Thanks to photographer Molly Hollman, not only for these atmospheric photos of the performers in last Friday’s Lunchtime Concert, but also for her spectacular landscape photography which featured in the performance.
A string quartet of third-year students Florence Obote, Melody Brooks, Molly Richetta (all of whom are University Music scholars or Award holders) and cellist Ken Macdonald, together with Your Loyal Correspondent at the piano, unfurled the meditative music of Icelandic composer, Olafur Arnalds, into a darkened concert-hall, against a backdrop of Molly’s photographs capturing the natural landscapes from around the country.
A rapt audience was kept spellbound during the entire performance; thanks to all the performers.
With the start of the summer term, we are delighted to launch our new exhibition here in Colyer-Fergusson Gallery.
A Canterbury Soundscape is the work of photographer and musician, Molly Hollman, and captures the life of the Music department in rehearsal and performance over the past year, combined with stunning images of the local landscape.
The images capture fleeting human moments at the heart of music-making – a shared joke during rehearsals, the opportunity to take a selfie in the Cathedral Crypt, a quick chance to tune an instrument before walking out to perform – as well as magical instances amidst the region’s wildlife and sumptuous scenery.
A Canterbury Soundscape is on display in Colyer-Fergusson Gallery until August, and admission is free; gallery open during normal building hours (including weekends), and there is disabled access. Find out more about Molly’s work on her website here.
Our new exhibition in Colyer-Fergusson Gallery, A Canterbury Soundscape, which opens in ten days’ time, features the work of local prize-winning photographer and musician, Molly Hollman. Combining her passion for landscapes and wildlife with being a professional musician and music teacher, Molly has spent the past year capturing the life of the Music department here at Kent.
With an eye for a dramatic moment and an imaginative sense of space, Molly’s photography breathtakingly captures the spirit of people and of place. Her work turns a fleeting moment into a universal truth, responding to the beauty in landscapes, in venues and the people within them, in the way they interact with each other. Whether in the intimacy of a single flower within a landscape or the intensity of a musician concentrating in rehearsal, her work transcends the temporary moment, turning it into a timeless statement that skilfully captures the dynamic at the heart of what she sees through the lens.
Ahead of her exhibition launch, I caught up with Molly and asked her about her work.
How did you become interested in photography ?
I’ve always been an artist (my parents are both artists and potters) and have enjoyed painting throughout my life, although when my children were born time somehow seemed to disappear…. So I turned to photography, something I’d always enjoyed but never fully immersed myself in until then.
What attracts you most about working with images ?
I love to capture the world around me and have always had a love of nature; with photography I can capture the image as I see it, for posterity. Photographing the candid and everyday is as important to me as the grand and splendid.
What were you looking for in taking the pictures in this exhibition ?
I always try to capture a moment – many of the best photographs have a narrative, making the viewer reflect and be drawn into the scene. Posed photographs are often very staged and reveal no story or emotion.
Are there any photographers you particularly admire, or whose work has influenced you in some way ?
I have many influences, looking at as many photographs as possible is the best way of improving your craft. Aside from the classics, such as Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier Bresson, I like many contemporary photographers, such as Julie Blackmon, Henrik Kerstens and David Chancellor.
What’s been your best/most fortuitous moment taking pictures ?
Any time where the light has been amazing! Be as observant as you can – I won a prize in an international competition with a photograph of birds feeding, they were on a white fence with a white wall behind which then lent a touch of minimalism to the image and made the photograph more powerful.
What’s been your worst ?!
Grey, flat skies (as opposed to stormy skies which I love) are hard to do anything with, as are sobbing toddlers!
People or places ?
I like both, capturing a person’s character in one image is a real challenge that I relish, but my love of nature pulls me outdoors as much as possible. When I do portrait shoots, I try to do them on location if possible, thus combining the two.
A Canterbury Soundscape opens in Colyer-Fergusson Gallery on Monday 8 May, and runs until September; admission is free, the gallery is open during normal working hours, and there is disabled access. Find out more about Molly on her website here.
As part of the Ringing Changes project commissioned by the Music Department for the University’s 50th anniversary celebrations – the premiere of which takes place on Friday12 June (read more here) – photographs by Phil Ward (Deputy Director of Research Services) are being exhibited in the new Colyer-Fergusson Gallery, to coincide with the performance. Several of Phil’s images will be projected above the stage during the concert, to which the text for the piece (by Patricia Debney from the School of Creative Writing) was written in response. I caught up with Phil, and asked about the inspiration for his photography, and the experience of collaborative working as part of the project.
How did your passion for photographing the landscape come about ?
When I was younger I used to take and develop my own black and white photographs. However, that fell by the wayside somewhat with moving houses, changing jobs, starting a family. Two things got me back in to it. The first was the technology. With modern smart phones the quality is so good that you essentially always have a decent camera with you. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it does mean that you don’t have to take a lot of equipment with you, so you’ll always be ready to capture that fleeting moment, the changing of the light, that sudden stillness. And the second was starting to cycling to work, and passing through such beautiful and ever changing landscapes. It was irresistible!
There must be something about the Kentish landscape in particular that attracts you; is there ? Are you a modern-day digital pilgrim ?!
As I say, it came about when I started cycling between Wye and Canterbury to work. As part of the route follows the pilgrim trail, I guess I am a ‘modern day digital pilgrim’! We are incredibly spoilt in this part of the world, both for the myriad back roads and tracks that make cycling a joy, but also the beauty and variety of the countryside, from the bucolic, quintessentially English charm of the rolling Downs, to the flat wildness of Romney Marsh, the bleakness of Dungeness, or the dozens of varied beaches. But I also like the less picturesque, the things that others might find ugly, from corrugated iron barns, to greasy spoon cafes, to the detritus next to the Stour river.
Your images are used in the choral commission being performed on the 12 June; what’s it been like to collaborate with Matthew and Patricia ?
It’s been an immense honour and privilege, but it does make me feel like a fraud! For me, I had already produced the work; for them, they are having to create new pieces. I imagine being inspired and creative to order is incredibly difficult. I hope the photographs have helped them in this. Both of them have been very open to suggestion, and it has felt like an ongoing conversation as it has developed.
What can visitors to your exhibition expect ?
Given the number of images that I’ve got on my blog, it was challenging to cut them down to the selection I’m going to show. I wanted them to be somehow representative, but ultimately went with the ones that I liked best. There will be everything there, from a broken blackbird’s egg found on the Chartham cycle path, to winter mists and summer haze, from the stark beauty of Dungeness to the lush farmland of the Stour Valley. I hope they reflect my journey, my ‘digital pilgrimage’!
The exhibition of Phil’s photographs is now open at the Colyer-Fergusson Gallery, admission free, gallery open during normal working hours. Ringing Changes will be performed by the University Chamber and Cecilian Choirs on Friday 12 June as part of Summer Music Week: details here.
Part of the ancillary events accompany the Tokaido Road performance coming to the Gulbenkian, Beach Creative in Herne Bay is currently hosting an exhibition of photos by Wynn White.
Wynn White is an American fine art black and white photographer and printer living in Japan. A selection of his beautiful images are projected alongside the historic Hiroshige woodblock prints during the chamber opera. A particularly ‘hands on’ photographer, Wynn does all of his own gelatin-silver processing and printing, getting involved in every step of the process. He also uses various historic techniques of printing, including salt, cyanotype, Vandyke, argyrotype and platinum/palladium.
The exhibition at Beach Creative runs from Tues 12 – Sun 24 May; admission is free, more details can be found here. Tokaido Road is performed at The Gulbenkian Theatre on Saturday May 23: details online here. Our first Lunchtime Concert this term explores themes of East-meets-West in music for two pianos by Debussy and Ravel with poems read by Nancy Gaffield from her cycle on Friday 22 May at 1.10pm in Colyer-Fergusson Hall performed by Your Loyal Correspondent and Matthew King – details online here.
As part of the Tokaido Road project coming to the new Colyer-Fergusson Gallery later this month, Faversham-based photographer Hope Fitzgerald will be bringing her #walkSwaleMedway series. In advance of the show opening on Friday 17 April, I caught up with Hope and asked her about the ideas behind her various walking projects, and what to look forward to in her forthcoming exhibition.
Tell us about the #walkSwaleMedway project
Walk Swale Medway began with a continuous walk of nearly three weeks through Swale and Medway starting on 22 June, 2014. Using a mobile phone, I took pictures as I walked and posted them to Instagram using #walkSwaleMedway. Links were also shared on Twitter and Facebook. As part of the original Walk Swale Medway three-week walk, I relied on the kindness and hospitality of my neighbours in Swale and Medway. I took a few photos, heard stories and shared them on Walk Swale Medway. Sometimes a friend recommended someone who could help.
The website includes a selection of writing and photographs featuring the places seen, the people met, and the stories heard along the way. Walk Swale Medway continues to be an open ended invitation to take notice of and share where we live, connect with and contribute to our community
What was it about the Tokaido Road project in particular that interested you in taking part ?
It was completely unfamiliar to me at first, so that was appealing. I was interested in the fact that a connection had been made between #walkSwaleMedway and the paintings Hiroshige made from views sketched while walking the Tokaido Road. Once I’d read up on it, I was really struck by the fact that Hiroshige’s paintings included details of date, location, and anecdotes of his fellow travellers, just like I had with WSM by adding text on my Instagram images before posting. There’s this lovely timeless parallel – of movement and looking around, and taking notice. It was also his job, really, and not that well paid, but the success of the Tokaido Road series increased awareness of his work.
#walkSwaleMedway explores similar themes of travel, landscape and people to Hiroshige’s ‘Tokaido Road:’ do you see WSM as a Kent-ish version ?
The more I look, the more parallels I see. I’m also really pleased to be on the fringe of a project that has inspired a lot of people working collaboratively to make something new – the librettist Nancy Gaffield, composer Nicola LeFanu, and musician Kate Romano, among others. Not the first time Hiroshige has inspired others, I like this about it, too.
You’ve done similar projects walking in Faversham, and to Folkestone last year for the Triennial: what is it that makes you want to explore like this ?
Walking in Faversham is where it all began, almost by accident. I gave myself a two-week target of walking every day, with a new pair of trainers as my incentive. By about day 10, I was hooked, and walking was a reward in itself. I didn’t mean to do it – it sort of just kept going! I did that every day (barring a couple of sick days) for a year before #walkSwaleMedway. WSM was much more profound an experience than I’d anticipated – I thought I’d just go for a wander, but it was challenging and exhilarating in ways I hadn’t anticipated. I heard a radio programme later about long distance walking and how intimidating it can be, but I didn’t really think it through – I just thought ‘Hey, I know, I’ll walk across Swale and Medway.’
I walked to Folkestone to take part in Alex Hartley’s brilliant work called Vigil, in which a set of mountain climbing ledges hanging off the outside of the Grand Burstin Hotel was occupied by volunteers. It seemed like as good a reason to walk somewhere as any, so I went for it. It took three days, and the countryside that way is beautiful and walking for a long time is a great way to see things. There’s a wonderful metaphor for life built into walking for me – it’s just one step at a time – sometimes they are heavy, sometimes light, but always just the one step keeps you going. I’ve been so busy lately that I have been skipping steps here and there, but I’ll find my stride again. I’m looking for an excuse to walk somewhere most of the time.
What can we expect when #WalkSwaleMedway opens in Colyer-Fergusson later this month ?
The plan is to mirror, in number at least, the 53 Stations of the Tokaido Road along the eighteen panels of the new Colyer-Fergusson gallery. The photographs are small, so on an intimate scale and framed in hand-finished black shadow boxes. They are printed on aluminium, so some are jewel-like, while others glow with the feel of watercolour. They are pictures of my home.
Hope’s #walkSwaleMedway exhibition opens in Colyer-Fergusson on Friday 17 April and runs until Friday 1 May; admission is free.