The success of this years APHE summer conference entitled Meshworks was firmly in the hands of our joint hosts Plymouth University and Plymouth College of Art. The organising committee and the executive were delighted to receive so many supportive emails and messages, so if you could not make the South Coast this year then perhaps the John’s quote may entice you next year.
“Thanks for the Meshworks conference. Some inspirational speakers and ideas. And it was, of course, good to meet with everyone again and to catch up over the three days.” John Hillman
Speakers and contributors.
We began on Wednesday with a discussion by Sian Davey on the development of her current practice, the evening concluded with a visit to the MA interim show introduced by Jem Southam. The opening address on Thursday by our Chair, Jonathan Shaw set a positive, dynamic and open minded tone, this was continued by Tim Gundry who discussed the initiatives and innovation regarding the benefits of creativity at all levels of education in place at PCA. Our first Keynote Professor Liz Wells presented in-depth knowledge and experience, clearly setting out challenges ahead. Peter Smith and David McMahon gave papers on their research and Andy Golding on behalf of the RPS sought increased collaboration with photography in Higher Education. NEPN’s Dr Carol McKay and Professor Arabella Plouviez gave a brilliant talk on working with artists, communities and students as part of a wider cultural community whilst keeping links with the University. Heidi Morstang and Dr Simon Ingram discussing their findings from a teaching fellowship in an interdisciplinary, collaborative, and experiential learning project for BA (Hons) Photography and BA (Hons) Marine conservation students.
Once again the atmosphere was electric and only in its second year it has established as an international partnership with Society of Photographic Educators, America (see separate post). The winner will receive £1000 travel and accommodation support to present at their national photography conference in Orlando. It was great to get such a range of insights into the practical aspects of course content and approach to the changing state of expectation, both from institutions and from student cohort. The 5 shortlisted presentations energised the audience, and a voting system brought an enjoyable informality to the proceedings, the sense of triumph was clearly visible on the face of this year’s winner Dr Liam Devlin from Huddersfield University. It is also important to thank Lynne Connolly, Monika Fischbein, David Lockwood, and Linda Marchant for such wonderful and empowering student focussed presentations.
We finished Thursday with a visit to Tim Pearse’s studio for a wet plate Collodion portrait session, all of us present were like kids in a sweetshop, it was brilliant. Finally, and as is our tradition, it was the conference meal, by boat from the Mayflower steps to the Royal William Yard and the restaurant Le Bistrot Pierre, great food and of course, great company!
Friday morning began with energy and alternative models of education, we began with the School of Punktum, Ed Thompson and Lewis Bush bringing a DIY approach of what it takes to get things done from the perspective of both the organisers and the students involved. Jesse Alexander and David Wyatt from Open College of the Arts discussed online learning and the value of face to face contact with distance learners. Our Second Keynote, Michael Mack spoke with eloquence about the books he has published, 1000 in 17 years, on a personal note, the narrative surrounding publishing Paul Grahams later works was really insightful, his experiences and viewpoints on digital and self-publishing, clearly indicating the reasons, the integrity and quality of the publications has been so impressive up to now and that this certainly will continue. The closing keynote by the truly inspirational Shahidul Alam who talked wonderfully about Drik photo agency and Pathshala the South Asian Media Institute, all present were enthralled by the narrative, the determination, intelligence and compassion of Shahidul and his fellow colleagues, what an absolute treat….
An increasingly engaged community.
As with all our conferences, the chance to discuss our successes and challenges ahead is always one of the most referred to positives, these events undoubtedly bring us all closer together, engender a sense of community and mutual support and encouragement.
Partnership between institutions:
This is the second year on the run that the conference has been presented as an institutional collaboration, the partnership between University of Plymouth and Plymouth College of Art, was extremely effective, the organisational skill and ceaseless energy of the team, Simon, Oli, Monika and Tim continues to suggest that partnership is an exemplar for future conferences.
Interested in hosting a gathering or the summer conference?
We would be really keen to hear from our members with offers to host a future event. The November and January gatherings are designed to run on a Wednesday afternoon and provide an informal opportunity to celebrate the vitality of photography from a regional perspective. For those brave souls who are keen to tackle the more substantial summer conference, we are able to offer a clear template to support you. In particular, we would love to run next year’s conference once more as a collaborative effort, with other educational establishments, or maybe with galleries, or organisations depending on your location and partnerships.
The pressure on funding…
We appreciate that receiving funding for attendance at APHE events isn’t always easy. So we are consciously working to raise the visibility of the Association’s work. This year we have engaged with our mission across a range of platforms, recording the talks, interviewing speakers, as well as running a Twitter back channel creating over half a million impressions. The timeline for this year’s conference was designed to offer a greater chance for you to engage with the conference on a range of levels, whether it be presenting a full paper, a lightning talk, a Pecha Kucha style presentation, or to simply join in the discussions. All of these give us a chance to return to our institutions with clearly defined outcomes. Key factors to any funded activity now at the majority of member institutions. We will over the summer period be making the materials delivered at conference available online via our website.
Lastly – A huge Thank you to Judy Harrison, who completed her term as treasurer this year, Judy has been an invaluable and integral part of APHE, during this time, and leaves the association in excellent shape and in the very capable hands of Andrew Robinson our new Treasurer.
Again, please drop us a line at email@example.com in the first instance.
Hope you all had a great summer and many thanks for making this a very enjoyable second year in term!
Richard, Jonathan, Linda, Judy and Andrew.