ADVENTurous is an open submission exhibition exploring the christmas narrative, which we're staging in 3 UK venues during advent this year : at Engedi in Colwyn Bay, Leftbank in Leeds and the Union Chapel in Islington, London.

The work exhibited at Union Chapel will also be part of the one-day ‘ADVENTurous' conference, hosted by Greenbelt Festival and partners.

On this blog we'll be posting regular updates about how plans for the Leftbank Leeds show are progressing, with information about the contributing artists, and possibly some previews of the work being created for the exhibition...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

introducing... Steve Broadway

Leftbank: Hi Steve, thanks for speaking with us... just to begin with, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Steve: I’m pretty old. I retired last summer after a career in architecture (I ran my own successful practice in Buckinghamshire for nearly 30 years) and a subsequent six years working in a comprehensive school (as an assistant House Head – frequently working with “bad kids” and their parents… who were often “bad” too!). I’ve been married to Moira for nearly 40 years and we have three married daughters and six grandchildren.
We’ve lived in Bristol for the past 9 years and retirement has given me the opportunity to do much more photography, drawing and painting (as well as lots more time to look after grandchildren!).
As far as my faith is concerned, I’d probably classify myself as a “struggling Christian” – but I’m also someone who continues to be fascinated and intrigued by the spiritual journey through life.
I’ve recently spent two months on the beautiful, tiny island of Iona – undertaking voluntary work with the Iona Community. It proved to be a memorable and rewarding experience.

LB: you've just started up a little online project with your 'one day like this' blog, where you're posting up an image each day...
i'm really enjoying that, and i love the way that your photographs in particular seem to have this optimistic kind of redemptive quality; they seem to be about unearthing unexpected little moments of beauty and elegance in amongst the everyday and the mundane and the urban...
so i'm wondering if that's intentional on your part; and if there's a particular philosophy or mindset that informs your image-making? (or if i'm maybe reading way too much into it?!)

Steve: I feel HUGELY heartened by your sense that my photos have those qualities...

That’s SO brilliant!

That really does sum up (far better than I could ever describe it!) what I’ve been attempting to capture.
But the strange (rather depressing) thing is that, certainly for a couple of photos for my “one day like this” project, I’ve noticed a couple of people staring at me, then staring at my photo subject matter (eg. “shadows” and “red fruit”), then staring back to me with a sense of “why on earth have you bothered to take photos of that?! One of my key contentions is that I’m very aware that, although many of us may look at our surroundings, we often don’t actually see things.
Oddly, I feel that my images for the ADVENTurous project WON’T necessary convey this same sense of optimism (I may be wrong… I’m about to start a week of compiling photographs for the exhibition... and maybe it's partly down to my intention to use mainly black+white pictures?).
At this stage, I haven’t got any particular pictures or approach in mind, but I sense that the images (I hope to use say 40 pics for the final piece) will be a complete mixture of bizarre, uplifting, funny, hopeful and, on occasions, depressing urban photographs… no doubt the latter, in particular, will present me with something of a challenge!

LB: i love that idea of really seeing things rather than just looking, and i'm wondering if that's a skill that architect-ing taught you?

Steve: Well, in some ways, I think that’s probably right… it’s certainly something I’ve felt quite passionately about for a long time. It brings to mind all the school careers evenings I used to attend (when I was running my architectural practice) and the regular advice (almost the ONLY advice?!) I used to pass on to 13 year-olds who saw themselves as budding architects: “it’s important that you learn to observe/see/question because we fail to notice so much… so I suggest that a good way to hone these skills (which I think are important from an architectural perspective) is to get yourself a sketchbook and to draw from life as often as you can” (or words to this effect!).

LB: as a reader of your other blog, i love the way that you go and explore the city on your play days with the grandchildren - i'm wondering if they've influenced the way that you see things?

Steve: I love living in the city (Bristol) and being so close to the water and the bustle of city life. We hardly use the car at all these days and so I find myself walking round/into the city most days… so it’s therefore only natural that my playdays with grandchildren involve a fair amount of walking within the city too. I think WALKING is the key… you literally SEE much more when you’re only travelling at 3 mph and it’s easy to simply stop and look/register/admire. Since we came to live in Bristol, I’m also rarely without my camera – and that, for me, has become my “sketchbook replacement” (although I’ve recently resolved to do MUCH more sketching!).

LB: lastly then, i'm also curious to know if your sojourn on Iona has changed or informed your work?

Steve:I think it’s impossible NOT to be changed by such a beautiful place as Iona. Two quick observations:
a) I was on Iona for 2 months and it’s a TINY island so, inevitably, I found myself walking along the same footpaths and shorelines on a daily basis. Although I passed the same landmarks every day, every day was completely different and I constantly noticed new things (and the colour of the sea/sky seemed to change every 10 minutes!). I recall commenting about a particular (obvious) feature of the shoreline to a fellow housemate and it became clear that she’d never previously noticed it – even though we passed at least twice a day. I found myself taking photographs of the “same” views on a regular basis – and every resulting image was completely different.
b) One of our daughters set me a challenge to produce 40 drawn postcards (and send them off to friends) during my time on the island. It made me realise how little sketching/drawing I’d done over recent years (and how rusty I’d become!). In the event, I found the discipline of making quick (20 minute) drawings very enjoyable and, as a result, have vowed to sketch on a regular basis!