Artist Talk with Anna Fox

Anna Fox

Anna Fox is a British photographer and a professor of photography at UCA, Farnham. On May 16th she gave a talk on zoom to the OCA students.  

Anna Fox (b.1961) is one of the most acclaimed British photographers of the last thirty years and is Professor of Photography at the University for the Creative Arts. Working in colour, Fox first gained attention for Work Stations: Office Life in London (1988), a study of office culture in Thatcher’s Britain. She is best known for Zwarte Piet (1993-8), a series of portraits taken over a five-year period that explore Dutch black-face’ folk traditions associated with Christmas. Her collaborative projects Country Girls (1996 – 2001) and Pictures of Linda (1983 – 2015) challenge our views about rural life in England while her more intimate works My Mother’s Cupboards and My Father’s Words (1999) and Cockroach Diary (1996 – 99) expose the dysfunctional relationships at work in the family home in a raw and often surprising manner. Anna Fox Photographs 1983 – 2007, was published by Photoworks in 2007. Fox’s solo shows have been seen at Photographer’s Gallery, London, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago amongst others and her work has been included in international group shows including Centre of the Creative Universe: Liverpool and the Avant Garde at Tate Liverpool and How We Are: Photographing Britain at Tate Britain. She was shortlisted for the 2010 Deutsche Borse Photography Prize. Fox is currently working on the research project Fast Forward; women in photography for which she has been awarded a Leverhulme International Networks Grant.

from the post invitation to watch the webinar by Johnathan 515050

Originally recorded on 15.5.20, I watched the recording of this talk. It as 3.5 hours long, so was a good way to watch it, as it gave the opportunity to stop and start it and look up some of the work she mentioned as it went along. The recording was made with strict instructions it was for the use of OCA students only and therefore, there is no link to share.

The talk was about the idea that Fiction influences photography and helps us understand how to construct a story both within individual images and series.

Anna was very engaging and easy to listen to and the subject matter and photographers she presented have given me plenty to research.

The first section of the talk, concentrated on Anna’s work with Fast Forward: women in photography. Which is a project promoting the work of women photographers and challenging the history of photography and putting women back into it where they have been left out.

A discussion about why women don’t network as well as men was interesting. Anna felt that men are just better at promoting each other and consequently help each other to become prominent together. Because women are dealing with inner doubt, they tend to protect themselves from others rather than work with them. There is not scientific research to back up this theory as yet, but it would be good to see if it’s true.

Photographers to research:

  • Neeta Madahar – the Flora series
  • Hannah Starkey
  • Tom Hunter
  • Sophie Cow
  • Sophie Ristelhueber – Every One
  • Philip-Lorca diCorcia (b.1951 – American)
  • Allison Goldfrapp – country girls

Top Take Aways:

  • shouldn’t be text added to an image or an image added to text, it’s one work
  • what you fictionalise is part of the story
  • there’s a level of fiction in every story
  • understand the process behind making work, wherever you can.
  • you are the author of the story
  • Read fiction to help you understand the structure of stories.
  • collect text at the same time as as taking the pictures, but don’t collect it to fit images.
  • you can use text to create a story with unrelated images,

References:

“About | Fast Forward.” Fastforward.Photography, 2015, fastforward.photography/about/. Accessed 16 June 2020.

‌“Anna Fox.” Annafox.Co.Uk, 2020, annafox.co.uk/. Accessed 16 June 2020.

Research: Why?

Photography Tutor Led Session with Andrea Norrington

This was the first time I have joined one of these sessions, and overall it was a positive experience. There were students from a variety of courses and from as far away as New Zealand and South Africa.

Top take aways:

  • David Bailey quote “when they’re in front of the camera they’re everything to me”
  • Research should grab you. “always follow the rabbit”, Stephen Hawkins
  • Beware of the historiography – “who is telling the story”
  • Annotate your bibliography, even if it’s just to say ‘don’t read this again’!
  • 30 second rule – (see below)

(having written this blog, I’ve moved ‘top take aways’ to the top, so that it is read first)

A copy of the PowerPoint presentation from Andrea’s session can be read here

So why do research?

  • Stimulate ideas

Watched video “Rankin does Bailey” from a series called ‘7 Images that changed fashion photography”

One comment received re research is people saying that they don’t want their work to copy others. AN says it’s actually quite difficult to copy other’s photos and in fact it’s a really good exercise to try as it teaches you about posing, lighting, etc.

The 30 second Rule:

Immediately after every lecture, meeting or significant experience
• Take 30 seconds, no more, no less
• To write down the most important points:

  • 1 it’s not note taking
  • 2 it’s hard work
  • 3 detail is a trap
  • 4 you must act quickly
  • 5 you learn to listen better, and ask better questions
  • 6 you are able to help others more
  • 7 it gets easier and more valuable