Thursday, 24 September 2009

Interview with Ellie Davies

(from "I Always Knew You'd Come Back...") © Ellie Davies

Ellie Davies is exhibiting work alongside others from the Latitude Group at The East End Arts Club from 1st-15th October.

“I Always knew you’d come back…” is produced in response to the relationship between cinema and photography. Ellie agreed to answer a few questions about the show.

(from "I Always Knew You'd Come Back...") © Ellie Davies

Michael Duggleby: Your work is about to be exhibited at the East End Arts Club as part of an exhibition entitled “I always knew you’d come back…”. I’ve read that the exhibition investigates the notion of the cinematic cliché. Could you explain a little about this idea?

Ellie Davies: The notion of cinematic cliché refers to way that a viewer brings to the film viewing experience a set of culturally inscribed understands about the likely structure, progress and content of that film. We may expect a romantic film to have a beginning, middle and conclusion, and we have expectations about the way the narrative is likely to progress. These assumptions are based on cliché, a repeating of narrative patterns within the genre we assume the film to fit into.

“I Always knew You'd Come Back…” comments on the notion of cinematic cliché by asking the viewer to choose images from the 42 images available, and to arrange them on the wall in order to construct their own narratives. These stories are recorded and have since been incorporated into a book, which juxtaposes sequences of images alongside the narratives that were drawn from them by members of the public.

These narratives can be seen to follow structures that draw on, and reflect an understanding of culturally specific storytelling patterns, and the overarching influence of cinematic cliché on the way each person approaches this task.

The show at the East End Arts Club is a Latitude Photographers Exhibition, a photographic group of which I am a member. We established the group in early 2008, and are all alumni from the London College of Communication MA Photography course. We meet and exhibit together regularly.

(from "I Always Knew You'd Come Back...") © Ellie Davies

MD: How have you found working as part of a group? Do you tackle a brief any differently knowing your work forms part of a collective response?

ED: From its inception Latitude has felt that it is important to use our group work as an opportunity to push ourselves beyond the comfort zone of our personal practices. An important element in doing this is to develop a strong curatorial brief for each show.

The group members work together to develop this brief, but responses to it will be individual (and may indeed reflect personal practices to a greater or lesser degree). Through a period of months group members present ideas, and then images to the group in the format of a group crit. Ideas are developed and enriched, areas needing further attention are drawn out and explored. It is a very productive and challenging process.

This is slightly different from my personal practice, in which the act of shooting the work and developing it into a series can be a slightly more organic process, each image leading into the formulation of the next in an ongoing process of learning and development. Working to a group brief requires a pinning down of the specifics of the images earlier on.

Latitude is a very constructive forum for developing and showing work as a group, but this is only part of its agenda. Personal work is of equal importance, so new personal work is regularly explored through group crits in a similar way, and this ongoing process of presenting new work and receiving feedback becomes an important part of personal practice that many artists may find lacking when they leave art school. The group provides a supportive and critical structure from which to work.

(from "I Always Knew You'd Come Back...") © Ellie Davies

MD: What about the longevity of Latitude? Would you say the members regard the group as a short term vehicle or do you predict you’ll be exhibiting together in the years to come?

ED: I think we all see Latitude as something that we'd like to be part of for the foreseeable future.

This is reflected in the way that we have worked to develop a smooth running structure and system of working. Distinct roles have been allocated to individual members within the group, and our time together is carefully divided to allow us to deal with admin as quickly as possible and get on with the real reason we are all involved with the group; to show new work, develop new work, push ourselves critically and practically, and to give each other feedback and support. This is very much an ongoing process, new challenges arise all the time, but it is a valuable learning experience at the same time. We definitely foresee a long-term future for Latitude Photographers.

(from "I Always Knew You'd Come Back...") © Ellie Davies

Ellie Davies Graduated from London College of Communication in 2008 with MA Photography

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