Sep 192013

This year, the Bupa Great North Run was a two-pronged affair for me…

Firstly, I ran it (see my blog post Great North Humanity). Secondly, I made a series of one metre high prints for designer and illustrator Daisy de Villeneuve and Great North Run Culture 2013.

Daisy de Villeneuve with Run Colour Run at the Laing Art Gallery, printed by Jack Lowe Studio

Daisy de Villeneuve with ‘Run Colour Run’ at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne (Photograph © Colin Davison)

Best known for her eye-catching designs for the likes of the V&A, Nike, Moët & Chandon and Topshop, Daisy created a series of portraits in her distinctive colourful style for the commission, entitled Run Colour Run.

Daisy writes:

“What I saw when I went to the Great North Run was there were a lot of people, it was very visual. I went around with my camera and I took photos of anyone I thought looked interesting. So, I’ve taken pictures of a whole range of people – not just the athletes and participants, but the hospitality staff, security, the Red Arrows, event organisers, people with their families, kids cheering on their dads, people in costumes, different characters that stood out to me. A lot of these will show up in my portraits.”

Daisy de Villeneuve, 'Run Dad'

‘Run Dad!’ by Daisy de Villeneuve

From her Paris studio, Daisy discusses the project further:

Recently, top international athletes Ryan Bailey and Josh Cassidy came face-to-face with their portraits, now showing at the Laing Art Gallery here in Newcastle upon Tyne:

Ryan Bailey with Run Colour Run at the Laing Art Gallery

Ryan Bailey (Photograph © North News & Pictures)

Top international athletes come face to face with themselves at 'Run Colour Run' portrait exhibition at The Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle

L-R: Great Nort Run Culture Director Beth Bate, US track and field sprinter Ryan Bailey, Canadian Paralympian Josh Cassidy, Daisy de Villeneuve (Photograph © North News & Pictures)

Jan 312013

I wonder if you’ve seen the work of Kelvin Okafor?

His sensational, life-like pencil drawings are confounding art critics and gallerists the world over.

Connoisseurs have been scratching their heads and even mistakenly cataloguing his work as photographs; photorealism taken to the extreme.

As many of you know, I’ve worked with a multitude of artists over the years, crafting their artwork into beautiful editions.  Indeed, as pencil drawings are a speciality of mine, it would perhaps be the ultimate challenge to work with Kelvin on faithfully documenting such beautiful drawings…

Pencil drawing of Amy Winehouse by Kelvin Okafor

Pencil drawing of Amy Winehouse by Kelvin Okafor

Kelvin’s drawings also put me in mind of Chris LaPorte, who I wrote about here.

Nov 012012

It has been a great pleasure to make three huge prints for Chris Harrison’s latest show, I Belong Jarrow, which opens this evening in Norway.

Chris grew up in Jarrow (very near to my studio here in Newcastle upon Tyne) and now, as he writes on his About page, lives in a little yellow house on the edge of a wood near Oslo.

Chris Harrison, I Belong Jarrow

Although he’s settled abroad, Chris is obviously still very attached to the town he recognises as home:

“I was born and brought up in Jarrow, a tough industrial town on the south bank of the river Tyne. It’s where I call home.

“I have lived abroad for more years than I care to admit. My Mother and Father are getting old and moving out of Jarrow, cutting me adrift with no way back. Finally, I have been forced to think about who I am and where I belong.

“I never wanted to leave Jarrow. I always imagined that one day I would make it my home. I realise now that I can never return. Somehow I traded knowledge of the outside world for some vital piece of me.

“With this realisation, I have returned home in order to try to establish how much of where I am from determines who I am, and to begin to understand why I can’t seem to let go.”

Chris Harrison, I Belong Jarrow

Chris Harrison, I Belong Jarrow

Chris’ book, ‘I Belong Jarrow’, can be purchased directly from Schilt Publishing or, of course, from Amazon.

May 192011

I recently wrote about my work with Andrew Shaylor on his exhibition, Rockin’: The Rockabilly Scene.

From April to May, fifty stunning photographs graced the walls of The National Theatre on London’s South Bank.

Hot on the heels of Rockin’, it has been great to revisit another project of Andrew’s—The Circus.

I first had a glimpse of this body of work some seven years ago and, last week, the time came again to fire up my scanner and set about recording yet more captivating imagery from Andrew.

Andrew Shaylor Circus Dr Death

Dr. Death | Steam Rally, Portsmouth

However, on receiving the parcel of 6×6 negatives and reference prints, little did I know that I was about to experience a shock ‘blast from the past’.

Staring at me from within the box was David Weeks, the ticket inspector from my school train journey!

He was certainly a character and, on reflection, it is of little surprise that I should see him in this guise…


Andrew Shaylor Circus Spieler

Spieler | David Weeks, Petersfield (the ticket inspector on my school train)

Periodically, it’s certainly a pleasure to return to making high resolution film scans.

Film will always own a unique charm and beauty.  If nothing else, it’s interesting to be reminded of grain structure’s dominance in the make-up of a negative.

So very recently, we used to be more than happy to accept the wonderful image quality provided by film.

To my mind, this sits at odds with a modern-day obsession—the eradication of relatively low levels of ‘unsightly’ noise in our digital captures.

I’ve written before about the importance, in my opinion, for a contemporary photographer to remind him or herself of our medium’s roots, especially in this era of The Photoshop Aesthetic

Once in a while, let’s keep some noise, I say, and avoid the clinicism!


Andrew Shaylor Circus Bob Courtney

Bob Courtney | Courtney Brothers Circus, Co Wexford, Eire


Jul 212010

I enjoy my regular involvement with the universities of Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland, working with students around this time of year on their MA and Degree Shows or giving the occasional lecture on the technical aspects of digital imaging.

In recent weeks I have been working with Sophie Ingleby, making Archival Pigment Prints of a particularly intriguing and engaging series of photographs, Known/Unknown, for her MA in Photography.

As Sophie writes, “The images explore the relationship between painted portraits, their owners and the environments they share. Using selected works by the society painter Philip de László, the work considers the nature of collecting and remembering, and how class and wealth influence this.”

The series is not only work in progress for Sophie’s MA but is also showing at the Aberdeen Art Gallery from 31st July to 4th September.

The Archival Pigment Prints for the show and Sophie’s portfolio were made on Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308gsm with HP’s Vivera Pigment ink-set on the DJz3200.

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