I Am, We Are, Different By Design is a student-led Zine project in the School of Arts and Communication Design at the University of Reading, based on the topic of diversity. I Am Not The Label You Give Mefeatured as a double-page spread within this zine. All 20 photographs featured in this, as well as a small description of the piece and my inspirations around it. The Zine promoted diversity within the arts discipline and to allow us to move past our cultural comfort zones. The 2019 edition looks at the work produced by members of the School throughout the past year, including projects, events and collaborations with those outside of the direct sphere of the University.
Seeing I Am Not The Label You Give Me in a printed publication reaffirmed that I wish to continue this project, making it become as large as it can especially while at University.
I was invited to Stour Space, London, as part of Art Clubbers first exhibition, Bloomin’ – Growing into Art. This was somewhat a familiar experience of setting up exhibitions and collaborating together to ensure that all pieces were hung in a suitable time, and getting everyone the space that they wanted. I exhibited I Am Not The Label You Give Me as a set, the first time they have been framed after the Study Abroad exhibition earlier in the year. Stour Space is a gallery and working space for artists, and I enjoyed the set up of the gallery as well as it not being a clean cut space – it has been well loved and I feel like that not only added to my piece, but also the exhibition as a whole.
The opening was very exciting, with lots of people engaging and commenting on the works. It was the only photographic piece there and stood out due to its clear position from the door of the gallery, as well as the clear cut mode of presentation. Doing this exhibition has spurred me on to enter more calls for submissions in different areas to see my work in more of a professional space.
I was invited back to the Tate Exchange 2019 with Art Lab for ‘a series of participatory workshops that will enable visitors to explore the theme of movement’. There were several stations on the 5th floor of the Blavatnik Building in Tate Modern that lead people through different types of motion. Some of these were by other departments from the School of Arts and Graphic Communication at the University of Reading, including performance workshops and conversations around the theme of travelling and movement.
One of these was a ‘listen and draw’ activity, asking people to react on paper with pens and pencils to what they heard on headphones, in a silent disco manner. The sound recordings were made by first year students in the module Reading Objects Writing Images. Both schools and members of the public found this a very fun activity which allowed freedom around the papered space. As they were approaching a large piece of paper that was not blank, it was less daunting and allowed further engagement from those of all ages.
The second station of Art Lab’s was that of a selfie sphere which was a big shiny ball suspended from the ceiling. Participants were invited to draw a self portrait in this sphere and then take a 360 image with a GoPro with these self portraits on their head. We found that many would want a photo without the drawing, however it was still a very engaging activity with all ages.
The last station that Art Lab ran was the one I helped out most frequently with over the weekend. This used Augmented Reality (AR) through an iPad, which was placed onto a TV screen. It was originally intended for people to act like sculptures, recreating images, however it ended up that people were interacting more with the objects and animals that we were placing on the screen. We also found that this interaction caused a lot more enjoyment, and allowed us to play around more with the software. It was particularly funny to see the confused faces of those who saw the object on the screen, but not on the ground in front of them.
I also helped in the social media management of the event, posting to @artlabuor and @unirdg_art Instagram accounts to promote the activities. Interacting in a different way than helping out at the stations allowed me to see more of the background work that goes into such a large event. I look forward to see more of the running of large events such as this, and helping in the Tate Exchange with ArtLAB next year.
The study abroad exhibition was a hit success with works being displayed by Romaisa Bhatti, Celdice James, Hira Syed, Zoë Lee, Christine Glover and myself. We had a wide range of practices coming together in two locations to create a flowing exhibition, showcasing the work done while on study abroad in the previous term. I initially had concerns with my photography pieces being opposite windows due to reflection, however this was a smaller problem than first thought. I also felt that it was wise that I did not frame any of the pieces, as the uniform bulldog clips that I had practised in the exhibition preparation worked well for all of the pieces of work. Overall, I was happy to be part of the exhibition and found it a success. In the future, I aim to be more aware of the flow of people especially when there is work between two locations that are blocked by a locked door.
I was chosen to be part of this year’s University of Reading Creative Arts Anthology, which has for the first time, included visual arts as well as poetry and prose. This years theme is The Eye That Looks, somewhat very appropriate for the piece, Fire Escape Clarence, that I submitted while on study abroad at the University of Ottawa. This piece has been a large inspiration for the current projects of making miniature stairs, and photographing them with black and white film. I was invited to speak about my piece on Monday 11th February within the University, along with others who contributed to this years anthology.
Charlotte Abraham is a current third year Art and Psychology student at the university. She uses a wide range of mediums to make people see everyday objects and scenarios in a way they have never been seen before. Her recent work centres around the practice of black and white photography, shooting and developing all film and photographs herself. While on study abroad in Ottawa, Charlotte was inspired by the cityscape around her and photographed stairs, fire escapes and barriers, placing them vertical and creating the need to see them in the correct orientation.
Name: Fire Escape Clarence
Artist: Charlotte Abraham
Medium: Ilford HP5 Plus 400 Black and White Film on Ilford MGIV RC De Luxe Pearl Paper
Recently, in my term abroad at the University of Ottawa, I completed a collection of black and white photographs looking at breaking stereotypes. This work has now been published on the university’s website, along with a small written piece by Robert Greeley, for all to realise that ‘I Am Not The Label You Give Me‘.
“Is Charlotte Abraham a nerd? The third-year international exchange student included herself in a suite of photos titled “I Am Not the Label You Give Me” that challenges us to stop and question common stereotypes.
Abraham, who studied at uOttawa in the fall, recently returned to Britain to complete her degree in art and psychology at the University of Reading. However, toward the end of her semester here, she embraced the opportunity to take part in an exposition, hosted by International House, called “Don’t Feed the Stereotype.” The campaign took a pop culture approach to promoting diversity by debunking stereotypes.
Submissions could be in any medium, so Abraham decided to use the 35mm photography skills she had learned in a uOttawa art class. She loaded her camera with black and white film to create a collection of striking 8” x 10” images.
“‘I Am Not the Label You Give Me’ wants to get those who make stereotypical judgments to think about what they say and how it might affect those they are talking about,” Abraham says. “Pointing out that people are not always the stereotypical labels you give them is just a small step in the march to equality.””
Don’t Feed the Stereotypewas a pop up exhibition with artwork by international students, and is continued campaign at the University Ottawa. This exhibition took a popular culture or religious approach to addressing issues of diversity, in an effort to promote a positive approach to diversity on campus.
I Am Not The Label You Give Me was my project response to this, showing how we are quick to judge people and give them stereotypical labels, even though these are often far from the truth. I chose 10 participants to write down a stereotypical word, phrase or question that they have been told or asked in the past. This could have commented on gender, sexual orientation, religion, career choice, and many other factors. This work was inspired by the six-hundred photograph series Signs that Say What You Want Them To Say and Not Signs that Say What Someone Else Wants You To Say by Gillian Wearing.Jo Spence also provided inspiration with her works that use found objects to display words. I wished to display it in a grid formation, such as the systematic formulation of Arnaud Maggs.
The photographs were taken with a 35mm camera and black and white film. I developed the film and photographs on hand, producing twenty 8×10″ photographs.
These prints are not perfect, and I understand that as there are scratches and marks on the negatives, and some needed a stronger filter than others. I would have liked extreme detail in my photographs, such as the ones Richard Learoyd produces, but I knew that this may not be the case. Despite these technical difficulties, I believe that the overall piece is still able to project the central idea, that people do not live under the stereotypical labels that we may give them.
I, unfortunately, had little say in the display of the prints within the pop up exhibition. I ultimately wanted them framed and on the wall, however due to the small space with no walls, the choice was to display them in a photo book. This allowed the piece to be more interactive than I perhaps originally anticipated, but did not have the same impact that I wished for. When displaying again, I will have them in frames and up on the wall in a grid formation.
The Sans Camera exhibition was a two-week long exhibition held at Galerie 5.6 at the art department, University of Ottawa. This was a student effort, collaborating to curate a themed exhibition. The work chosen was from out first photography assignment, using pinhole cameras as well as photograms and invented negatives. Working as a group, we were able to choose two works from each person, selecting out of the ones the student wanted to exhibit. The photograms and invented negatives were then displayed in a portrait manner, laid across one wall with the pinhole photography reflecting them on the other side. The exhibition even went around the corner and down the corridor, enticing people to see it when they were walking through the department. To further entice those in the department to take a look at the exhibition, the pinhole cameras were displayed on a wall upstairs on the main floor, with instructions to go downstairs and see the photos that these cameras produced.
Those who came to the exhibition reception, held at the end of the exhibition, found viewing the cameras very exciting as they were not anticipating cardboard boxes and coffee tins. Holding the exhibition in Galerie 5.6 also allowed those visiting to gain more of an idea of our process and areas that we work in, allowing them to somewhat appreciate the work further.
The two works I submitted to the exhibition were “to pytalise” , an invented negative of my saliva, and Churchgoers, a pinhole photograph of cars lined up by the nearby church. These suited the theme of the exhibition, but also stood out, especially that of “to pytalise”, due to its subject matter.
The exhibition has now moved to Paradigm(e) Gallery, which is the Dean’s gallery at the University of Ottawa until the end of February, where they are all on sale.
This was the final event for the Reading Scholars 2017/18, held at the University of Reading over three days and two nights. Such as the second event in Tate Modern, I was once again asked to create a video to display the activities that the Scholars got up to over this residential. Although all the strands were at the University, including Business, Biology, Maths, English, Art, Chemistry and Languages, the video primarily captures the events of the Art and Design strand. Activities here, included cyanotypes, photograms, clay, sculpture, instructional artwork, letter press and InDesign work. Each of the Scholars were able to take what they had made with them as something to remember the Reading Scholars by, and something unique to add to their portfolio.
I enjoyed creating this video, and look forward to working with the next cohort of Reading Scholars on some new and exiting projects and events.
The fourth and final event with the Reading Scholars was a three day residential, where the students were able to stay in university halls and enjoy several other aspects of their time here that they may not have been able to experience without the residential element. Within the Art and Design strand, students were able to choose whether they wanted to partake in the Art or Typography activities.
Those who chose art were then split into two groups, where they completed an activity one day, and then swapped over for the second day, which gave the opportunity for more contact with the lecturers and mentors, and a larger chance to get hands on.
On the first day, we introduced them to instructional art, and produced several artworks that we very free, but still following instructions. There were a wide range of materials used throughout the day including clay, wire, small pieces of laser cut plastic and cardboard. Each of these were simple materials, however the instructions followed allowed for some interesting creations. I helped several student with possible ideas for the clay element, opening up new doors within their thought and design process. I also assisted some of the students to find other materials that were more challenging to work with. Lastly, as it was a particularly hot day, I ensured that they all had a sufficient amount of water at all times.
The second day was equally as interesting – the students were able to use our wet dark room to create their own photograms on light sensitive paper. They had bought some of their own transparent items, and used a whole table worth, to create unique and interesting designs. I was on hand if anyone had questions about the process or designs, as I have previous photogram experience. I was amazed at how many photograms were made, the detail within each, and the effect of the aperture and timing upon each of them.
There was a second part to day two, as the student were able to carry on with photograms in the dark room, experimenting with different light sources, movement and also photographs onto the photograms. The students weee also able to learn a new technique of cyanotypes. These are effectively outside photograms and use UV light. This is a unique opportunity to work with the special chemical that are prized and painted onto the paper. The process was very interesting and I helped each of the students to hold their print down while it was in the sun both while developing and drying. I was also able to stop the development of many of their pieces by washing them off, allowing the students to create more while they were drying. Again, as it was a hot day, I ensured the students had enough water, and were drinking regularly.
The final day of the residential was some information about applying to university, and taster sessions for other subjects that the students picked. This allowed them to see more of what the university has to offer.
Overrall, the residential element of Reading Scholars 2017/2018 was very enjoyable. I successfully aided students both from art and other strands with queries and situations. I found that some elements were difficult to deal with, namely because of the number of students that are on the residential. Although there were these difficulties, I believe that the residential and activities were a success.
Subscribe for the latest art updates in my newsletter