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My name is Lewis and I am a photographer and video artist based in Manchester. I received my first camera when I was six years old, which was part of an adventure set. I can remember walking around for hours with this device that didn’t even have the film in it and capturing the images that I wanted through the framing of the camera and filing them in my head. I have been a student of photography ever since and I still find it as exciting as that first day.
I graduated Plymouth CAD in 1998 with an HND in media production and a Ba (Hons) in photo-media and started working as a studio assistant in London, then assistant photographer on fashion and advertising shoots and becoming free-lance in 2000. In 2001 I founded and managed Odyssey hire studio in London that had high profile clients such as Talkback productions, Brighter pictures, Sky and Heat magazine however I closed it in 2004 to be able to spend more time with my daughter.
Whilst taking on the role of “stay at home father” I successfully applied for arts council funding for the self-generated project “Culture of our times (nature vs nurture) since then the centre of my practice has focused on reportage and street photography, with particular focus on the question of “identity” and “environment”. As part of this project I designed and ran art workshops for my former secondary school in which I looked at these themes with the young people and how they are integral to the production of artwork.
I explored these themes again in depth again in 2011, with a collaborative project for Samuel Rhodes schools for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties. Over the year we moved through drawing, painting, photography and finished with a filming project. It allowed the young people to concentrate on their own personal identities, which later involved being sent home with individual disposable cameras to capture their personalities and that of their families in their own environments. The images of which were later used in a very successful exhibition for the school. I continued to work closely with the schools separate primary and secondary departments throughout 2013-2014 on various photography, filming and animation projects. I enjoyed this period very much as I feel I grew as an artist because everything we started became very much driven by the responses and energy of the children. This I found makes for a very organic process where anything and everything can happen. Which helps you to really be in the moment with them and willing to change direction at any time which is not only a stimulating way to spend a day, but I feel it encompasses the true nature of art.
I have also worked with “mainstream” schools and in 2014 I designed and delivered a photographic project about identity for Robert Blaire primary in Islington that ran over art week for year 3s and 6s and also involved an over 55s group that came into work alongside the year 6 children. Through this, I have extended working with community groups in Manchester, London and Yorkshire which has also been very valuable to my own artistic practise and contribute something towards the communal dynamic. I have designed and delivered workshops for NCS, Settle stories and Shelter.
I strongly believe that art, photography and video’s main function should be to comment on society as the artist sees it. As I see it visual arts gives all types of people a level playing field to have a chance to do this. I believe it is vital to the quality of life that individuals have a chance to express themselves and communicate this to others regardless of training. By addressing art from the themes of identity and environment we not only go on an artistic journey, but we also begin to understand things about ourselves, how we think, how our environment affects us and how we process that. I feel that these doctrines, when approached in a fun and engaging manner, can have deeper implications than producing a piece of artwork and can be applied to lots of different areas of an individual’s life. I like to approach the actual teaching in a series of small “sequential and accumulative” steps. Which I feel makes it much clearer and easier to pick up and repeat that build to not only progress technical knowledge but also to discover and develop their own creative eye which encourages them to use and include individual personality traits into there work. Allowing them to use their art to communicate to a wider audience.