Outtake from DRAWING NEAR. March 2019.


Context. How and where we view images, and their ‘why? This is an interesting subject for me. Partly because there are so many ways in which images can been. So many CONTEXTS. Some of which are surprising and raise questions. Such as what happened to me this week.

A year ago I had a large exhibition of portraits of artists and performers as a commission by Brighton Fringe. The images were presented in a very public exhibition space (a railway station – surprising but successful context?), printed very large. There was considerable press and public response. Then, a couple of days ago, I saw this:

One of the images had been used by the respective artist as a small flyer for a forthcoming production and pinned to a local notice board in a book shop in Brighton. I noticed it with some surprise. It seemed so unimportant, a scrap of information that most people would never even notice. Obviously for me it had completely different context: I knew the work that had gone into creating this image and the other 34 in the exhibition, the time, the energy etc. Here it was presented almost as an afterthought, like a remainder in a bargain book store. It was humbling. Rightly so, I think. But it made for such a dramatic change of context for me and reminded me of how ‘small’ photography can be to the world when presented in certain ways. It’s probably interesting to note that when the same image appeared on social media, at the time of the exhibition, it garnered much more interest and comment.


So, it’s time to start putting it out there. The ‘work’, the play. Experiments and tentative investigations. Not the easiest time in a projects life to do that, it feels vulnerable and almost ‘too soon’ – but the requirements of the course require evidence so on we go.

Starting with the creation of an online project portfolio. Mine is here (link in the menu header as well): https://www.jamesbelloriniphoto.com

In terms of editing and ‘killing your darlings’, the process of putting a portfolio together is great (though agonising) for focusing what it is I want to say with work. Especially here. What I have realised is that I’m going to break the project down into smaller related projects (almost chapters). Still too early to pin things down, I’m still ‘scratching’ as Twyla Tharpe puts it in her book The Creative Habit, following my intuition.


Visit to the camera obscura at Foredown Tower, Portslade. Might be a red herring in terms of the technology, but there’s something undeniably magical about it as a form of viewing the world. Especially when you witness movement of some kind across the image (birds especially) and specular highlights which both seem almost unreal in their presence. This resonates with aspects of my project: the sense of heightened reality or alienation that I’m seeking.

Something else that has come up for me this week in relation to my project, is the use of anger as fuel for work and practice. It came about because a lot of people I know who have been living and working in the UK are now leaving because of Brexit. This both breaks my heart and makes me angry that such unnecessary human upheaval is being forced upon people because they no longer feel welcome. It underlines the themes of belonging and modern diaspora I’m examining in my research project.

In term so the work though, it’s necessary for me to recognise this anger as fuel (a ‘Spine’ – Twyla again) but to step back from it for the work to breathe and not become polemical.