photo exhibition

Another one of those new year 'reflective' blogs. Soz... by Maria Spadafora

Spark at Light Night Leeds

Spark at Light Night Leeds

So 2017 ended with me turning 48 and trimming my first moustache hair, which inevitably leads to an ‘I did that!’ reflective blog post…

In March the really wonderful Heart, in Headingley, hosted my exhibition ‘Creation’. My photographs of performers and other artists had previously been exhibited at Arts@Trinity in Leeds, so it was an honour to have another opportunity to share this work. I received such lovely comments!

“You capture a feeling with your camera. You capture my imagination with your eyes.
There’s vibrancy in your photos.”
Miriam

I was also privileged to be offered an artist residency with Wakefield Cathedral, and over a period of two months visited the Cathedral’s many spaces, spending time with the people who use them. From volunteers counting donations in the Dean’s Vestry, to toddlers enjoying music in the Education Room, I observed and photographed many of the different activities that take place in this stunning building. I enjoy reacting and documenting things as they happen, whether it’s how the evening light falls on the ancient steps to the bell tower, or the enthusiasm of the weekly tour. It’s a beautiful building, full of history and stories, but it’s the people who keep it alive and vibrant, so I was chuffed to be offered this opportunity and to exhibit the final photos there in July. The exhibition also featured in Wakefield’s ArtWalk.

The biggie for me in 2017 though was The Real Princesses of Yorkshire. I’d been sitting on the idea for this project for a couple of years, and finally plucked up the courage to apply for funding and - to my genuine shock - got it! Thanks to Leeds Inspired and the Arts Council’s Grants for the Arts, I was able to work with 32 people and various locations to create a series of portraits that poke gentle fun at the limitations of fairytale princesses whist celebrating people in all their diversity.  One person commented that it was the best thing they attended that year, adding “It was uniquely subversive whist being completely joyous and welcoming.” I've project managed all sorts of arts and community events over the years, so I know that getting 694 people through the door of an exhibition is a massive achievement, and I am really chuffed with how this project panned out. And I'm hugely grateful for the support I received, including great help and performances at the launch party. Some of these pictures will be making another appearance at Heart next year, alongside some shenanigans for International Women’s Day, so stay tuned!

My recurring theme for 2017 appears to be the splits?! And seeing my Carnival photos on banners dotted about Chapeltown and Harehills was a bit flipping cool. Plus, forgive me, but hilarious drag goddess Katya Zamolodchikova shared my photo on Instagram getting over 71,000 likes - so I’m claiming this as an achievement (it’s a sign of these shallow times!) 

But my photography, a passion I’m still exploring and developing, is a work in progress and does not pay the bills, though it has sat nicely alongside my day job creating and managing opportunities for young people and communities to access the arts. So here’s a self indulgent wish-list for 2018:

1. A new job – I’ve been working with communities and young people for about 20 years. I’ve seen access to arts and education get worse, not better. I don’t think I’ll ever stop fighting for this.

2. Hatch my other eggs – I have more projects, I must make them happen

3. Keep snapping and learning - works on various levels ;)

Finally, I want to say a massive thank you and send love to everyone who’s helped, advised, supported, participated or employed me this year. Photography can be very lonely work, so the collaborations and support I’ve had this year have been enormously valuable.

Ta, ducks, you’ve been real! x

The Real Princesses of Yorkshire by Maria Spadafora

#PrincessRealness

Earlier this year I made some funding applications to develop a project idea that had been knocking about in my head for a while. And, to my surprise, I succeeded. In September, at the ripe old age of 47, the results of my first funded project as an artist will be unleashed. Eeeeeek!

The Real Princesses of Yorkshire is a portrait project that gently challenges the fairy-tale princess as an ideal and role model for women and girls, whilst celebrating some amazing people. I've spent months recruiting participants, coordinating shoots, and climbing over the big, daft dresses that now clutter my home. 

The project has elicited some really interesting responses and discussions, some of which you can read about on a dedicated blog page

As a photographer, it's been an enormous learning experience, and one that continues. From technical stuff such as literally using a flash for the first time (not my favourite thing, I'll be honest) to learning how to pose and direct people, it's taught me a lot. In particular that I have so much more to learn! 

The Real Princesses of Yorkshire exhibition will be open from 11th to 22nd September at Arts@Trinity, Boar Lane, Leeds. And everyone is invited to the Real Princess Ball - a launch party lip-sync extravaganza on Friday 15th September 7-9pm. Book your free tickets via Eventbrite. I hope to see you there! 

 

 

 

 

Making a Show of Myself by Maria Spadafora

Get me, I just had an exhibition (my first!) in the gorgeous surrounds of Arts@Trinity. I've seen some brilliant dance and music there over the years, so felt really chuffed they accepted my proposal to show my work. And it was quite fascinating spending time there, as it still functions as a church alongside it's arts activities. It was eye opening to observe just how many people still use churches as a place of refuge, and I chatted to some really interesting folk.

I decided to focus on showing photographs of 'Creation' - creative people in Leeds, as the city is home and host to so many brilliant artists and venues. So a whole bunch of dancers, musicians, and visual artists found themselves hung on washing lines between the pillars and sat on easels beside the pews. In many ways it was a celebration of the diversity of arts in Leeds, featuring art forms and artists from all over the world, including Mali, Italy, India, Ireland, USA, France, and, of course, the amazing West Indian Carnival - one of our annual highlights. We had a fun celebration evening with performances by SAA-uk Dholis, Zakiya Hussain (Kathak dancer), and interactive shizzle with Yorkshire Life Aquatic and The (Reduced) Bet Lynch Mob. A massive thank you to them all, as they manage to fill me with pride, gratitude, inspiration and laughter, often all at the same time.

The photo slideshow below is by Lynette Willoughby:

And I can't leave this blog post hanging without thanking everyone who backed my Crowd Funder campaign. THANK YOU!

Pritpal Singh / Elias S Dwan / Frederica Agbah / Simon Lacy

Tim Neale  / Jimmy May / Gina Cattini  / Jo Butt  / Carol Harris   

Anna Zaluczkowska  / Cheryl Killey /  Rob Billson   

Chris Naylor-Ballesteros / Jenny Jet Harris / Bill Bartlett   

Susan Burns / Julia Shemilt / Lynette Willoughby / Emma Adams   

Angela Read  / Sarah Applewhite  / Jude Wright    

Alan Bullimore / Kathy Sadler / Nick Tonge / Michaela O’Sullivan    

Mark Matthews  / Myka Ransom  / Susan Everett / Fran Graham

 Jane Earnshaw  / Sav & Farhan Siddique / Jane Bullimore   

Zoe Parker / Emma Bearman / Maxine & Pat Bird / Donna Rhodes

Emma Rose