Dissecting a space, Words by Alan Whitfield

The spaces pull,
Under my skin.
No surface itches,
Drawn to the light.

Inside the whale,
Shafts of white.

A nasal breech,
stale bleach,
Industrial fridge murder.

Christmas rush hush,
long gone.
Blaming lame public,
Purchase pessimism.

And you will stay no more,
No carpet floor.
A black corner.
No longer warm.


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Alan Whitfield, Risk, Sale Arts Centre 2013




Please go and see my exhibition if you are over at Sale in Manchester

I grew up in an industrial northern town. In the 1980s the industry left…

British industry underwent a period of turbulent change during the 1980s

as a result of new government policies.  The Thatcher administration then

advanced the concept of ‘The Industrial Estate’, which became an out

of town regeneration scheme that every town wanted.

As an island, there is only so much small industry our infrastructure can support.

Often when an area receives European funding, it is designated as an

inhabitable Brownfield Site renovation scheme. Such official terminology

can be perceived as disingenuous and becomes a metaphor for deprivation.

I aim to document the junctions and roads of the areas where the jobs never came.


So what have i been up too

I’m off to Sicily this time next week. I’m pretty nervous for me (see i do admit it). Having major issues with my bag so i can get my cameras laptop and peco projector.  Add to fact that going away makes me feel sick. I’m doing well. _MG_8635This is an image I’m working on as part of Focus in Sale Manchester at the Riverside Arts Gallery. Which will end in exhibition later this year. I’m not saying on what though.

Viva Arriva (Part 2) A poem by Alan Whitfield

English: An Arriva Wales train approaching fro...
English: An Arriva Wales train approaching from the Holyhead direction (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like to write on the trains even more so with the wonderful line arriva put on for our well-being. The train line runs from Manchester to Holyhead. It has captured my imagination on many occasions


Over the glasses you, know the type.
Thick set, yes you bet.
Strong view.
Dis-spite been mail led.
Express to impress.
Alluding to depress.
Still watching.
Tie tight, toe shine, bright man.
Scorning face, forming.
The vote box nation warning.
View forming, word watching.
You see him think, furrowed.
I don’t like you, I dislike that, get back

Or maybe I’m wrong…


A poem: The Unexpected gallery

A poem Todays experience: The Unexpected gallery

The unexpected Gallery

The curiosity is turned on,
Without faltering step,
I stride.
admire on entry.
A visual vacuum before me
in… connected

what is before me
HIV positive,
printed on fabric,
shouting loud.
yes my conscious
like a 1985 ventilate

The eyes they talk to me.
In a corridor of black
printed words confuses

A great pretender
by a real intender

Where is Hereford, got to see John Bulmer…

On Wednesday I go via my favorite form of public Transport (the Train) to Hereford. Now other than cows and a late goal by Ronnie Radford in the 1972 FA Cup at Home to Newcastle. I know little of the place. I have missed The Hereford Photographic exhibition over the past few years as I have been at Paris Photo. On seeing that John Bulmer was one of the attractions this year I decided to drag my grumpy soul to see his work in the flesh. I have looked at his body of work in Manchester.

Robert Adams writes in Why people Photograph ” At our best and most Fortunate we make pictures because of what stands in front of the Camera, to honor what is more greater or interesting than we are. We never accomplish this perfectly though in return we are given something perfect- a sense of inclusion. Our subject thus redefines us and is part of the biography by which we want to be known”.

John Bulmer he was around the same time as Don McCullin. He was famed for his colour slide work a pioneer of that time for using the medium of colour. If the newspapers need something document they would either get Bulmer or McCullin. John Bulmer really catches the change in Brittain with many areas still pulling them self from the legacy of the second world war.

Despite the bleakness of this image I still feel it has a positive direction to it. The man in the image we do not where he is going or has been. The mist that shrouds the image. The large empty space the gentleman walks through could be the same route he has taken to a family’s house or work for years. Refusing to use the modern modes of transport. However it touches on a post apocalyptic feel

Changing the image to black and white alters the feel and the impact the photo posses. It seem to flatten the picture with less impact

This maybe the other direction on the same street as the previous image. We feel the pub is the only business that can survive in the area. the Broadway sign on the pub makes draws on the importance of the name of the theatre area in New York. This the Northern Broadway where the pub is the pivot point of society. The Cobbled streets show use detail of the age of the area and a possible clue as to why the homes have been removed due to the old age. The street with the two young boys in leads you in to the mist and the unknown of the what lies ahead. With prospects not being clear for the future of the area.

So much information in this picture. I see it first as being a metaphor of empty space. The old man is detached from the area he is on he is no longer connected to any of the signs in the image. At one time he may have been a jeweller. The number makes you think of age and at 21 the old man may have been involved with sport. The way his foot is raised it make me think that he could have been a footballer. Maybe the football image comes from the fact we only its location on hand as Manchester to deal with.  The way the foot point at the entrance makes you intrigued at to what is going on outside of the composition on the image. the old man being dressed in gray sat on the bin is a negative slant of the image. Although the sign age dated with modern-day standards this was probably a well to do area. although we do depict it as being on the edge of city industrial area.

This image again I see as depicting an empty space that all the young people have to live off and express themselves with in the area is given before us in the image. The blue and white image makes you think you are in area close to the Manchester city ground. The images take on the modern feel of lowery’s work

The similarities of the picture are uncanny.  The people have almost the same stance

John Bulmer use of space to capture economic isolation in his series of images in Manchester is a powerful Body of work. I have found them really empowering to look. It makes me feel that what I’m doing is right. As I commented his use of colour slide film adds a real grit to the work. Almost like these are the real colours off life and it was that grim. Excellent document of a forgotten less complicated period in time.

The Robert Adams quote shows that Bulmer without displaying his local Knowledge has a connection to the area. Maybe as a child the matched identical street where faceless to him. Now he sees it being of interest to the masses

I look forward to seeing his work

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Filling My Empty Spaces!

Onward we Stride…
If you wasnt excited you will be after reading this

Well the process was almost complete after nearly 6 months. I was drawing in for the kill the final selection of images. This project has taken me on a journey to many places In North Wales and Cheshire. The ideas of the start are still in place but have along the way changed drastically. Back to the original vision I had in St Peters Square in Rome of these space hold something dear to me, It’s now refined to doors and lack of people. There has been some interesting choices to make?

The first major one for me was to go Black & White, I feel this added power to the images. I also felt the colour was distracting from the message of the tranquillity in the scene. After cutting the work down from 60 images at my mid-term review to the 15. All the portrait images and outdoor shots were removed as myself  thought that this broke the natural flow of the images I planned to work with. There was something still missing. There was two images that didn’t fit for me.

The image of the school and the image of  B&B. I’m a strong believer if it’s not happening no matter how much you love an image bin it. I see flow as much more important than content. If that makes sense. While I really like the two images above they just didn’t fit in. The school image has also been used in the book I produced.  I think I have more than enough quality in other areas to sacrifice this shot. So I was now down to 13 images plus the shot of the B&B room I had all ready printed. I still felt I was missing something to cap it off. To really draw the body of work to a close, personally for me. I had completely forgotten the 3 rolls 120 E6 I had shot in Manchester. So I packaged them up and sent them off to Peak image in Sheffield. The week-long wait was then on. Did this have the image to dot the eyes and cross the t’s.

The package arrived, in the digital age I always feel a slight twinge with my process in using film. Have I pulled the right switches and pressed the right buttons? Slowly I opened the little packet that I had received from Peak. Quickly looked at the black and white 35mm they where all good. The 120 sprang into life with the shafts of out-door sunlight coming into my room. Vivid colours well composed all outdoors which wasn’t using! Then towards the end of the film. There its was the belly of the shark, the light at the end of the tunnel. It was the over pass at Manchester Deans gate station. I just knew this was the image I had to use to knot and fold all the loose ends.

So I now had 14 images that I feel speak for them self (plus the one already printed). The original Image I had done looks good but was low on contrast . so I was mindful of this by putting it through the raw converter. In the end I used the light room program to make the image more punchy. I felt this gave them a more true black. The main thing is the photos all feature a natural light source. This strangely for me gives it a rather biblical feel. At first I was a little unnerved by this but this whole thing did start in St Peters square in Rome. So I see it as coming full circle maybe even completing the journey (for Know)?

My exhibition runs from 15/5/11 until 30/5/11 in Collinge Antiques in Llandudno Junction