Gemma-Rose Turnbull: Socially Engaged Practice

Gemma Rose Turnbull has recently joined the team on the Coventry University BA (Hons) Photography course.  As an introduction to her practice, here Gemma talks about the development of her work as socially engaged practice.  Gemma has worked with a number of different organisations to promote and develop the idea of working collaboratively, having worked with children, the elderly, street-based sex workers and archives.


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To find out more about Gemma, head on over to the CU Photography website and follow the links.

Sian Macfarlane talks archives and personal practice

West Midlands-based artist Sian McFarlane joined us recently to talk about her work in relation to her responses to personal and community archives. She discussed the way in which she blends stills, moving image and sound within her work to explore the relationship between memory, people and places.

Sian talked about her projects – ‘We will meet sooner than two mountains’ which was a two screen HD projection and shown as a part of her London College of Communication MA show in 2013, and also her most recent project ‘We are illuminated’ which was shown at the New Art Gallery Walsall between May and July this year.


The way in which she works with people and communities has been a great insight for the students who are now embarking on developing their own project proposals for their Coventry-based site specific task.  Sian will be working closely with the students to help them develop their work.


Suggested reading

Wylie, J. (2007) Landscape Routeledge: London

Freud, S. (1908) The Uncanny Penguin: London


Jason Tilley discusses ‘Imagine Hillfields’

Coventry-born Jason Tilley joined the 2nd year students on Friday to discuss his recent Arts council-funded project ‘Imagine Hillfields’. The project, in association with the University of Warwick, is part of a national project looking at the ways society imagines its present and future.

This project involved Jason researching the archives of John Blakemore, Richard Sadler and Masterji all of whom have photographed the Hillfields area of Coventry at different times.  After discovering some hidden gems in the archives Jason responded to the work of John Blakemore with a series of images of the people and places in Hillfields taken over the last year.


Artist and Curator Sunil Shah discusses his practice

Artist and Curator Sunil Shah discusses his practice as an artist and practice as a freelance curator.


Sunil Shah Talk Here

In reference to his practice – Suggested readings

The Contest of Meaning: Critical Histories of Photography, Richard Bolton, MIT Press, 1992.

The Burden of Representation: Essays on Photographies and Histories, John Tagg. University of Minnesota Press, 1993.

Thinking Photography, Victor Burgin, Palgrave Macmillan, 1982.

The Spoken Image: Photography and Language, Clive Scott, Reaktion Books, 1999.

The Return of the Real, Art and Theory at the End of the Century, Hal Foster, MIT Press, 1996.

The Pivot of the World, Photography and its Nation, Blake Stimson, MIT Press, 2006.

Family Snaps, The Meanings of Domestic Photography, Jo Spence and Patricia Holland, Virago Press Ltd, 2000.

Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space, Brain O’Doherty, Univ.of California Press, 2000.

Aesthetic Journalism: How to Inform without Informing, Alfredo Cramerotti, Intellect, 2010.

Documentary Now!: Contemporary Strategies in Photography, Film and the Visual Arts, NAi Publishers, 2005.

The Civil Contract of Photography, Ariella Azoulay, Zone Books, 2008.


In, Around and Afterthoughts, (on Documentary Photography), Martha Rosler, 1991.

Dismantling Modernism, Reinventing Documentary, Allan Sekula, 1978.

Artist Jason Scott Tilley discusses his body of work “People of India”

Artist Jason Scott Tilley, who has been artist in residence at Coventry University, discusses his body of work “The people of India” currently showing at the Herbert Gallery in Coventry.

Cited influences: Edward Curtis, Irving Penn & August Sander

Suggested reading: Pinney C. (1997) Camera Indica, Chicago


Artist Anthony Luvera discusses his latest body of work “Assembly”

Anthony Luvera is an Australian artist, writer and educator based in London. His photographic work has been exhibited widely in galleries, public spaces and festivals including the British Museum, London Underground’s Art on the Underground, National Portrait Gallery London, Belfast Exposed Photography, Australian Centre for Photography, PhotoIreland and Les Rencontres D’Arles Photographie. His writing appears regularly in a wide range of periodicals and peer-reviewed journals including Photoworks, Hot Shoe Source and Photographies. Anthony is Course Director of the BA (Hons) Photography programme at Coventry University. He previously lectured on under-graduate and post-graduate degree courses for a number of institutions, including Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London College of Communication, University for the Creative Arts Farnham and University College Falmouth. He also facilitates workshops and gives lectures for the public education programmes of the National Portrait Gallery, The Photographers’ Gallery, Barbican Art Gallery and community photography projects across the UK. Since 2002 he has worked on a series of long-term photographic projects with people in cities and towns across the United Kingdom through which he builds upon his interests in exploring the tension between authorship (or artistic control) and participation, pedagogy as an artistic practice, and the ethics involved in representing other people’s lives.


Anthony Luvera Talk Here  

Session overview

In this session Luvera discusses his relationship to his latest body of site specific work “Assembly”, currently on exhibition in Brighton as part of the 2014 photo fringe, specifically in relation to informed consent and sound.

Suggested readings

Foster,  H (2001) ‘The Artist as Ethnographer’, in, The Return of the Real, MIT Press

Rosler, M (1981) ‘In, Around and Afterthoughts (On Documentary Photography)’ in Rosler 3 Works, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design Press, Halifax

Sekula, A. (1982) “Dismantling Modernism, Reinventing Documentary Photography Against the Grain, 1984. in Photography Politics One, Comedia

Dr Suncem Kocer discusses the opportunity practice based research offers a media anthropologist

Session overview

Suncem Kocer is a media anthropologist. The specific focus of her research is independent media producers who revolve their media production around identity issues. On the third year of her doctoral studies in the United States, She moved to Istanbul Turkey for 18 months to conduct research for her dissertation. She describes how she was both thrilled to return to her home country, after so many years in the States and keen to also do research with Kurdish filmmakers. She queried how she was going to build relationships with them, whether they would share their perspectives on film production and identity politics with her ?

She was not aware, at this point,that she would become a documentary film producer at the end of her research year. Within the course of 18 months in the field as she posed her research questions to her informants, worked with them, and I ended up sharing their production. Years later today, She is doing research with newsmakers and reporters in Turkey, produces and anchors on national TV shows. Based on these experiences she will discuss the opportunities that practice-based research offers to a media anthropologist as well as the difficulties one may encounter during practice-based research.

Suncem Kocer Talk Here

Suggested reading

Feld, S (2003) Ciné-ethnography. University of Minnesota Press

Ginsburg, F et al. eds. (2002) Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain. University of California Press

“Writing Against Culture” Lila Abu-Lughod



Dr Gemma Commane discusses Engendering Space

How can space be colonised & subverted to perform identity?

Dr Commane raises questions about the construction of space.

Session overview:

The session will explore subcultural clubbing spaces (BDSM, Goth, fetish and performance art clubs) and how gender is negotiated and performed within locations that allow non-normativity to happen. What non-normativity is, how it is ‘preserved’ and protected by the space (door polices, etiquettes and expectations), and how clubbers value both location and identity as ‘sacred,’ will be shown. Conversely, the session will also identify the limitations of subcultural clubbing spaces through the temporality of genderfuck and subversion, the regulation of femininity, the nighttime economy, and mainstream conformity in gender relations. The session will identify that interconnections of space, identity and ‘subversion’ are not straightforward, even in locations where individuals have ‘space’ to express themselves ‘outside’ of the mainstream. Therefore, the session will identify the freedoms and contractions within subcultural clubbing spaces through focusing on gender.

Gemma Commane Talk Here

Suggested reading

Commane, Gemma Ruth (2010) ‘Bad Girls and Dirty Bodies: Performative Histories and Transformative Styles,’ in ‘Queering Paradigms,’ ed. Burkhard Scherer, Peter Lang, 49-64

Hutton, Fiona (2006) Risky Pleasures? Club Cultures and Feminine Identities. Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing Ltd

Wilkins, Amy (2008) ‘So Full of Myself as a Chick’ Goth Women, Sexual independence, and Gender Egalitarianism,’ Gender & Society, 18:3, 328-394