Bathroom Darkroom – an invitation to collaborate

May 2017
A Domestic ExchangevicsquareBDseries2

What does it mean to be invited into someone else’s domain, not as a social guest but as a curious investigator and maker? Two local photographers in Manchester, Rachel Burns and Lydia Marley have opened up a dialogue to explore the idea further, by turning their home into a residency space and their bathroom into a darkroom.

Both photographers live in shared accommodation in South Manchester, in a typical large house usually occupied by students or recent young graduates. Interested in the current economic climate where large shared rented living is seen as a necessity rather than a choice, Rachel and Lydia invited a host of local photographers in to their domestic space to respond to the dynamics and styles of shared living.

Many Hands Craft Collective, an Over60s crafts group based at Victoria Square Housing in Ancoats, are my current and on-going photography collaborators. Together we are questioning the role of photography as a collaborative tool and how we work together to expose the process behind our collective work. The group themselves are formed mostly of Victoria Square residents, a 200 year old social housing building made up of as many flats as it’s grand age. This Victorian building represents a very different demographic of the Manchester community, but similarly live within this notion of the shared rent based property market.

It seemed a perfect opportunity to merge the two domestic spaces and indeed residents – and so the residency took place with a number of the Many Hands Crafts Collective group creating imagery, through film photography and pinhole camera’s, in response to their new surroundings.

vicsquareBDseries5Day 1 saw the group co-create the work within the house, bringing some of their own domestic props or responding instinctively to objects already within the space. We also tried out a number of pinhole cameras so that the group could see the darkroom process in action on the same day. Then Day 2 was spent printing the images captured the day before – a day working in silo due to the scale of the pop up darkroom.

The images created so far reflect a sense of the nostalgic we can’t seem to escape from when exploring the domestic, but also with Many Hands Craft Collective, a particular sense of humour and playful curiosity that undoubtedly shines through as their very conscious “style” of self representation. The wider group were then invited to work through all the contact sheets created, working through a collective editing process for final images and prints for final exhibition and showcasing. vicsquareBDseries4

Some of the imagery captured over the two days have remained strong topics of conversation for the wider group –  and will possibly find themselves into the final body of work we are collaboratively creating for an exhibition/ showcase in the new year.

 

 

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