Formerly Education Co-ordinator with Mayan photographers at the Chiapas Photography Project Mexico and since then award winner for my Chlorophyll Prints... KEEP UP TO DATE with my personal and community arts work...
SPRING - SUMMER 2013
What a whirlwind!
I'm writing this looking back over 6 months which look like a gorgeous energetic salad of inspiring community projects. Obviously I haven't had a chance until now to let you know about it, so here's the low down before I dive back into another season of it...
'City to Seaside': various schools in Bristol, in partnership with Severnside Community Rail Partnership (First Great Western) and The Arts Council 2013-2014.
Wow that title was a mouthful for what is actually a very simple idea. In response to vandalism and fare skipping on the railway line through Bristol towards Severn Beach, the community branch of the railway line asked me to design a project to make a positive difference to this and make some art for Lawrence Hill station. We got arts council funding for 2 years and away we go! We take teenagers out on photography trips along the railway line to explore the diverse people and hidden corners along the way. Check out Lawrence Hill station for the full story!
Pinhole Photography: Bristol Specialist Drug and Alcohol Service (NHS)
I've had the privilege of working with the NHS on a pilot project to bring photography into recovery centres around Bristol. Everyone needs a little bit of magic, don't they? And making a camera from scratch, then seeing your own photos appear from no-where in a makeshift darkroom in a treatment room seemed like just what the doctor ordered (literally, in some cases!). Some beautiful images were made, all on the theme of recovery, which will be included in a publication by BSDAS service users in 2014.
'Our 360 Degree Journey': Hannah More Primary School
I've been working with year 5 children from Hannah More Primary and members of the local area to help the children connect to the context their school sits in. Some of the children have behavioural issues while others are learning English as a second language or are particularly gifted in the Arts. One particularly interesting moment during the project took us to visit the 18th Century Jewish Cemetery which backs onto the school. As you can imagine, it had a larger than life presence in the children's minds! And yet we had a lovely visit, welcomed by Alan who is one of the people entrusted to look after the site. Having a largely Muslim group of children and adult volunteers from a local church, visiting an important site for the local jewish community, made it a surprisingly warm and matter of fact conversation about life and death across the faiths. Hannah More also commissioned me to produce large scale fabric banners using a selection of photos by the students. I printed them using the historical cyanotype (blue print) process.
2nd Dec 2012: NICE WORK YESTERDAY!
I had a great time running a Creative Cyanotypes Workshop at St Paul's Darkrooms in Bristol yesterday.
Lots of creativity, some incredible facilities and a few bubbling hours later we had some great prints on paper and fabric!
** 26th Sept 2012: TWO EXHIBITIONS OPENING NEXT WEEK - LONDON AND STROUD **
I'm excited to be part of two exhibitions in October alongide some fabulous and varied artists.
I'll be showing a selection of ORIGINAL chlorophyll prints - a rare chance to see the ACTUAL LEAVES - at both shows.
Due to the logistics of hanging in two cities in two days (!), I'll be at the private view in London on 4th.
ST AUGUSTINES TOWER
The Narrow Way,
(behind 354 Mare Street)
PV Thursday October 4th, 6 - 9pm Gallery Opening Saturday October 6th-18th, 12pm - 5.30pm Closed Mondays
Imbroglio is pleased to present Heliacal, a group exhibition of new work by Rachel Sokal, Tessa Farmer, Miriam Nabarro and Rachel Thomson.
Heliacal is part of East London Festival of Photography 2012.
In this exhibition, a series of delicate and ephemeral artworks are shown that reveal an artistic fascination with the power of the sun, concerns about our part in it's environmental impact and the parasitical order inherent in natural systems. A hunt for the miniscule, bewitching ‘fairy’ sculptures of Tessa Farmer, constructed from roots, leaves and dead insects, invites a journey up a spiral staircase through the cobwebbed rooms of Hackneys’ medieval clock tower.
In the Bell room Rachel Sokals’ chlorophyll prints, made using the leafs natural chemistry and sunlight, hang under ghostly shrouds, each unveiling leading to the works ultimate destruction. In the lower rooms the earliest form of cyanotype ‘sun’ photography is exploited by Rachel Thomson who makes photogram impressions of floating entities out of discarded plastic bags, whilst Miriam Nabarro’s triptych captures the eerie shadow of a Mulga tree, collected on Warumpi Hill, the most sacred Honey Ant Dreaming (Tjupi Dreaming) site in Central Australia.
Click here for more info (Look for 'St. Augustine's Tower')...
STROUD: 'Old Beliefs'
4 – 14 October 2012, open daily 11am – 6pm (and at other times by appointment) Preview 4th October 2012, 6 -9 pm Antlers Gallery, 1 Middle St, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5 1DZ
The title Old Beliefs is a direct translation of ‘Gamle Tro’, the Swedish common speech term for Folklore. It references the strong natural history elements in the exhibition and the relevance of nature as metaphor in the artists’ practice. Works with strong narrative elements, pieces that evoke a sense of the uncanny and references to the natural world unify the artists.
This exhibition reveals a group of artists at an exciting point in their careers who, although working independently, share common points of reference as part of a bourgeoning international scene. This is a great exhibition to get a taster for the artists Antlers represents.
Exhibiting artists: Abigail Reed, Alexander Korzer-Robinson, Amy Timms, Anouk Mercier, Charles Emerson, Jessica Bartlett, Rachel Sokal, Rose Sanderson, Tim Lane.
Click here for more info...
** 2nd September 2012: VIDEO OF 'LIVING ECHO' **
If you didn't make it to the real deal during the bristol Festival of Photography in May this year, you have press youre nose against your screen and pretend you're there now with this video of the whole show!
Thanks so much to: Jess Jackson (Editor), Cat McLoughlin (Assistant Editor), Paul Blakemore (Video), Nils Frahm (Music).
** 29th August 2012: ANTLERS GALLERY SHOW IN OCTOBER **
Yipee! The illustrious Antlers Galleryhas invited me to join them as their newest artist! See my artist page on their site.
Group exhibition in Stroud in October! More info soon...
** 2nd August 2012: Low cost CYANOTYPES WORKSHOP next Friday at Bristol Folk House **
The cyanotype is an historical photographic process that creates Prussian Blue prints using sunlight and without complex equipment. In this fun workshop you will discover this creative technique, print your own cyanotypes. Then carry on at home! No experience needed. Materials included in this low cost workshop.
Friday 10 August 2012 - 10:00 to 16:00
Fee: Full fee £29.50 / Over 60s £27.25 / Benefit £21.00
Course code: SS38
Book: 0117 926 2987
Info: Bristol Folk House Summer School
** 1st July 2012: LONDON and SARDINIA! **
Phew! Thanks everyone for coming to Living Echo and the other exhibitions I was involved in for the Bristol Festival of Photography. What a rewarding, inspiring, exhausting few months that was! But how great to complete a stage of this mammoth project.
So, after a short break - ONWARDS! Here's what's in the offing so far...
- 'Heliacal Belonging to the sun’ - October 2012, East London Photomonth:
Heliacal will bring together three photographers Miriam Nabarrro, Rachel Sokal and Rachel Thomson who rely directly on sun light to create their work. Exploring our fear and fascination with the power of the sun and our concerns about it's environmental impact, the photographic works will appear as ghostly and unstable traces in unexpected contexts and will be discovered and ultimately destroyed by the viewers curiosity (by being exposed to sunlight) Exploiting the artistry of old analogue photographic techniques, Heliacal offers an alternative to the accustomed slicker digital technologies and unashamedly reminds us of impermanence, imperfection and incompleteness.
- 'IllusoriaMente', European Conference for Visual Perception, Alghero in Sardinia 1st -6th Sep 2012:
I'm honoured to be invited to contribute to this exhibition, which is part of the Visual Science of Art Symposium at this international conference on perception. I'll be focusing partly on the scientific process used to make my leaf prints and particularly on the experience of looking at them, knowing that by looking you're actively part of their destruction.
** 26th April 2012: LAST CHANCE TO BOOK - 5 WEEK ALTERNATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE **
My Alternative Photography Processes course at Bristol Folk House is starting next Tuesday. Last chance to book! 5 weekly evening classes, Tues 7-10pm... I had some particularly happy students last time, going on to put on a show featuring the group's work in the BFOP!
"SO good - I had no expectations but this course was much more than I expected! Really good value for money."
In this five week course we will adventure through five historical and alternative photographic processes: pinhole photography, lumen printing, anthotype, cyanotype and salt print. Make your own reusable camera from a matchbox, print photos using only crushed petals, create handmade prussian blue prints using a 19th Century process and much more! Everyone welcome.
Course begins: Tuesday 01 May 2012 5 week course
From: 19:00 to 22:00
Fee: Full fee £91.75 / Over 60s £84.25 / Benefit £65.50
If you're free between 6 and 8pm tonight, fancy a yummy wholesome meal, some artist talks and live music all for £5, then come along to Spoon Fed. It's fun, good value AND all the money goes towards helping someone's project happen. I'm proposing my leaves tonight, amongst many other great artists. Have a look at the lineup here. PLEASE RESERVE YOUR PLACE HERE so they can make enough yummy food for everyone!
The venue is different every month, showcasing different arts spaces in Bristol. Tonight is at the here - an old pub turned art venue round the corner from the Trinity Centre.
** 7th April 2012: FINALIST IN ANOTHER COMPETITON! **
** 31st March 2012: PRESS RELEASE for my upcoming solo exhibition **
17th – 31st May 2012
The Island Gallery, The Blue Gate, Bridewell Street, Bristol, BS1 2QD
Mon-Sat 12-6pm - Sun 12-4pm
Rachel Sokal exhibits her new series of ephemeral chlorophyll prints, photos printed onto leaves using only sunlight. Enter a surreal world where leaves have eyes, chlorophyll meets skin and the distinctions between plant, animal and mineral begin to blur. But be careful! The sunlight which made the images will slowly destroy them, as they hang in a glass-roofed gallery in the centre of Bristol.
By placing a photo printed onto plastic over a leaf, then leaving it out in the sun for several days, the leaf itself takes the place of photographic paper. Yet no chemicals or electric lights are needed here, just the sun! The leaf is still alive as the photo develops onto it; only drying once the process is over and the print-out is lifted away. Just as the leaf itself had a lifespan, so does the image now printed onto it. These chlorophyll prints continue their slow change whenever they are exposed to sunlight, slowly breaking down and disappearing forever.
In this highly original exhibition Rachel Sokal explores the parallels between human and plant bodies, our place within changing ecologies and the effects of too much sun on living cells. Living Echo will be a rare chance to see the leaves themselves, some of them so delicate they may only be shown once. Living Echo I may be one such print; a Nasturtium leaf with the artist’s eye printed into it using the plant’s own photosynthetic structures. The human eye, our main light receptor, is printed using the plant's own light receptors; an echo between living bodies, made with sunlight.
Rachel’s chlorophyll prints have already been selected in three international photography competitions since 2010, most recently winning the Director’s Honorable Mention at The Center for Fine Art Photography, CO, USA. Rachel is a resident writer for Vignette, a national photography magazine, and teaches photography from her studio in Bristol, specialising in alternative photographic processes. She has facilitated high profile community arts projects at the Chiapas Photography Project, BBC Outreach and Bristol City Council among other institutions.
** 30th March 2012: MORE ALTERNATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY COURSES **
Happy spring everyone!
I'm going to be running two more Alternative Photography courses at Bristol Folk House this spring/summer, booking open now:
In this five week course we will adventure through five historical and alternative photographic processes: pinhole photography, lumen printing, anthotype, cyanotype and salt print. Make your own reusable camera from a matchbox, print photos using only crushed petals, create handmade prussian blue prints using a 19th Century process and much more! Everyone welcome.
Course begins: Tuesday 01 May (code:A52) / Tuesday 12th June (code:A53)
From: 19:00 to 22:00
Fee: Full fee £91.75 / Over 60s £84.25 / Benefit £65.50
Bookings: 0117 926 2987
These seem to be popular so book early!
** 8th March 2012: I JUST WON A PRIZE IN THE USA! **
In fact the image of mine you'll see in the link is a little preview of my new series of chlorophyll prints.
These leafy specimens will be on show in Bristol in May for the Bristol Festival of Photography... More info soon!
[b]** 15th Feb 2012: Courses and Day Workshops at Bristol Folk House **
Happy day after Valentines Day everyone.
It's also half term, which means that a fresh batch of courses will be starting at Bristol Folk House next week. INCLUDING my new 5 week course in ALTERNATIVE PHOTOGRAPHIC PROCESSES. Which I'm really excited about. This group is full, but I will be running the same 5 week course twice in the Summer Term. Watch out for their summer programme because this course booked out very very quickly.
I'm also running several Day / Half Day Workshops at the Folk House, both this term and the next:
CYANOTYPE, SALT PRINTING and PINHOLE PHOTOGRAPHY.
** 12th Feb 2012: Talk in Goa CAP and Chlorophyll Prints **
Well a rather belated Happy New Year to you all! Though I've been making updates on My Facebook page and Twitter (@RachelSokal), the rickety net connections whilst I was away didn't stand up to updating things here too well!
So a quick roundup: I've just returned from visiting Goa Centre for Alternative Photography in India, where I was lucky enough to be invited to give a talk on my Chlorophyll Print series. Whilst I was there I also made fabulous progress with this series and I'm looking forward to EXHIBITING this series finally, after 18 months of hard work developing it. WATCH THIS SPACE, more info SOON....
If you want to find some more information on the general range of workshops I offer, then have a look at this downloadable brochure. These general templates can be tailored to suit the specific needs and aims of your group or project. Just email for more information and ideas: firstname.lastname@example.org
ALTERNATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY - 5 week course at Bristol Folk House
Adventure through five historical and alternative photographic processes, packed into this five week course: pinhole photography, lumen printing, anthotype, cyanotype and salt print. Make your own reusable camera from a matchbox, print photos using only crushed petals, create handmade prussian blue prints using a 19th Century process and much more! Any level welcome for this well guided course. The group will be small so please book early.
Dates & Time: starting 21st Feb or 5 weeks, every Tues 7-10pm
Course code: A52
Enolment opens 1st Dec 9am: 0117 926 2987
**20th November 2011: STUDIO SPACE AVAILABLE **
We’re 5 photographers sharing an affordable Bristol city centre darkroom studio: NEAT Studios
We’re looking for energetic new members who are dying to get into the darkroom, put it to good use and bring new ideas to our studio.
There is space to incorporate digital practice alongside the darkroom, and we are currently discussing ways to develop the studio in the future.
New members for the start of January (or sooner if you’re keen).
Tours and tea asap.
- BS1 City Centre location
- Very affordable rent
- Access 24hrs
- Several enlargers: 35mm, 120mm and 5x4
- Communal resources: full b&w darkroom, scanner, frames and books
- Alternative processes equipment and skillshare
We currently have a few separate rooms:
- Storage / resource room
- Chemical cupboard
- Digital room / office
Ok it's been a while, but I've been busy!
I had a fabously productive an creative month in the countryside of Ibiza. And here site a whole new, big and more developd series of leaf prints, waiting to be shown in 2012. I'm about to work on the other half of the series, this time taking things to the cellular level...
So watch this space.
After an incredibly busy summer with pinhole workshops at Shambala Festival, Swindon Museum, and Bristol Folk House. Salt Print and Cyanotype workshops at Bristol Folk House and joinging the Vignette magazine team... I'm currently taking some time out! I've managed to find a small studio space in southern Spain, and I'm spending a month working on leaf prints, anthotypes and other sunny photo adventures! For other regular updates, please see my Facebook page: Rachel Sokal | Photography
** 19th Aug 2011: KIDS WORKSHOPS WITH SWINDON BOROUGH COUNCIL **
I had a brilliant time yesterday running two pinhole photography workshops at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, thanks to Swindon Borough Council Arts. They have a lovely exhibit of historical cameras at the moment and it was great to tie the kids workshops into the history of photography and optics! We had quite a bit of interest from the local newspaper, the Swindon Advertiser too.
** 14th June 2011: ANOTHER EXHIBITION ON NOW! **
I'm happy to say that I am showing a small selection of spanking new and experimental work alongside the other NEAT Studios photographers at The Runcible Spoon on Ninetree Hill, Bristol. This new restaurant was opened recently by some friends of mine and they serve lovely local seasonal food and drinks. Feel free to pop in and have a look downstairs, eating or not though!
This show is up for the rest of the month. I'm showing two series of one-off solarised photographs and cyanotypes. Spoons do feature.
** 12th June 2011: BRISTOL CITY COUNCIL COMMUNITY ARTS PROJECT EXHIBITION **
I was lucky enough to work on a Bristol City Council community arts project earlier this year, working with local elders in St. Paul's and young people in the area. We listened to their stories of this community and helped them to pass on important moments in their lives through 'storytelling portraits'.
It's well worth a visit - I feel like I have come to know and appreciate my Bristol-home community so much more through this project, and it's wonderful to value our local elders like this.
** 12th June 2011: NEW ALTERNATIVE PROCESS WORKSHOPS! **
Ok. It's been a while, but I've been busy experiementing with a fabulous new piece of equipment. I've invested in a UV exposure unit, which means I'm now working intensively on cyanotypes, salt prints and other alternative photography processes which print using UV light. (As well as photosynthesis prints of course!). Very exciting. I'll put some of my latest images up soon.
This also means I'm now offering cyanotype and salt print workshops, currently at Bristol Folk House and to my private students.
A small insight into what we've been doing:
What a busy month, but what a satisfying one!
I've been living the 'community arts dream' working on two fabulous projects in my home town of Bristol. One run by Bristol City Council (more info soon) and 'Live In and Live On: Easton'; a BBC Outreach project working to bring the generations together in Easton, Bristol. Over the past 7 weeks we have been working with pensioners who have been based in Easton for decades or even generations, and teenagers recently arrived in the UK with English as a second language. Some of the young people came from conflict zones just before the project began, with little or no English.
We began the project by sharing stories of Easton between us all; around 22 teenagers from the DICE project at City Academy and 10 pensioners from the Kensington Baptist Church day centre, 7 local artists including myself and several BBC and youth worker facilitators. It was interesting to see common ground between some of the pensioners who came to the UK from Jamaica in the 60s and the young people who are now finding their feet, fighting racism and making new friends in the same neighbourhood a few decades on.
We then slpit into smaller groups, one artist facilitating their sharing, by using their artform as a common language, away from the fraught concentration of grammar and vocabulary.There were three people with me in my group: Hani who arrived from Somalia just before this project with no English at all, Michi who came to the UK from Romania 4 years ago and Ann, a lady who has lived in Easton for most of her life.
First we shared our stories about Easton and looked at Ann’s photos from when she was growing up here just like Michi and Hani. There were some photos of a street party on All Hallows Rd (1945), an Egg and Spoon race (1953) and Ann’s painting class at Nursery School (1947). She even had photoof her dad and granddad at the same school in Bannerman Road. Mixing these old photos of Easton with modern-day ones, we built up a visual conversation about our memories and experiences of these same streets.
Then we each made two pinhole cameras: the first one was made out of matchboxes and used film, the second one was made out of re-cycled cans and we used a darkroom to develop the photos from it. We decided to use our cameras to re-create some of Ann’s old photos in today’s Easton - echoes from the past with faces from today. Even though lots of things are different from when Ann was growing up, some things are still the same. Kids (and big kids like me, Marion and Tom!) still run races in the park and cheat at egg and spoon races, and feel at home on the same streets.
It was touching to see cheeky-monkey-Michi put aside his sometimes disruptive behaviour to help Ann with care and attention, taking pride in the group's work as well as his own. By the last session Hani had not only learnt everyday words like 'house' but was able to teach other children how to print photos in the darkroom. This was a particular success story, since Hani had started the project in complete silence and with a very shy attitude. The confidence Hani buit up, the behaviour patterns Michi started to put into place and the language skills they both learnt were incredibly touching to see.
Ann went above and beyond her many other pensioner's committment to the project, attending each session, with a real willingness to understand where these children had come from and a desire to welcome them into the community with her stories of it's history and culture. Marion, another pensioner who came every week despite severe mobility and health issues, was a star 'egg and spoon racer' in our reconstructions of Ann's 1953 race. She posed, both sticks in one hand, egg and spoon in the other laughing at her childhood memories and at Michi's determination to pose just slightly ahead of her!
Thank you to all, it has been a real privilege. Here's to many more wonderful community projects like this one!
** 24th Feb 2011: Pinhole Photography Workshops NEXT WEEK! **
Hi everyone I'm planning a whole load of great courses at Bristol Folk House this Spring, starting next week! Come along, make a camera and take part in WORLD PINHOLE DAY! Long courses and mini workshops - so there are even some super cheap options - starting at under £25!
Have a look here for more info, or call 0117 926 2987:
** 18th Jan 2011: FOLKHOUSE COURSE - LAST BOOKING DATES NOW **
I'm running a fab new course at Bristol Folk House, starting on Thursday eve this week. Learn how to:
- make and use 2 durable, working cameras out of everyday materials
- tint an old print with sepia
-jazz up colour photos with a dab of bleach and a brush
-make your own colourful photographs on paper by hand in nyour own home
** CHRISTMAS MARKETS 11th-19th Dec '10 **
Hello everyone, I'm off to a few Christmas Markets in Bristol this weekend and next week too. They're going to be fun, festive events, and pretty civilised in comparison to how Broadmead will be!
I'll have a few new things for sale, including some smaller, even more affordable framed versions of my photosynthesis prints.
11th + 18th Dec, 11am - 4pm
MADE IN BRISTOL GIFT FAIR, Colston Hall, Bristol. - Hand picked top quality handmade, local work. Made in Bristol Gift Fair
12th + 19th Dec, 11am - 5pm
CARBOOT CIRCUS, The Old Fire Station, BS1 2PY
A Christmas Market you want to spend the day at. High art and cheap tat, live bands, grotto and photo booth, mulled cider, warm fires... and the odd circus freak! Carboot Circus - Your Local Christmas Bizarre
** 12th Oct '10: SELECTED VIA INTERNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITON TO EXHIBIT IN THE U.S.A!**
Can't believe it.
I entered the competition in a routine sort of way. And now 'Still Alive V' is about to wing it's way to the prestigious MPLS Photo Center in Minneapolis! I feel a bit like that old guy in Mary Poppins who ends up zooming about the ceiling laughing and laughing......!
** 20.Sep.10: BACK IN BRISTOL AND OFFERING PHOTOGRAPHY TUITION AGAIN... **
Want to improve your photography? Need help with a project? I can help ...And we can even have fun in the process!
- Experienced tutor, workshop facilitator and photographer based in city centre studio - darkrooms
- Fun creative lessons tailored to suit you
- All levels and ages, small groups or individuals
- Specialises in practical lessons
- Digital, film and alternative processes such as pinhole, cyanotype etc.
- Excellent references and testimonies available
- Previous experience includes: Education Co-ordinator and Resident Artist in a respected international charity, supporting tutor for an A level student with special needs, tutor for foundation year portfolio project, workshop facilitator in various UK community arts organisations and events, tutor for vocational training for media professional, and of course tutor to lots of people who just love photography and want to learn more!
£20/hr one-to-one intensive classes / 5% discount for a block of 10 classes paid in advance.
Small group: price goes down, depending on numbers
Flexible hours - central Bristol - willing to travel within Bristol.
** 19th Sept '10: PINHOLE PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP AT BRISTOL FOLK HOUSE! **
Come along and learn how to make a camera out of a matchbox and an old drinks can! Walk away with two cameras you made yourself and even a few photos already! No experience necessary. Booking closes soon, so hurry!
Bristol Folk House
** 19th Sept '10: You can now see all the live updates I made below about my work with the Chiapas Photography Project in the 'Articles' section on the left hand menu.
** 7th Sept '10: YOUR SHAMBALA PINHOLE PHOTOS AND INSTRUCTIONS **
Your Shambala Pinhole photos are flooding in now! Thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed the workshops. Have a look at the gallery under 'photography' on the left hand menu to find your very own gallery, complete with reloading instructions....
** 31st Aug '10: THANK YOU SHAMBALA! **
What fun! Thanks to Gail for inviting me to do the pinhole camera workshops at Shambala this year, and a huge thank you to everyone who came along! I had great fun down there at the Random Workshops tent, and I hope you did too. I heard "one shambala, two shambala, three shambala..." echoing around the site during the weekend! And a few of you even finished your films by sunday night! FAB!
Don't forget to tell me know you got on, let me know if you need any help and PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE SEND YOUR PICS IN! Lets show EVERYONE what brilliant pinhole photographers you are.
(email on the workshop handout or via the 'contact' page here)
** 24TH aug '10: MORE PINHOLE PHOTO9GRAPHY WORKSHOPS AT BRISTOL FOLK HOUSE COMING SOON! **
Saturday 18th September.
More info soon!
**24th Aug '10: MAKE A MATCHBOX PINHOLE CAMERA AT SHAMBALA - THE PERFECT FESTIVAL CAMERA - SMALL LIGHT AND CREATIVE! **
So I'm off to Shambala Festival this weekend - not just for my health but to run some workshops too! Look out for my pinhole photography workshops in the random workshops tent on Friday 3.15pm and Saturday 12pm!
Places are limited to 10 per session so don't forget to sign up before hand!
After some fabulous photoshoots last week I'm zooming forward with a whole new range of images to print onto leaves. This new series will develop on from the work shown at the Still Alive exhibition. Shaprer, more complex, some bigger some smaller, different shapes.... The glass is ready tomorrow and all systems are GO!
** 27th July '10: PINHOLE PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS AT BRISTOL FOLK HOUSE **
Come and get a taster of the workshops I teach. I'm running some short courses at Bristol Folk House summer school. Bristol Folk House is a brilliant self funding charity which offers top quality creative education in the centre of Bristol.
- Mon 2nd Aug: 10-4 - Make two pinhole cameras and walk away with a film camera and photos in your hand!
- Thurs 4th Aug: 6-9 - Make a camera from a matchbox in this short, accessible course.
** 19th July '10: 'STILL ALIVE' SERIES NOW ONLINE! **
Couldn't make it to the exhibition? Didn't see the photosynthesis prints on leaves?
No worries. It's online.
Check out the online gallery in the 'photography' section in the left hand menu <--
I'm hard at work developing this series further, the latest images are really exciting... and BIG! So watch out for more...
** 17th July '10 - ART FAIR TOMORROW! **
Come and enjoy some locally made art and live music at St George's, just behind Park St., Bristol: tomorrow 1.30pm onwards.
I'll be there with a selection of my work and a few gems from other NEAT Studios artists...
** EXHIBITION COMING VERY VERY SOON! 10th-17th JULY! **
Upper Gallery Space,
(The same place as the last show, round the block from the Boneyard Bar).
I just couldn't wait, could I? Another exhibition already. Come and see the first ever exciting showcase of the many and varied artists who have studios at The Island, Bristol. The Island is most often known as the home of the Invisible Circus, but it's also jam packed with painters, sculptors, printmakers, textile designers, poets and writers, graffiti artists... and the odd photographer too!
** 2nd July '10: WORKSHOPS OVER THE SUMMER **
This summer I'll be running pinhole photography workshops at the Folkhouse in Bristol and Shambala Festival.
If you're interested in private tuition or programming a workshop at your centre or event, just let me knwo and we can work out what will suit you best...
** 2nd July '10: FACEBOOK AND FLICKR... **
Well well, I'm well and truly on the technological bandwagon now.
You can find me on facebook for informal updates inbetween more in depth newsletters via the usual mailing list (which you can sign up for on the 'contact me' page on this site). Rachel Sokal Photography on Facebook
** COMING REALLY SOON: ONLINE VERSION OF RECENTLY EXHIBITED PHOTOSYNTHESIS PRINTS **
Didnt manage to get to Bristol to see our recent exhibition "Still Alive"? Want to have another look? No worries. My series of photosynthesis prints (images printed on leaves using the plant's natural process in the sun) will be online here soon! Limited edition giclee prints will also be for sale.
Also check out the NEAT Studios website for a more complete online show soon...
** 13th June 2010: ANOTHER FAB FARM FAIR AND FUN PINHOLE WORKSHOP YESTERDAY **
Thanks to all those who participated in the pinhole photography workshop I ran yesterday at the Farm Fair. Thanks, also, to the city farm at St Werburgh's for yet another brilliant fair! If you or your child has any photos from your matchbox pinhole camera, please just contact me and I'll see if I can put it up in this site.
** 10th June 2010 - NEXT EXHIBITION: NOVEMBER! **
What better way to harness the buzz, the inspiration, the release of energy from one show than to plan the next one?
November 2010. Bristol. NEAT but not tidy.
** 9th June 2010 - LOOKING ONWARDS... **
Despite the urge to simply squat the gorgeous gallery down at Bridewell Island, we have now closed the "Still Alive" exhibition.
We do seem to be taking this show down with such a leisurely pace though; I think I actually heard someone with an idea of adding to a wall, rather than subtracting!
So no need to hurry through the review and crit and comedown process, thanks to the wonderfulness of exhibiting upstairs from our studio and the bonevolent willingness of building facilitators Artspace Lifespace.
Down at NEAT we're all feeling full of momentum after the show. Spectacular success and lots of fun to boot! One particularly fab aspect of the past few weeks has been the many photographers we have all met. Thank you Photographique for putting on the first ever Bristol Festival of Photography! I feel surrounded by photographers all fo a sudden. And thanks to Bristol being such a vibrant and innovative corner of the world, that feels great. Can't wait for the collaborations, skill swaps, ideas and mutual support to come...
I'm particularly excited to whisper behind my hand that NEAT Phtoographics is collaborating with brilliant photogrpaher Tamany Baker on a series of month-longthemed projects at the moment. Keeping it fresh. On the toes again...
Brief no. 1:
WATCH THIS SPACE.
** STILL JAM THIS FRIDAY 4th june! Live music and projection art in the exhibition! **
Following last week's fabulous fun, we bring you another night of live projection art, music and djs to warm up your Friday night. See the exhibition transform into moving layers of image, light and sound... with a relaxed can of beer and some friendly faces in the centre of town! 9ish onwards. All welcome.
A creative sanctuary in the heart of the city.
(round the block from Boneyard Bar)
** (Funny) TIME LAPSE SEQUENCE OF HANGING OUR EXHIBITION! ***
Sneak a peek at the madness of hanging and the buzz of an opening party...
Brilliant. An interesting, interactive and welcoming show in a stunning glass roof gallery space in the city centre. Come and have a glass of juice with us, sit in a deckchair and browse one of our books, or peer under the blackout curtains to see one of my photosynthesis prints... Or maybe join us for Workshop Wednesdays or some live music and picture show this Friday?
***** EXHIBITION OF NEW WORK NOW SHOWING IN BRISTOL! *****
AN EXHIBITION OF NEW WORK
FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHERS AT NEAT STUDIOS!
- 21st May-6th June 2010.
- Upper Gallery, Bridewell Island, Bridewell Street, Bristol, UK, BS1 (opposite the magistrates court)
It’s my great pleasure to invite you all to my first show with NEAT Studios, my studio home in the UK; a cauldron of creativity! NEAT Studios Five up and coming photographers with diverse interpretations on this theme show a selection of new work in the heart of Bristol city centre. And what better excuse to put on a bit of a visual party than the first ever Bristol Festival of Photography?! I’ll be fresh back from working Mexico, full of new photos, stories and inspiration to share! Come and explore my new series of images and see just how alive film and alternative photographic process still are...
Please join us for a nice evening and a chat at our Public opening, Fri 21st May, 7.30pm-9pm
OPENING TIMES: Wed-Sat: 10am-6pm, Sun: 10am-4pm
Late opening with music: Fri 28th May, 7-10pm
Open photography workshops: 26th May and 2nd June, 12-4pm.
** 1st May 2010: CHECK OUT OUR WRITE UP! **
Click on the link below and transport yourself into Maya Haviland's fabulous blog 'Side by Side; practices in collaborative ethnography through art". Maya volunteered here at the Chiapas Photography Project in 2009 as part of her doctoral research, and she is currently also showing her own exhibition in Australia.
Have a look at her short writeup of our pinhole work to date:
** 30th April 2010: SNEAK PREVIEW OF PINHOLE EXHIBITION WORK ON WORLD PINHOLE DAY SITE! **
How exciting, thousands of pinhole photographers from all over the world sharing their work from one day.
AND WE'RE GIVING YOU A SNEAK PREVIEW of our imminent pinhole photography exhibition in their gallery! Have a look at the address below to see photos from Juana Lopez Lopez, Antonia Giron Intzin, Antonia Santiz Giron and myself.
Or just go to www.pinholeday.org
--> 2010 gallery
--> Mexico, Chiapas State (we're the only ones in there at present)
** 30th April 2010: PINHOLE EXHIBITION SELECTION! **
I can't believe that there's only one more session left of the course. Not to mention that in just two weeks I will be spending my last evening in San Cristobal, before returning to put on several exhibitions in the UK!
Today we finished the rough cut of work to include in our final show. How rewarding to see all the work laid out together. Three films, and 6 drinks can photos, two cameras, two months and lots of biscuits later, the participants really do seem to have a grasp on the possibilities pinhole photography can offer them into the future. I'm working on a picture-based instruction sheet on the construction and use of the pinhole cameras we've worked with, and several participants have shown interest in teaching the process onwards...
But before looking too far forward, there's still and exhibition to mount! Time for framing, scanning, printing... and probably a good old British roast dinner at my flat to celebrate!
** 28th April 2010: NOW ON TWITTER**
Ok so Twitter got me finally! I've been pleasantly surprised, it actually is a great way to stay up to date with your interests.
Follow me with day to day news of my work above, or directly: @RachelSokal
** 26th April 2010: TWO MORE WORKSHOP SESSIONS AND SOME GREAT NEW PHOTOS! **
[Juana Lopez Lopez, Antonia Giron Intzin, Antonia Santiz Giron; uncharacteristically serious during the first stage of selection for our exhibition.]
Well, its two workshop sessions since I last updated on it. Busy busy! We've now finished the second and third rolls of film, and a few more photos with the drinks can camera.
Such fabulous developments!
The participants are so much more confident both with the methods for taking pinhole photos, but also in their openness to this form of photography.
In this final roll of film Lupita turned the inner tray of the matchbox camera around, revealing the heart shaped aperture she had cut. Heart shaped photos! Juana adjusted the cardboard mask inside her camera, making her photos appear with a lovely soft oval vignette.
All of them have been eperimenting with super close ups -an interesting capability of pinhole cameras -with some great results.
So we've now finished producing work for the course, and we've moved onto the preparations for our exhibition. We'll launch the exhibition here in San Cristobal de las Casas, before touring within the UK and possibly beyond.
Today we did the first stage of selection, with some interesting votes being cast! Its so interesting to see a group show come together, especially with emerging new values of aesthetics coming into play.
We also selected some photos to include in thr World Pinhole Day online gallery! WATCH THIS SPACE FOR A LINK!
** 25th April 2010: SUNDAY SESSION - REFUGIA AND HER SON NEFTALI POP ROUND TO MAKE MATCHBOX CAMERAS **
Another lovely sunday with visitors. Refugia, a Chol photographer who is working on a photography book telling her family's history, visited me with her son today. Since Refugia is a single mum working two jobs, she didnt have time to take part in the pinhole photography course. Luckily she could make it today so she could construct her own matchbox pinhole camera. Soon Neftali started making the best pinholes I've seen on pices of aluminium, so of course he had to make one for himself too! Unfortunately we won't be able to include their work in the upcomming pinhole course's exhibition, but its great to see the insiration spreading further! Perhaps they can submit some work on this site or on the World Pinhole Day gallery later...
** 24th April 2010: LETS TAKE PHOTOS RESPECTFULLY **
Wokolok, ya stak' jlok'esbet junuk a lok'omba?
"May I take a photo please?" in Tseltal, a local Mayan language.
Following my MA research, I proposed and idea in the project last week: lets make a leaflet giving advice to visitors to this region on when and how it is ok to take photos of indigenous local people and their communities. Its so easy for even the most respectful visitor to cause offence here simply by not knowing local etiquettes around phtoography. So lets make it better for everyone and encourage greater understanding. The photographers agree with the idea and have been working on the content this week... so its full steam ahead! A new Chiapas Photography Project advice leaflet coming soon to local hotels and sites as well as to larger tourism publications.
** 22nd April 2010: MA RESEARCH NOW DOWNLOADABLE! **
Finally. I've navigated the world of pdf files and all that jazz and you can now download copies of the following (lots of pretty pictures!):
1. INDIGENOUS PHOTOGRAPHERS IN MEXICO
My MA Thesis research:
"Intersecting photographic gazes, relations of power and intercultural communication; indigenous photographers and the tourist gaze in contemporary Chiapas, Mexico."
** 18th April 2010: SUNDAY COOKING WITH JUANA, PHOTOGRAPHER FROM CHAMULA **
[Juana Lopez Lopez's portrait of me struggling to make my tamales look as good as her's! Note the presence of a nice cup of tea alongside the maize - Juana's a convert!]
Juana places the tamales into the pot for steaming; "Theres an old saying: only one person can put them in, otherwise the tamales won't cook well."
Today I spent the afternoon with Juana, one of the photographers from Chamula (Author of the book Kichtik / Our Chile). We had a cooking exchange - so much fun! We made 52 tamales with mumo and frijol and 12 pancakes with blackberry sauce. Fed the neighbours and the neighbour's dog too! Its magical when friendship can grow even in a context of such extreme cultural difference and lack of trust. miraculous. Next sunday cooking session: handmade maize tortillas vs. elderflower cordial.
**10th April: PINHOLE STUDENTS OPEN UP TO NEW AESTHETICS AND CONCEPTS OF PHOTOGRAPHY!**
What an immense priviledge to be working with such creative and open minded photographers.
[Xuno Lopez Intzin and Antonia Santiz Giron, both Tzeltal speaking photographers originally from Tenejapa, laughing (probably at my terrible Tzeltal!) whilst making their matchbox cameras. 30.3.10]
Yesterday we reviewed the first film from the matchbox pinhole camera, then we worked on improving the design and method of phtoographing. Even though it was a tester film to get used to the camera and to improve it, there were still some real gems.
We spent quite some time looking over the photos, learning to accept them as their own form of photography and being open to the images in their own right. This is quite a shift for these photographers, who have had minimal exposure to contemporary art photography or abstraction, usually valuing sharp, centred images. And yet this is exposure to these concepts within their own terms and their own world. Rather than showing them mountains of examples, I am helping them open out to these new aesthetics and concepts of photography through acceptance and interest in new aspects of their own work. And they're rising to the challenge with such willingness, its deeply inspiring. I wonder how I would act in their position.
Some comments from today:
Looking at an accidentally overlapping image of two street scenes:
"It feels like confusion"
Looking at a very soft image of trees in a park:
"This is my favourite, it looks like a painting not a photo... the difference is that you can't see all the leaves... so it looks like it has been done with a paintprush instead. Its beautiful."
Looking at a very abstract image which accidentally shows an prism arc of lights against a grey-brown background:
"I really like this photo. I don't know how this happened with the lights...but they look like christmas lights and I really like it."
Looking at a long exposure of a chicken:
"I like this one because the chicken looks strange. You can see the feet but the body is strange and it looks like the shape of a pig!...A pig-chicken!"
Looking at a street scene with heavy lightleak which gives the image a haze of different colours:
"I like this photo because it looks like a painting because it is very soft. Because light got into the camera there are lots of strange coours but it makes it look more artistic and even old fashioned."
**30th March: TIME FOR THE MATCHBOX PINHOLE CAMERA **
[Lupita Guzman Intzin, a Tzeltal speaking photographer from Tenejapa finshes up her matchbox pinhole camera 30.3.10]
Some comments from today, on seeing their latest photos and making the matchbox pinhole camera:
"Oh how wonderful! I love my photos. I'm going to have my own exhibition of them after this!"
"This is fun"
"Great! Now I'm going play with my new camera in the [indigenous] communities and take photos of the Easter celebrations!"
"I want to teach other people in my community how to do this. I want to show them that you dont need an expensive camera to take photos."
"This type of photography is different, it has a different feeling. I like it."
** 26th March: PARTICIPANTS MORE EXPERIMENTAL WITH THEIR DRINKS CAN PINHOLE CAMERAS **
After a second session with the drinks can pinhole cameras the participants were experimenting confidently with different aesthetics and techniques. It was wonderful to see them happily explaining the process to the crowd of curious onlookers from the academic staff who work next to the Indigenous Photography Archive. Somewhat of a role reversal - delicious.
One photographer, moving past the common local aesthetic judgement that 'blurry is bad', decided to do handheld pinhole photos today, producing some great ghostly images!
** 23rd March: Rachel at work with a pinhole camera in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico **
Photo thanks to my neighbour (and new student!) Enrique Ayon
*** 21st March: FIRST PINHOLE PHOTOS ARE "WONDERFUL" SAY PARTICIPANTS ***
During the first session of the Pinhole Photography Course on Friday we made cameras out of drinks cans. I was aware of how different this type pf photography is from the kind these people know and love. In this context there seems to be a reliance on equipment and specific technical and aesthetic norms to feel comfortable with a photo. This seems to be partly their own development of aesthetic and technical values of photography, and partly from a pervasive sense of subordinace and a search for legitimacy in a wider social context (indigenous Mexicans have had a notoriously difficult time across the country, but particularly in this region).
Pinhole photography, especially the more surreal kind like the image below (also made with a drinks can) challenges the concepts and norms of photography within this group of photographers. The camera is recycled from rubbish, the images do look different. I spent a long while thinking over how to phrase my introduction to this kind of photography, how to help the group open out to it with curiosity, rather than reject it as strange, blurry, not centred, non-representational.
My aim during this course is to open out these concepts of what photography can be - what can be valued in it - along with a growing sense of authority and confidence as photographers.
So imagine my profound delight (and relief) when the first reactions to their images were unusually animated:
"Oh how wonderful! Its amazing!"
"Oh its great! My photo looks like a painting!"
"I really didn't think my photo would look like this, I really like it!"
I feel this will be a gradual process, but I think we got off to a suprisingly good start...
*** 17th March: A pinhole view of the Indigenous Photography Archive! ***
The first session of my two month course on pinhole photography starts this friday, watch this space!
*** 10th March: A week of holding the fort ***
Well! I've been holding the fort here for the past week while the director has been away, which has been a real learning experience and an opportunity to get to know the photographers a little better.
I've been mentoring some of the photographers with current personal projects. Refugia Guzman Perez, a Ch'ol photogrpaher is working on a fascinating book about issues of migration from ethnic, rural communities to multicultural cities through the story of her own family's migration to San Cristobal.
I've also been taking lots of pinhole photos around San Cristobal after work, which is so interesting since there is usually such a strong reaction to a foreigner with a camera - sellers crowd around you, immediately identifying you as a tourist... but not when its made of a drinks can! Instead theres curiosity and more dialogue.
*** 28th Feb '10: SETTLED IN AND PUSHING FORWARDS! ***
What a full and interesting week of work here at the Chiapas Photography Project! Its so interesting to learn how important photography can be as a means of self expression in this context of patchy literacy and widespread oppression.
In such an active yet small project there is always a lot to do, and lots of different projects on the go at once. I have to take my hat off to Carlota Duarte, the director of CPP, she seems to run this charity single handedly! ...Which of course means my days are filling up fast with a really varied array of activities. For now, let me tell you about just one of them:
I'm about to finalise the start-up paperwork for my first 8 week photography training course here: PINHOLE PHOTOGRAPHY! Pinhole photography has such potential here, in a context where many people live humbly and others in extreme poverty. Pinhole cameras can be made inexpensively out of everyday objects like cans and matchboxes, yet they can produce wonderfully expressive photos. I hope to use this aspect of photography to entice a new type of creativity from the local indigenous photographers, who have largely focused on documentary style work so far. I also hope to show how accessible photography really can be...
*** 19th feb '10: COMING SOON: an online version of my postrad research into indigenous photographers in Chiapas, Mexico. It's not just long words, honest! There are lots of pretty pictures to look at too... ***
***14th Feb '10: LIFE AND WORK IN SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS ***
So, the beginning of my work here in Chiapas begins in earnest tomorrow after a week of house hunting and introductions in the archive and in photographer's meetings. And yes, there have been several tummy issues this past week too! Of course.
Its so exciting to see the photographers I worked with a year and a half ago. Some wonderful projects have been launched in my absence, such as the Migrations exhibition, soon to be available to see on the Side by Side website: http://www.sidebyside.net.au/ and Refugia Guzman Perez's work which is previewed on the same site.
This week I'll be helping Juana, Refugia and Lupita in the Indigenous Photography Archive, where they are deep in the process of digitising the collection. This is no mean feat, since there are in the region of 85,000 images in the archive! This process will not only back-up the physical collection, but it also offers several opportunities for the staff (most of whom are indigenous photographers themselves) to gain new computer, archival and literacy skills.
I'll also be working on a proposal with the photographers to run a workshop in pinhole photography and creative photo processes... WATCH THIS SPACE!
Even though I'm far far away from my home town of Bristol UK, I'm still keeping up with local affairs!
...TESCO are planning to open a new store in Stokes Croft, a lively cultural centre of Bristol, which is the theme of my article included on this site. As you can imagine this would be detrimental to the unique local character of this area. If you are interested in attending the demonstration against this or signing the petition, please see:
***8th Feb '10: ARRIVED IN MEXICO, READY TO START INSPIRING NEW WORK WITH INDIGENOUS PHOTOGRAPHERS ***
I'm very happy to tell you all that I'm here, in the Southern mountains of Mexico in the town of San Cristobal de las Casas, ready to start work with local Mayan photographers (www.chiapasphoto.org).
I'll be here, helping the general running of the project but also developing their new education programme in the comming months. Read more about what I'll be doing in the section on the menu to the left.
WATCH THIS SPACE for regular updates, photos and slices of life in this remote, colourful and complex corner of Mexico!
I have joined NEAT Studios in The Island, Bridewell, Bristol! www.neatstudios.co.uk
NEAT is also home to many other young Bristol-based creatives, including two brilliant photographers: Paul and Karen.
The Island is a creative cauldron, bubbling amongst Broadmead, Bristol's shopping centre. It houses hundreds of bright sparks, from sculptors to musicians and including the norotious Invisible Circus.
WATCH THIS SPACE FOR SOME EXCITING NEW NEAT (BUT NOT TIDY) COLLABORATIONS!
(Photo above thanks to Paul Blakemore - NEAT Studios)
*** WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY? ***
I can help!
I'm currently giving one to one photography lessons around Bristol.
Learn the fun way: work on a project together, learn the technical stuff as you follow your own inspiration!
£15/ 1 hour private lesson.
Excellent references from past students available.
*** PINHOLE CAMERA WORKSHOP ***
Make a camera out of a matchbox!
St. Werburgh's City Farm Fair, Bristol: 13th June '09
- I hope everyone enjoyed the workshop!
- If you have any photos you took with your matchbox camera that you would like to share, please just email me a scan!
Sorry to everyone who didn't get a chance to join in , I only had enough materials for 10 people this time.
I'll be running another one of these workshops (but with a different twist!) sometime soon in the Stokes Croft area. WATCH THIS SPACE!
*** NEW WORK WITH INDIGENOUS PHOTOGRAPHERS IN MEXICO ***
The Chiapas Photography Project, a charitable association of Indigenous Photographers in Chiapas, Mexico, have asked me to be their new Education Programme Co-ordinator.
I'm currently fundraising to make this important work possible.
Have a look at the new section on 'Indigenous Photographers in Mexico' to find out more.
If you are interested in being a donor, in whatever way you can, please just contact me.
*** COMING SOON IN BRISTOL: FUNDRAISING FILM NIGHT AND TALK ABOUT THIS PROJECT!*** If you would like to know when and where this is, please contact me to be on the mailing list (quoting this project). For more information about the Chiapas Photography Project please see the link to their website on the Links page.
Department of Hispanic, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, University of Bristol.