common to all the work here is curiosity and intelligence exercised through exploring the many forms, processes and questions photography involves towards new possibilities of seeing.” I look forward to seeing how the students continue to build on their practice once graduating.

To see all of the Brighton BA Photography graduate’s work visit their website here.