• Andy Whysall

Some inspiration from Futures Week

Updated: Aug 1, 2019

The Photography Dept. had three visiting speakers for Futures Week: Thomas Dukes, from Open Eye, Liverpool; Will Walker from North News, and Arpita Shah an independent practitioner who works out of Edinburgh.


Thomas was interesting on being a modern curator (at a time when many museums are cutting curatorial departments like Tullie House, Carlisle, did and like Leicester and others are planning on) and did me a polite portfolio review. My own detailed experience of curation comes from working in a very traditionally-organised museum, where the few (and then fewer) curators were focussed on the traditional role. That kind of curator is rapidly becoming a thing of the past and the multi-talent will be the way forward, mainly because as staff numbers are reduced, the need for multi-skilling increases. The curatorial experience I had working at the Tullie House Museum in Carlisle really did give me a bug for organising, recording, maintaining collections, and I would do that kind of job again (and feel more qualified academically even though my degree is not in museum studies).


An excellent insight into curating photography can be had from an interview published on the Format website, between curator Tim Clark and Loupe magazine's Harry Flook: http://loupemag.com/?p=2029 . The pair investigate how, in the world predicted by Victor Burgin and Susan Sontag, absolutely saturated with images, curators need to change hats regularly. Harry Flook asks 'Aside from the obvious headache of time management, what's it like having to constantly switch gears between being an educator, writer, editor and curator?'. Read it to find out.


Arpita Shah from Dear green place (2012)


I found Arpita Shah very engaging. She flagged up opportunities such as residencies and commissioning, underlining the need to keep fingers on the pulse...watch possible outlets for advertised opportunities. Like Thomas Dukes, Arpita is doing that by being multi-strung, describing herself as a ‘visual artist and community facilitator’. She chooses to work on film because it is kinder to people than digital, and despite her using portrait orientation her work has a distinct filmic look, so much so that I find I want the images to move.


Will Walker brought a stack of gear with him, but had so much to say that he didn't get round to talking us through it. Things are rather different to the days when I used to work with press photographers. All his lighting and uploading gizmos and laptop added to his burden. The upside these days is that the big, wide-range, zoom lenses for digital cameras save a lot of gear-clutter compared to the old days.

All images and text ©Andy Whysall Photography 2020