Valley of Lights, Todmorden

After severe flooding hit the Calder Valley twice in rapid succession this summer, the local communities reacted brilliantly to this devastating challenge. Businesses and individuals pulled together, demonstrating the indefatigable local spirit and individual outlook which characterises the upper valley, bringing together neighbours and strangers alike.

With many residential and commercial properties affected for months by the floods, it’s been a tough year, and collectively the area deserved a reason to celebrate their achievements since… and let their hair down. Fast forward six months and cue the Valley of Lights; a unique initiative spearheaded by Totally Locally, supported by Calderdale Council and creatively led by Handmade Parade. Embracing the pool of talent, enthusiasm and skill of hundreds of artists, performers, producers, retailers and members of the public, it’s an event spread over ten days in the three towns worst affected by the flooding here – Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd.

Designed to celebrate the Upper Calder Valley; its people, its creativity, its uniqueness and its hundreds of small businesses, it combined community initiatives with a series of spectacular performances, outdoor markets and displays. It’s a gloriously welcome way to usher in the start of the Christmas period, and the switch on of the lights in each town.

It was Tod’s turn first on Saturday 24th November, and as luck would have it, the heavens opened just before the start of the celebrations. Ironic considering the heavy rain in the summer. However folk round here are hardy and won’t easily turn down the excuse for a celebration and performance… especially one designed to showcase their triumph over the natural elements. Besides, we do parades and parties well around here, such as the Pollination Parade early this year.

After the Christmas Lights switch on, performers and musicians led a Lantern Parade around the town, before a spectacular fire finale in at the Rose Street / Bramsche Square site. Tod Market stayed open late, with both regulars and local artist makers selling their wares, encouraging shoppers to spend their pounds close to home. Musicians and street performers weaved among the heaving crowds, raising smiles and spirits through the rain.

Meanwhile there was a spectacular wharfside flotilla along Fielden Wharf on the Rochdale Canal, featuring lit-up inflatables by Spacecadets (you can view some panoramas of their work from Preston in 2006 and the Lowry, Salford in 2007 respectively). Live music was performed by Daniel Weaver from an open narrowboat: you can just spot him through the crowds during the timelapse video above.

Friends and food clients alike, local food heroes Porcus and the Bear Café set up stall to warm the hearts (and bellies) of the brave souls who ventured out in the rain. I set up my trusty GoPro and recorded a (very soggy) timelapse video of Porcus serving up their homemade rare breed sausages, while I tried out my new DSLR in wet weather conditions. All in all it was damp but delightful night, perfectly showcasing the diversity and distinctiveness of the local area, and making people rightly proud of what they have and hold dear!

Twitch and Wilkes from Optimo (Espacio)

Click/tap the image above to view a panoramic 360° view of the scene in your browser.

Click/tap the image above to view a panoramic 360° view of the scene in your browser.

Finally caught the renowned Optimo DJ duo in action at the Reading Rooms in Dundee. Last time I was here, in 2008, I saw Andrew Weatherall in action and I wanted to shoot a panorama but wasn’t able to). This time I came prepared… and determined…

Optimo (Espacio) was a long-running club night/institution in Glasgow. The weekly residency may’ve finished but JD Twitch and JG Wilkes regularly take their show on the road to showcase the mixes which make their DJ sets so legendary.

Eclectic is an oft-used term but it genuinely applies to these guys’ sets. Note the AC/DC sleeve poking out; not often you’ll hear that in a tracklist next to Chicago acid house classics and Boddika jack trax. I’ve been enjoying their mixes for close to a decade so it was good to finally see them in person.

Brittle Crazie Glasse at Islington Mill, Salford

Contemplating Veronica
(featuring Mark Dean’s The Veil of Veronica (offset Halo). 2012)

Custom format large photograph, shot at 15.2mm / f 0.42
Click/tap the image above to view a high resolution zoomable view of the scene in your browser. 

 

Defying Logic and Absenting Certainty
(featuring Alistair McClymont’s The Limitations of Logic and The Absence of Absolute Certainty. 2008)

Custom format large photograph, shot at 18.5mm / f 0.52
Click/tap the image above to view a high resolution zoomable view of the scene in your browser. 

 

Details and elements of the current exhibition at Islington Mill in Salford, showcasing work by a series of artists represented by Man & Eve, and curated by Lucie Newman Cleeve.

After shooting a 360° panorama of Susie MacMurray’s Stratum in July, I was smitten by the attic space in the mill, so was more than happy to accept an invite to come along to Brittle Crazie Glasse to capture a further series of detailed photographs. With such a range of scale and media across the exhibits, it’s a fantastically diverse collection.

As with before, I was as taken by the space which the pieces were exhibited in, as by the works themselves. The contrasts of texture, light and volume across the fifth floor and attic are striking and compelling… and chime perfectly with my interests in capturing light, form and texture.

The title comes from a line in George Herbert’s poem ‘The Windows’. However the section of the poem which resonated most with me was…

Doctrine and life, colours and light, in one
When they combine and mingle, bring
A strong regard and awe…  

The exhibition is well worth visiting, and runs until November 4th 2012. More info at the Islington Mill website. Thanks to Shereen at Islington Mill for all her help.

Buy Art Fair / The Manchester Contemporary, Spinningfields

The North’s biggest art fairs return to Manchester! Thursday evening saw preview evenings at both Buy Art Fair, and The Manchester Contemporary: their busiest and best ever.

Despite a rainy day, the weather behaved itself properly as guests streamed into the bespoke marquee set up in Manchester’s Spinningfields, and Quay House, to view the biggest selection of contemporary art either exhibition has yet displayed. Both events ran until Sunday 30th September.

We captured a range of 360° panoramic views of the opening evening and over the weekend: whether you were there with us, or if you couldn’t make it in person, you can now experience the thrill of both exhibitions virtually.

[Update] The organisers have revealed the whole weekend was a colossal success: the number of visitors, and the volume of art sales to those visitors, was up significantly on any previous year. Over 7000 unique visitors across four days… another example to suggest Manchester can claim to be second only to London in terms of both audience receptiveness and cultural significance.

Click/tap the images below to view a panoramic 360° view of the scene in your browser.

Exterior aerial view of the Buy Art Fair marquee, showing the last rays of sunset lighting the sky above Spinningfields

The entrance area of Buy Art Fair 2012 marquee in Spinningfields

Buy Art Fair marquee – rear of marquee with photographer Bill Ward and a selection of his work, as well as the band

The Manchester Contemporary – busy scenes in Room 1 on the opening night

The Manchester Contemporary – Ceri Hand Gallery, Conway, Anne-Marie Ros Projects – NL in Room 3 on the opening night

The Manchester Contemporary – Rokeby in Room 2 on the opening night

The Manchester Contemporary – The International 3 in Room 2 on the opening night

Exterior aerial view of the Buy Art Fair marquee on Saturday, with sun breaking out over Spinningfields

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Look up, duck down: Stratum by Susie MacMurray at Islington Mill

Click/tap the image above to view a panoramic 360° view of the scene in your browser.

This installation, Stratum 2011 by Susie MacMurray is made up from around 80 kilos of feather down, carpeting the floorspace of the attic in Islington Mill in Salford in a dreamlike film of feathers. As you clamber up the steep wooden staircase, you emerge into a veritable cloudscape of soft textured down, providing a curious sense of weightlessness. Talk about having your head in the clouds. The contrast between the infinite bright lightness of the feathers, and the textured wooden beams, cobwebs and dark shadows around is incredibly powerful.

Feather and duck down everywhere

The piece celebrates ten years of Islington Mill as a cradle of creativity, performance and inspiration, and draws on MacMurray’s time as artist in residence a decade ago, when she created a similar installation. I’d originally heard about this when working at a client’s in the Mill late last year, and knew it’d make an amazing subject for a panorama. I’d already seen a short video by Ed Baptist, concentrating on the attic’s entropic decay and detail, so the prospect of shooting the exhibit in such surroundings thrilled me even more. I love capturing contrasts in texture and light in my panoramas.

It’s only viewable by appointment, so when found I had two food photography shoots in Salford booked on the same afternoon, with a spare half an hour between them, I contacted Shereen at Islington Mill to arrange a flying visit. I’ve since spent much longer looking at the photos than I had to drink in the detail in person onsite. A good thing, as I’ve since spotted a lot which I’d never have taken in at the time…

However I’d recommend arranging your own visit if you can… while this high resolution 360° photograph gives some idea of the scale, scope and otherworldliness of the installation, only being there and experiencing all the sensory stimuli can really capture the full impact of the exhibit.

Incidentally, one of my friends told me about him and a few others visiting the original installation a decade ago. Despite copious signage, and their protestations, they looked on in horror as one of their friends cast off her shoes and ran, barefoot, amongst the feathers. Obviously I did not do this…

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