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surfers in the sea

Whilst We Wait

Curated by Alex Groom

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  • WestBeach Restaurant, Pier Approach, Bournemouth
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  • TheGallery

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Off-Site Art Programme at WestBeach

WestBeach Restaurant, Pier Approach, Bournemouth

WestBeach is delighted to be hosting TheGallery’s off-site art programme which features the work of BA (Hons) Photography student, Alex Groom from Arts University Bournemouth.

Through photographic techniques, Alex investigates this intimate relationship, between humanity and the natural world. Alex’s aim is to specifically visualise man’s insignificance within the mass of the landscape, through their activities of recreation and leisure.

The desire to seek refuge within the natural environment, echo’s notions from our primitive instincts. Since the industrialisation of the UK, Human beings have retreated to the natural landscape for recreation, leisure, personal pleasure and enjoyment, a means of escaping urban life.

This photographic series was inspired by Alex’s passion for the natural landscape. The feeling of being immersed within a natural setting has both calming and meditative qualities. Through the process of documenting such landscapes, Alex wants to represent the land in a way which emphasises these effects. Highlighting the sheer mass of the photographed landscapes with aiming to present to the viewer a true perspective of experience within these natural settings.

Off-site Art Programme at WestBeach

TheGallery delivers an exciting portfolio of exhibitions and commissioned projects. As part of this programme, WestBeach showcases the work of staff, students and graduates from AUB, building upon the creative collaboration and networking with the Arts University Bournemouth and external venues.

The partnership between TheGallery, AUB and WestBeach is vital to push the Arts further in the area, encouraging new visitor markets and attracting additional cultural industries to Bournemouth.

WestBeach has been working with TheGallery since the inaugural Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival in September 2011 and has since participated in showcasing TheGallery’s exhibition programme.

The photograph 'Whilst We Wait' was taken from the vantage point off the pier at Bournemouth beach, during the month of February 2021. The piece captures the calmness of both the seascape environment and the scattered human forms peacefully waiting for their next swell. The image brings our attention to the relationship that humans have with our natural surroundings, specifically the ways in which we interact within the natural landscape through activities of recreation and leisure.

Through the process of documenting man’s relationship with the natural environment. Alex was able to study the art of photographing the sheer size of the landscape we occupy, as well the true behavioural qualities that are performed by the human activity. In doing so Alex discovered how insignificant the human form is when immersed within a landscape environment.

The piece 'Whilst We Wait', perfectly captures this. The interaction between man and the landscape is represented through the activity of surfing. The scattered surfers appear like tiny ant forms against the blue seascape canvas, bringing our attention to insignificance of man when surrounded by such a vast landscape.

The piece portrays the stillness of the surfers, just waiting. Floating peacefully in the sea, waiting patiently for the next swell of waves. It promotes calming qualities onto the viewer. The cool blue colour tones dominating the image, alongside this peaceful human interaction promotes these calming effects of the waiting of the waves.

“Having photographically documented these landscapes I had discovered a relationship in which both man and the land are in complete balance and harmony. This is in direct contrast to the context of some landscape imagery within contemporary practices, predominately addressing environmental concern and humanity’s destructive impact upon it.

It was effective to represent the relationship between man and the landscape in a way which the size of the landscape dominates the presence of man. This was of great significance to me as it was in complete contrast to humanity’s destructive relationship it shares with the natural world. I instead found a means of representing natures overriding dominance it will always have over humanity, emphasising the insignificance of the human figure in such landscapes.

After obtaining my documented photographs, I had discovered a resemblance between my work and the works of photographers such as Simon Roberts and Massimo Vitali. Both photographers explore similar processes and techniques to document the landscape Simon Roberts “We English” brought my attention to the behavioural qualities of man interacting within the English landscape, Roberts here captures the activities of recreation and leisure that are performed by society within the landscape. Roberts also photographs man within the landscape either from a faraway distance, or from a high vantage point, this is a process which I had also explored, I realised that this method of photography and the consideration of perspective enabled me to emphasise the minuscule size of man, and to promote the sense of an everlasting landscape.

Massimo Vitali is a photographer that explores similar methods of documenting the landscape, specifically that of a seaside environment. Massimo Vitali brought my attention to the importance of composition when photographing man within the landscape. Specifically his image, “Force del Serchio Couples, 2020”.

Where the positioning of the human figures in the photograph are perfectly organised. Here, I discovered the attention to framing and composition that must be given when photographing the interactions of man within the landscape. By focusing on this I was able to create a visual balance within my images. Photographing the moment where the positioning and activity of man offered the most intriguing and unified expression.

When reflecting upon my own work, this made me question whether or not my photographs were landscape images or portrait images, I discovered that the primary subject within my images was in fact the tiny human figures. This was because the decisive moment was dictated by the particular behaviours, interactions and positioning of the human forms within the landscape.”

BA (Hons) Photography at AUB allows you to engage with photography in a variety of contexts, responding to the expansive nature of contemporary photographic practice. You will mix theory and research with practical work to get a rounded view of photography and its place in culture. Some of the world’s leading photographers such as Nick Knight and Wolfgang Tillmans started their careers on this leading photographic course.

Their influence on contemporary culture is one of the things you’ll study on this fascinating and creative course. We believe it’s vital you learn to express your individual creativity to achieve your personal ambitions. We encourage you to be open-minded about the possibilities of the expanding field of photography.

TheGallery works with courses and students from right across the university on a variety of exhibitions, events and projects. 'Whilst We Wait' is another example of one of these projects that we have worked on with Alex Groom, a 3rd Year student, BA (Hons) Photography. When working on a collaborative project we provide advice and support for the curatorial and technical aspects of the exhibition, as well as advice on event and project management.

TheGallery provides a national and international public platform for the arts within the sub-region as we promote the University’s shared passion for excellence in education, industry and the sector.

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