Photo North Festival – Harrogate International Centre
Steve Whitaker, Literary Correspondent
Photo North will play host to the first large-scale photography festival at Harrogate International Centre next weekend. Unique in conception, eclectic in theme and dynamic in approach it is expected that the festival will attract 5000 visitors over the three-day event.
The sheer diversity of the weekend’s programme is a testament to Photo North’s enthusiasm and graft as Sharon Price, the festival’s director, explains:
“We’ve put our heart and soul into curating unique takes on three clear themes of music, war and marginalisation to make internationally-renowned photographic art fun, exciting and accessible to all, as well as highlighting topical issues. We’re hoping people take the time to come and experience some brand new, unpretentious creative projects. It’s not formal, intimidating or academic, just the best stuff in the one place.”
Widening its remit to include film, live music and hands-on professional workshops alongside startlingly original and cutting-edge photography, the Olympus-sponsored festival’s aim is kaleidoscopic:
The deeply human vivacity of Sony award-winning photographer Tom Oldham’s ‘Last of the Crooners’ will contrast sharply with northern social documentarian Tish Murtha’s profound depictions of youth unemployment.
The highly original musical line-up will include the 12 year old break-through acoustic artist Poppy Eaglesham and local pianist (and beekeeper!) Karen Singleton. In a novel departure, co-founder of the Global Underground movement Dean Belcher’s ‘My First Vinyl’, will incorporate his vintage record player serenading sitters who attend his 45 minute portrait salons with the first ever vinyl record they bought.
In a groundbreaking project, Imperial War Museum curator, Hilary Roberts, and Anne McNeill of Bradford’s Impressions Gallery, consulted artists dedicated to commemorating the centenary of the First World War through the pictures of women photographers of the Front Line; their previously unseen work will feature in a timely festival exhibition. Tom Stoddart’s haunting and poignant reportage, ‘Shadows of War’, a video remembering the Armistice, will appear alongside dedicated humanitarian and conflict photo-journalist, Paula Bronstein’s World Press Photography award-winning work on the daily effects of war on Afghan civilians.
Giving society’s under-represented and marginalised a voice, Sleaford Mods, the film which politically-committed actress Maxine Peake has described as a ‘loud and clear exposé about the desperate times we are living in’, has earned a two-hour festival screening each day. Undiscovered documentary photographer John Bolloten’s controversial ‘Nothing to See Here’, portrays two years of homelessness and addiction in Bradford, and complements Tish Murtha’s remarkable images of austerity and the young, which are presented posthumously and rather poignantly here, by her daughter Ella.
Photo North Festival promises to be the most exciting and engaging new photo exhibition in the UK.
Photo North Festival
9th to 11th November - at Harrogate International Centre
Photo North Festival – Harrogate International Centre, 5th November 2018, 10:20 AM