Fieldwork Conference Update – Pt 3

In addition to Hagit Keysar and Fiona Shields, Uclan Photo are pleased to welcome Filmmaker, Chris Leslie, Documentary photographer, Mateusz Baj and artist, Alejandra Carles-Tolra to the Fieldwork Conference. 

Chris Leslie is a BAFTA New Talent Award Winning Photographer and Filmmaker and has 
documented stories across Eastern Europe, The Balkans, Africa and Asia as well as in his home city of Glasgow. His project and bestseller photo book Disappearing Glasgow documents the changing face of Glasgow has seen him acknowledged as the most consistent chronicler of the city’s recent history.


High Rise Flat demolition
Polish born, London based photographer, Mateusz Baj is a social documentarian and co-founder of the inPro Collective. Like Chris, Baj’s work will unpack the ‘transformative’ capacity of conflict and upheaval., focusing on the Ukraine, Baj’s talk will unpack his  4year project which seeks to create a photographic portrait of modern Ukraine; a post- Soviet state struggling with the shadows of history, widespread social issues and an uncertain future. 
Lastly, Carles-Tolra discusses a body of work entitled, ‘Where we Belong‘. A piece which explores themes of belonging, femininity and escapism through a portrayal of Jane Austen devotees. The ‘Jane Austen Pineapple Appreciation Society’ is a group of people who share a strong passion for the 19th century English author. The society’s members, who define themselves as Janeites, have created a community of like-minded people with whom to celebrate the work of the writer. Since its creation over two years ago, the society has built a solid network of support and sisterhood that has created strong bonds among its members.
Alejandra Carles-Tolra image
A reminder of the day:

Fieldwork 2018

9.00 – Coffee and Registration

9.45 – Introduction – John van Aitken (UCLan)

10.00 – Fiona Shields

10.45 – Q&A – Fiona Shields & John van Aitken

11.00 – Break

11.30 – Hagit Keysar

12.15 – Q&A – Hagit Keysar & Dr Gary Bratchford (UCLan)

 12.30 – 1.30 – Lunch

1.30 – Chris Leslie

2.15 – Q&A – Chris Leslie & John van Aitken

2.30 – Launch of North magazine – Brian J. Morrison (UCLan)

2.45 – Break

3.00 – 3.20 – Mateusz Baj

 3.20 – 3.40 – Alejandra Carles-Tolra

3.40 – Q&A – Mateusz Baj, Alejandra Carles-Tolra  & Daniel Tierney (UCLan)

4.00  – Closing Comments – John van Aitken

For programme details please contact event organiser, John Van Aitken –

DIY Aerial Photography -Decolonising the Sky

Our second keynote for our forthcoming Fieldwork Conference (14 November 2018) is Israeli scholar, artist, activist, Hagit Keysar. Over the years, UCLan Photography, and specifically the MA, has developed an identity and community of practice that focuses on the political status of the image. This is echoed through the themes of our previous conferences and our chosen keynotes, but also in our teaching. We have modules dedicated to Socially Engaged Practice, another entitled, Space, Location and Territory,  in addition to a critical module called Visualising the In/Visible. In addition to professional practices options such as the Darkroom module and New-Media Practices, the MA reflects a culture of thinking about society, vision and power that are as important now than ever before.
Power is often aligned vision, specifically scopic range. To be able to see afar, either horizontally or from above afford the viewer strategic power and knowledge. We must now begin to think about verticality with greater rigour, specifically in terms of vision. As the possibilities to engage in verticality becomes more democratised, it opens up greater possibilities for play, participation and activism and a sociology of the sky.
Hagit’s abstract is below, followed by her bio. The photo represents the kit required for a DIY aerial photography workshop.
The technique for producing DIY aerial photography with balloons or kites was developed by Public Lab (, an open-source community that develops tools and methods for community-based environmental investigations. It is based on a camera rig made from a reused plastic bottle, equipped with a simple digital camera that is pointed vertically to the ground and tethered to the kite/balloon string. This technique takes part in a broader practice and discourse termed “civic science”, “community science” or “collaborative science” that concerns the democratization of technoscientific tools and methods through the development of participatory technologies and collaborative practices between scientists and citizens, and citizens and themselves. Its first use traces back to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, where it was (and still is) used for creating evidence of the environmental hazards caused by extractive petrochemical industries. Since the oil spill, the development of the toolkit revealed a network of online and on-the-ground actions, people, issues and experiments who contributed to its dissemination and application in the US and other places around the world.
Hagit lives and works in Israel/Palestine, her research is practice-based and brings together visual work, activism and critical theory. She completed her PhD at the Politics and Government Department, Ben Gurion University, Israel; in her thesis, titled: “Prototyping the Civic View From Above: Do-It-Yourself Aerial Photography in Israel-Palestine”, she critically examined the political potential of civic/community science and open-source practices in situations of civic inequalities and human rights violations, focusing on the use of Do-It-Yourself aerial photography techniques. Hagit completed her MA with distinction from the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology in the University of Manchester (UK) and BA in Fine Arts from the Bezalel Academy for Arts and Design, Jerusalem.

Photomontage – The Value of Visual Literacy

Over the course of the second semester, the first year students have been engaging in a range of visual practice that attest to the world we live in. How we see the world and the way in which the world is seen (or understood) is as much to do with the visual as it is anything else. Understanding the visual, specifically as a social, political, cultural or economic communicator is key, specifically in an age of protest. With that in mind, how do we read images or produce visual narratives. Having explored the history of photomontage, the first year’s were tasked with making their own. Some foreground text (with imagery), others used an assemblage of images to narrate a topical issue, visually, with consideration given the public sphere, social media and geo-political affairs overseas ‘and’ at home, whilst some chose to parody existing visual works, reframing public awareness campaigns to critique the contemporary political landscape of the UK.

Image and text by the students:

Erin Cooke:
My concept for this montage was to capture the main focus in our society when looking at social media, we are more interested in reading about celebrities that have no part in helping the world and instead actually using something that will impact our lives and educate us in politics. I then used all these headlines in my montage to create a message for my generation to start being more aware.


Daina Smith:

My photomontage depicts the Manchester Picadilly protesters last week, with Turkish tanks behind them on the tracks. In the foreground is a hand holding a phone, showing negative and ignorant tweets about the protest. I intended for this to reflect the important reason for these protests taking place, as well as how the general public respond to third-world problems that do not concern them personally. The protesters are disrupting transport in and out of a Manchester station to draw attention to a crucial problem in Afrin, where the Turkish are attempting to carry out an ‘ethnic cleansing’ by taking out the YPG who they believe to be terrorists due to their very left-wing views. They have essentially brought the problem onto the train tracks of Manchester, which is why the tank is here behind them and threatening them. The hand holding a phone suggests a British commuter browsing through twitter, ignorant of the protest, while the tweets show ignorance and annoyance also. They are real tweets selected from the website. This is a comment on how we as a privileged first-world society pay no attention to problems in other places in the world that do not concern us, and react to disruptive exposure of these problems with anger and ignorance.


Stephen Fisher:

In 2016, a poster for a new campaign on the UK’s transport network brought outrage to some. As the “See it. Say it. Sorted.” poster is not only racially suggestive but also has a scary resemblance to the images of the Jewish persecution propaganda used in Nazi Germany. The poster shows a suspicious looking Muslim man in the dark foreground and a white woman behind him with the caption “See it. Say it. Sorted.” To me the suggestiveness of this poster comes off entirely racist. So, in response to this poster I created a photomontage using the layout of the “See it. Say it. Sorted.” Poster, but instead filled it with my political beliefs. The antagonist Muslim man in this poster has been replaced with Theresa May, Leader of the Conservative Party and current prime minister. Based on my political beliefs, I believe that she is more dangerous than a Muslim man in a big coat. I then replaced the white women in the background with various protests that pair with my political status and a previous photomontage of Peter Kennards “War Head”. All my political beliefs montaged onto this poster as an advert for the concerns we should all have in this western world and not this racially suggestive poster created by the National Rail and Department of Transport.

The original is on the left, mine is on the right.

7 UCLan Students shortlisted for Eizo Photography awards.

Eizo awards selected 7 BA Photography students from UCLan from over 200 applicants. The 7 BA students who were selected as ‘Notable Entries’.

Here you can see images from Malgorzata Majak & Ellie Jay Heatley                                     

Other students shortlisted were the Kayleigh Hilton, Lewis Jones, Liam Warnock, Molly Cara Albin, Natalie Bishop

Šilainiai micro district – photo walk

Initiated by artist Evelina Šimkutė, the Šilainiai Project is a collaborative endeavour based around the micro district of Šilainiai on the outskirts of Kaunas. On Friday Evelina led UCLan students on a photo walk around the area, which is home to a community of over 50,000 people over 7 districts.

Built in the 80’s, the district was one of the last large scale urban settlements before the break up of the former Soviet Union. As Evelina recalls, “I grew up in Šilainiai. My family was one of the first settlers and I still remember the smell of the freshly painted floor.”

Students spent the day engaging and interpreting the area as part of their ongoing research into the city and its environs.