Media Art and Design Research Blog

Catching the Light (26 July-27 August 2016).


Catching the Light (26 July-27 August 2016).

Photography lecturer Dr Sam Vale has curated a literally enlightening exhibition at the Sidney Cooper Gallery.

Catching the Light explores artists’ fascination with light, how it is used as a material to preserve the essence of place, time and experience, evoking feelings such as nostalgia, wonder and otherness. This exhibition sets to survey light as a medium in the practice of ten contemporary artists, employing a range of media from video based work, to pinhole photography, sculpture and camera obscura.

The works in the exhibition have been developed as practice-based research into the different attributes of light, examining diverse themes and ideas. The exhibition features Michaela French’s Collection from the Museum of Light, which is a series of artworks that reference a cabinet of curiosity and museum archive. The artwork seeks to preserve the essence of place, time and experience through precisely recorded light samples. It creates a visually poetic space, which reflects the ephemeral nature of the human experience of light, as well as our desire to capture and catalogue our experience through the mediated image.

In dialogue with these works are Emma Weislander’s work Black Mirror, Nigel Breadman’s Pinhole Photography, Sophy Rickett’s photographic series Observations, Melanie King’s Hubble Polaroids and artists Marja Pirilä and Petri Nuutinen’s Camera Obscura Buckets.

Also on exhibition are Dr Sam Vale’s images from Loop: The stupid things that adults do, which is a practical research project that explores ideas of repetition using pinhole photography.

The aim of each image is to record the duration of a full circuit of the bus route “The Thanet Loop” in one single flat image. Repeating exactly the same journey on different days, the work explores the differentiation that can occur in replication. The resulting images capture the qualities of light on each day, becoming atmospheric portraits of the Isle of Thanet – a location noted by artist J. M.W. Turner for its beautiful quality of light.

Catching the Light is on at the Sidney Cooper Gallery (Canterbury) and continues until 27 August 2016




Dr Sam Vale holds a BA (Hons) in Photography from Portsmouth University, an MA in Sequential Design from Brighton University and a PhD from the University of the Arts London (L.C.C.). A selection of his work is available on his website.

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