This Weekend in Richmond

What do Anna Friel, Ian Hislop, Joss Ackland, Katherine Jenkins, Bamber Gascoigne and me have in common? Not a lot usually but this weekend that all changes. It’s the Environment Trust’s Secret Art Sale in RACC, Richmond on Thames and that means my art will be hanging among work by these famous names and a whole load more. There will be contributors from all walks of life sharing their art for a good cause. You can see the full list of contributors by clicking HERE.

The list is brimming with major arts names too such as Gordon Buchanan, Alex Scheffler, and Ian Beck. Last year one of my drawings was placed next to illustrator Quentin Blake which is just amazing! The nature of the sale means that my work is priced the same as everyone else’s which gives all buyers a chance to pick up something new for a bargain. You can buy any of the original pieces on show for just £35 but you won’t know who created it until after you buy it! All the proceeds go to the Environment Trust to assist in community and conservation projects so it’s a cause I’m more than happy to donate to. The show is only running Friday and Saturday so you have to get organised if you want to get your hands on something wonderful. Click here to peruse the catalogue.

So normally I’d put a photograph here of the work I’ve submitted for exhibition but then that would mean it isn’t a secret any more. You can look through the catalogue yourself and see if you can find which one’s mine. So I’m going to have to show you something else instead…. …. …. I’ve paused because I’m fishing through the catalogue myself trying to decide which one I would buy… … hmmmm… … I think I would want this one… I wonder who it’s by!
Capture

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Skill Sharing

I’ve been busy this last week planning new photography workshops, creating new things, plotting new music videos with Stone Letter Media, and devising a new paper cutting workshop. Devising new ways of working with others to be more creative is a real challenge. Trying to get it to pay the bills is something else.

I’ve been making this style of greetings card for a while and they’ve been really popular at the Workers Gallery in Ynyshir. I’m thinking of ways I can teach people to make their own. It’s always a joy to share knowledge with others. Some artists don’t do it because they’re worried about people stealing their ideas or methods. They see it as a threat. I reckon if people want to try and do the things that I do then they should have the chance to do it. If someone ends up doing what I do better than me then that’s awesome because I’ll have someone to learn from. I don’t fear competition.

So, as I see it, there are a few ways I can make this art pay my bills. I can sell the cards to those people who want to own them, and I can run a workshop for people who want to make their own. Everyone goes home happy with something created by them or created for them.

Once I’ve worked out locations and details of this style of workshop I’ll let you know. Meanwhile, if you’re interested in learning how to do this then please get in touch!

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We are all a work in progress

I think I shared a picture of this before I can’t remember. It’s been added to since. Embellished. Enhanced. Made more beautiful.

This is the spine detail from a full size ‘corset’ style torso called We are all a work in progress. This has been collaged out of my own photographs and the same size as my own body. These photographs are cyanotypes, lith prints, and various black and white images which were printed by myself in the darkroom back in 2008.

The concept is one of memory and self. We are always recycling our memories in order to make progress in building a new future. The stitching detail represents the scars, physical or mental, we may have as a result of past encounters. How we build ourselves as a result of our past is totally up to us and how we choose to wear those scars is how we heal ourselves. I prefer to take my past memories and rework them into something which I consider beautiful rather than something which may be destructive. The past cannot be altered but we can always change our future by building constructively out of pieces of our past.

I’ve been asked to submit a piece of work for an exhibition in London. I think this might be the one. If  the curator decides it’s not for him then the rejection will not hurt. Instead it will be stitched into the fabric of my own being as an embellishment on the already rich tapestry of my life.

Melanie Ezra [spine detail]

Brilliant Blaen-y-Maes

We spent one last day at Blaen-y-Maes in Swansea today for some family fun. Today we asked our youngest participants to share with the world the best bits of their neighbourhood. Blaen-y-Maes is an interesting place to be and there is always something happening. Some days it’s horses being groomed at the skate park, other days it’s making faces with food.

There’s always a lot to see and do in your local neighbourhood and with the right attitude it can be an awesome place to be. Looking after what you have on your doorstep makes any community happy and healthy.

This is the last workshop for the summer. We’re hoping to run more later in the year. If you like what you see on these blog pages and would like to know more about the workshops we can create for you then email me melanie.ezra@yahoo.co.uk or leave a message below.

On a Mission

For today’s final Camera Confidence workshop at Neath, we challenged participants to find things out about the town that could tell us a story. Presenting photographs and stories to the group isn’t a natural thing for most of us and this task helps participants work towards the idea of making presentations in job interview situations.

Looking at Neath is one thing, scratching the surface and photographing what lies beneath takes a bit of detective work and creative thinking. We found chapels and churches dating from the 1300s as well as industrial age tunnels and inns. This little Welsh town is teeming with history as well as being full of potential. Some of the historic tunnels and alleyways are still thriving thanks to contemporary commuters and consumers. Thanks Neath for showing us what you’re made of!

On the Maes

Today we held another Summer Fun Day at the community centre in Blaen-y-Maes here in Swansea. This time we had queues of children wanting to photograph their community. Our youngest photographer was only five but she wanted to be a part of recording what the streets of Blaen-y-Maes have to offer.

It’s a privilege to be working with this part of Swansea and a real joy to work with the talent that these young people have. Some were picking up a camera for the very first time which means they weren’t limited by rules about what they felt photography should be. Throwing away the rule book and having fun is something some of our adult participants often have a problem with. Here on the Maes experimentation, fun, and inventiveness were the order of the day.

This is street photography as it should be: unmeasured, unrestrained, and genuine. This isn’t an outsiders view on a community they have just visited. This is a view of Blaen-y-Maes by the people of Blaen-y-Maes. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Being…

We’re born, then there’s that complicated bit in the middle, and then we die. Making sense of all the complicated stuff is something that everyone has loads of advice about but no-one has the answers to. I’ve always thought that the best we can do, is be the best that we can be as individuals. We’re all different. No one size fits all of us. We can share ideas on what we think is best but what we choose to do with that is up to us. Giving ourselves space to grow is just as important as doing the growing. Realistic goals, achievable ambitions, and getting our own mental infrastructure in order is an ever changing landscape that only really ends at the very end. Hang on… this is a bit deep for a Thursday isn’t it? How does this relate to photography workshops and those pictures below?

Well today in Neath we were considering how to be and what this means for our interaction with other beings. More specifically, our Camera Confidence course has been looking at body language skills you need to interact in interview situations. We chatted about how to come across as honest (but not too honest), genuine (but not overwhelmingly so), confident (but not cocky), strong (but not intimidating). The fears you have are probably shared with a dozen other people out on the street at any one time but you can’t always spot when these people are shaking inside. So how do you fit in with all this? How can you possibly put one foot in the door when you’re body is telling you to run a thousand miles in the opposite direction? We’ve been talking about eye contact, mental baggage, physical awareness, and all that stuff that you need in order to be the best that you can be. And if you’re really quaking in your shoes, how to fake it all so that you have a chance of being where you feel you want to be.

Our Camera Confidence participants made sure that the photographs they took showed themselves in the best possible way. These portraits illustrate ideas on personality, strength, experience, trust, and independence. Our team used their interpersonal skills to stage each photograph so that the body language was 100% spot on for what each participant wanted to convey. They demonstrated ingenuity and imagination this morning in creating scenarios to develop their own sense of confidence and well-being. I reckon they’ve nailed it. What do you think?