IN THE MARGINS: Behind the Lens with Art Matters

Mar 11, 2024 | Art Project, In the Margins

DAiSY member organisation Art Matters take us behind the lens in this guest post about the Camera Club’s involvement in our latest project: In the Margins

Art Matters are currently exhibiting the artworks ‘We See You’ in Reigate Library, a work inspired by Art Matters Camera Club meeting with artist Jon Adams at Redhill library in October last year.

Jon had spoken about and remembered Libraries as safe places, without the pressure of enforced learning; sanctuaries and a sense of belonging to explore one’s own interests. We discussed stigma and discrimination and arts capacity to educate and bring change. Jon spoke about his work and interventions, the art of subversion, challenge and courage and his campaign for parity in the arts for autistic artists & neurodiversity. It was an inspiring meeting.

Image credit: Dawn Cozens

Image credit: @cristinashek

Camera Clubs’ intention was to record the artists from community art centres and colleges, Bloomin Arts and The Orpheus Centre, making art for the In the Margins exhibition, using Polaroid cameras and film. With its glossy surface and immediacy, Polaroid has the authenticity of each photograph being unique – and we just happened to have an 80’s Polaroid camera in the studio that we needed to try out!

It was wonderful working with the artists and staff at both centres. The sessions were full of creativity and humour, a reminder of art-making’s ability to bring joy.  Artists shared their work and their stories, and everyone got the Polaroid angle. Towards the end of our session at Bloomin’ Arts, the cameras were passed around and this continued at the Orpheus. We were all photographers, and we all watched the magic of the photos developing to reveal wonderful pictures. Thank you, DAiSY, for bringing about this enriching collaboration. 

Back at the studio we started to collate the images. Camera Club photographer and tutor Angus had used a digital layering technique to create his book ‘Defying Expression’ last year, a book using overlaying techniques to ‘question and challenge neurotypical structures’. He used a similar approach with the Polaroid images of artworks and portraits to create a finished print – a photographic tapestry of merged, textured and layered images entitled ‘We See You’. 

From the start we’d planned for the print to be partially obscured, hidden behind books and in the margins. We thank Reigate library staff for helping with this. The print was revealed on the Thursday evening during a performance of book borrowing when the history books were removed from shelves. Everyone in attendance got to see the full picture before history was returned to the shelves.

The second element to ‘We See You’ is in the form of an installation. We’d wanted to use the Polaroid cases and dark slides and, alongside old library lending pockets with dates tracing a books history, used these assets to frame and hang the photographs. The work has a gentle, quiet kinetic energy.

Art Matters thanks: Redhill & Reigate Libraries, Bloomin’ Arts and The Orpheus Centre, Cara, DAiSY and Jon Adams for their inspiration and support and everyone involved in the project.

In the Margins runs at Reigate Library for two months.

Gallery: We See You by Art Matters

Event Photography by Cristina Schek