Speaking at Bees In A Tin

Summary: I’m talking at Bees In A Tin on Friday 21st Feb.

Since running the walks in November I have been notably silent about them. I think they were a success, though many lessons were also learned, but the process of dealing with all the stuff that came from them and putting it into some kind of coherent form has been daunting me. But I want to do it. No, I have to do it as part of the Arts Council funding I received. And now I have a platform and a deadline to work to.

Many & Varied is a group/organisation/platform founded by Nikki Pugh who has played a huge role in my understanding and practice of Art over the last half decade. One of the things M&V run is Bees In A Tin, a gathering of folk “who make or are interested in unique interfaces for the world around them”. They put out a call for submissions last year and I put forward my photo walks.

Pete regularly takes groups of people on photography walks through Birmingham – mostly Digbeth, but also other areas. Using photography as a framework his practice invites people to slow down and develop a new appreciation of their environment which he hopes they then carry through to their everyday lives. Pete offers his findings from his research.

I wasn’t sure if I was bending the criteria bit here but the walks are an interface of sorts. I enforce certain rules - walk very slowly, think through the camera - and the Arts Council funded walks added new constraints through the use of sound. But what convinced me was remembering some of the earliest feedback I received for a walk:

“Your tours have now made me unable to walk at ignorant speed. Looking at detail is slowing me down, but bringing me joy!” - Fran

A number of people have told me that, after doing one of my walks, their regular journeys to work, taken hundreds of times a year, suddenly seemed fresh. I had inadvertently reprogrammed their perceptions. This method of walking, therefore, was definitely an interface for the world.

My pitch was accepted and so I’ll be presenting for half an hour at 2pm on Feb 21st. I’m not sure how I’ll be presenting - I may talk for 30 minutes, I may ask questions of my peers, I may take everyone outside for a mini walk. I don’t know yet. But it will form the ultimate deadline for this period of research and development.

Following this I’ll be revising and relaunching the Photo Walks through Photo School itself. My intention is to keep them simple and accessible but to use them as a platform for experimenting, throwing in ideas and exercises without turning them into Capital-A Art Events. I’ll discuss the challenges of doing this at Bees.

Tickets for Bees In A Tin are a token £4.50 for the whole day which includes a keynote/performance by the wonderful Sarah Angliss. It’s a Friday daytime so people who work evenings and weekends can attend, though this does mean those with weekday jobs are at a disadvantage. I will record my bit though and make it available on this site.