Inside this issue
Featured Interview with Rob Knight & Steve Devonport
Talking about 'Dark Visions' their Collaborative Exhibition at Joe Cornish Gallery
Rob has been photographing the beautiful British landscape, our urban areas and industrial heritage for thirty years. With a particular draw to the subtleties and tonal relationships of monochrome photography to help convey his personal creative vision and style.
Writer of fantasy, Cartographer of Draqbel, Student of Pulp telling, father of two amazing kids. Co-host and co-host of Dark Visions.
Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.
Rob Knight has been organising exhibitions for other people for quite a while with his 'Connected' events at the Patchings Art Centre. This time he's organising his own exhibition at the Joe Cornish Gallery in North Allerton. We travelled to see the opening of the exhibition and had an opportunity to chat with Rob about his own work, influences and how he put the exhibition together.
Dark Visions is an exhibition of monochrome photography by landscape photographer and photographic educator Rob Knight. It is based around a five year project exploring the vision, feeling and mood we both simultaneously experience and creatively define in our interaction as humans with the landscape around us.
Dark Visions explores how personal interpretation of our environment defines our creative vision and will feature a unique collaboration with two writers (Steve Devonport & Dan Ladle) who have created original pieces of writing fuelled by their interpretation of Rob’s images.
Dark Visions seeks to provide a mixed media experience drawing together through collaboration photography and writing as creative arts and will also feature both video and audio to encapsulate the audience within this landscape vision.
Tim: Where did the idea for the exhibition come from?
Rob: It’s been running for about five years but it didn’t start as a project, perhaps typical of the way you start out on these things. It’s been five years in it’s course bringing the images together though. I was doing a little bit of reflection as part of the talk I’m giving at the gallery and looking back, the original inspiration was probably from two geography teachers at school who instilled a passion for the landscape. I was also inspired by learning about people and how they interact with the landscape, and the emotional connection that exists. So you could say it’s been around for twenty five plus years! I really enjoy working with other people too and to see how people interpret art in their different creative ways. My background as a Geographer by education is as important in my artistic development as a photographer as anything else……… my personal connection to the landscape and the social contexts of the landscape that I now aim to distil in my image making.
Steve and I had a chat (and the other author, who’s now living in Australia) and we sat around bouncing some ideas about how we could work together and what we could co-create as a final piece.
Tim: When was that then?
Steve: It was 2013 as we were working at the same company. We were ships passing in the night and at one point Rob approached me. We sat down and we talked about photography and creative ideas.
Tim: Which company was that then?
Rob: Nottingham Trent University
Steve: That’s how we got together. Rob had heard that I wanted to do some writing.
Tim: Steve, where did you draw the inspiration from? Which images jumped out at as good seeds?
Steve: I was looking at doing something completely different with my writing and something that I had not done before. I wanted to create a lead female character that was strong, not passive, and dominant in her field. So "Dark Brutalism" fitted and "Dark Currents", which is the cover for the ebook are a couple of the main ones. I started at thirty images, then got it down to ten and then four. These really appealed to me and from that the story.
Tim: Is yours the time travel story?
Steve: Yes, but it’s not specifically about time travel. It's about the idea of how a scientist battles with their own thoughts. I’m not big on science, but it’s about the interactions of people instead. It’s about people’s interactions, about the germ of the idea, rather than focusing on the science of the idea. It’s about exploring people, emotions and their inter-relations with each other get in the way. The lead character battles bureaucracy in the form of a facilities administrator, she battles an ex-husband who’s jealous (he’s a clever chap in his own right) as he’s lost his love and she’s getting all the fame. The third character is a another love angle and I wanted to explore female love as I’ve never explored that idea. I wanted to write that, and how the lead character struggles with that side. It’s those inter-plays, juxa-positions - jealousy, bureaucracy, striving, and brutalism.
Tim: That’s the brutalism?
Steve: Yes exactly. The book cover is the facility at work and stretches out so it’s never ending. Hence that fits in with time.
Tim: Rob, your work in the urban landscape - with brutalism, where does that come from?
Rob: Like most photographers, it’s been a gradual journey. You initially think you pigeon hole yourself as a landscape photographer and then then you start looking for something that is your voice. What it actually stretches back to is my childhood and growing up in the industrial Midlands. I was remembering things like the coal mines, the dark oppressive nature and the industry in the Midlands. I’ve lived in Sheffield years ago whilst at University and have come back now. I’ve always gravitated to cities that have a traditional industry and culture, it’s part of the heritage of our country. Which is why I find the North East fascinating………. It’s probably the largest concentration of heavy industry in the country and a real view on when Britain was an industrial powerhouse. Of course it’s being eroded away now, the world changes although the heritage, architecture and impact on the landscape will live on as will the communities although there will of course be struggles.