Feature Blogger- Kayleigh Whanstall talks to James E Smith

From Horncastle, Lincolnshire, Kayleigh Whanstall is a 23-year-old who is passionate about entertainment and art. Currently studying for a Masters in Arts Journalism, she uses her blog to showcase her journalistic skills.

Check out her post below or visit her website.

In this post, Kayleigh profiles artist James E Smith.

James E Smith

James E Smith is a Lincolnshire born artist that has moved to Australia. His work is currently being held at the Usher Gallery in Lincoln. He was asked to create an exhibition in response to the Lawn’s Mental Asylums found photographs, after his relevant art work in the OPEM 3.

Can you explain what your exhibition is about?
“It was based upon a response to the photographs that the Usher Gallery and the Collection handed to me two years ago, that they had required from the Lawns Asylum. The photographs were of patients that had been detached from any records that showed who they were.

“They were interested in working with myself based upon the work I had created for OPEM which was a video in sculpture work. I could see why they wanted me to work with that as the archive was about photography and how it does not embody other meanings.

“As I have recently moved I was not so keen on working directly with this archive because I was not able to access it. If I were to of been in the UK, perhaps the work would have turned out completely different.”

How does your work relate to you personally?
“I guess with the photography it is a very personal approach. I have often followed a set of rules or set myself an outline of what I was going to do. I have just been exercising that set of parameters. I did try and apply that to this work but it was very much about my personal experience of the landscape and my discovering of what this place was.

“How the preconceptions of somewhere can fade away as you experience the place and what you feel about those things that might be invisible to people who are familiar with those places. Those places as a visitor seem sort of striking that over time become more common to you.”

Did you limit yourself to a specific number of photographs in this exhibition?
“I worked throughout the year on some sort of project but the show then changed that into being the starting point of a series. In the end, I chose a few images that I had shot before that point. This is when you look at the guide and see the dates jump from November 2015 to February. There is a bit of a gap when I was not photographing much stuff.

“I did not want to be too tight on the edit, I did not want to get down to forty images. There were up to five hundred images at one point. I would eliminate fifty images in a day because they were not subtle enough or a bit repetitive.”

Is there any reason to the different sizing of each photograph?
“Rather than it being the bigger it is, the more important it is. The smaller images are the ones you need to get in closer to see as there is more detail whereas the larger images are more simple, they might be of just one object.

“I initially thought it would all be like a linear timeline; it is loosely chronological. I was playing with the viewpoints of how I experienced what I was seeing. Mostly the things that are on the ground are hung lower and the views looking up are higher.”

Why did you choose photography?
“In terms of material I think I was going to and from different mediums. Over the last five to ten years I have had a relationship with photography but I do not explicitly say I am a photographer or think that all the work I do is photography. I do some film and sculpture work.

“I can’t make big sculptures. Showing something in Britain whilst being in Australia is very difficult and shipping work over to Britain is ridiculously expensive.”


Written by Kayleigh Whanstall


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