My first session with Parliament Hill School was a visit the Photographers’ Gallery and Getty Images. It was chance to introduce the students to the project and have them two exhibitions they might not go to own their own, only a couple of students had been to the gallery before.
The session started with an introduction to Seeing More Things by Education Organiser, Jai Taylor. Following that I gave a short presentation on my photographic work. The teachers at Parliament Hill had suggested I speak about my how the projects are made, so I focused on a couple of participatory projects, and one looking at the relationship between poetry and photography.
As part of the evaluation of the Seeing More Things, all students fill in a personal meaning map in response to one image. This happens at the beginning, middle and end of the school projects, the aim being to provide a basis to evaluate the development of the students’ visual literacy. The teachers and I chose Skate Girl by Jessica Fulford-Dobson for Parliament Hill.
The students were shown the image on a screen and asked to respond to five prompts: initial reaction, context, subject, composition, form. Without coaching or support, they write whatever words or phrases they like in response. The process also gave me a chance to see their understanding of these key terms.
We then took the students to see the Dalston Anatomy by Lorenzo Vitturi. Vitturi’s work is vibrant, energetic and sculptural, and that was match by the curation of the exhibition. The students had some time to explore the show in groups. Each group were given a question relating to the work, layout. After around 15 minutes, we brought them together to discuss their answers. This sparked a great conversation about why Vitturi used sculpture in the exhibition and whether it made the show more engaging. The students also spoke about how they thought the images has been made and the relationship between Vitturi and his subjects.
After finishing at the Photographers’ Gallery, we took the group to Getty Images to see Glitch. This was a very different exhibition to Vitturi’s. It explored the idea of errors in contemporary photography and glitches in modern technology. The students were asked to fill out a small card that encouraged them to analyse an image of their choice.
We ended the Getty visit with a short discussion of where the ‘errors’ were in a number of the photographers. It was an interesting conversation as many of the students suggested they ‘couldn’t see’ glitches, and more that the images were stylistically different and purposefully not ‘perfect’. Some of the students thought the glitches made the images more appealing.