Regain by Jenny Newbury_2

The current exhibition at O3 Gallery is a collection of work from the ‘Bath Spa Porthleven Prize 2014′ under the exhibition title Porthleven: A Peripatetic Encounter. Back in May this year, five students from Bath Spa University undertook a ten day residency in Porthleven, Cornwall and have produced works inspired by the Cornish coast and the physical act of walking the landscape. The participating students: Lucinda Burgess, Emily Furnell, Fiona Haines, Sae Murai and Jennifer Newbury have skilfully woven together all aspects of their Porthleven experience to produce a “contemporary creative vision of this special location” and the exhibition runs at the O3 Gallery until Sunday 26th October 2014.

Whilst viewing the artworks, I began to link them together in my head, imagining my own ‘Peripatetic Encounter’ along an isolated beach in Cornwall. On my journey I see the beautiful seascape views in Jennifer Newbury’s photographs. I can hear running water as I walk on a hidden path that’s near a flowing river with nearby trees as presented in Fiona Haines’s layered medium-format photographs. When I see the rough, scratched lines and textured graphite work of Lucinda Burgess, I think of the irregular surfaces of rock that would surround me, walking on paths that have been trampled on by so many people who visit the same areas; damaged walls full of rooted cracks.


Various images by Fiona Haines

When I encountered the sculpture by Lucinda Burgess – consisting of ‘found’ objects from Porthleven, one encased in hand-blown glass; I imagined finding these objects discarded on the beach after the storms; damaged by weather exposure. Burgess’ second sculpture entitled ‘After the Storm’ consists of a rusty chain, from which a slice has been cut and polished revealing a shiny surface that gleams in the sun.

'After the Storm' by Lucinda Burgess

My personal favourite from the exhibition is ‘Contour (Legend)’ by Sae Murai, who has created an intricate French knitted map of Porthleven, appropriately set at the top entrance of the gallery for you to start your own journey around the gallery. Metal pins and thin thread are connected together making a delicately patterned blanket of lines. Pins are plotted with numbers that are given a text reference by creative writer Jennifer Newbury, and describes different occurrences at that point of their walk:

6. ‘A black flag made of bin liner shreds in the breeze.’

15. ‘Emily’s squeaky boots.’

A lovely documented piece that is beautifully presented.

'Contour (Legend)' by Sae Murai

This contemporary exhibition at the O3 Gallery compliments the modest space of the venue and is a great representation of student contemporary art. I hope it also acts as encouragement for others to create art based on their environment. This is a wonderful result from a great opportunity for these five Bath Spa students.

by Febby Mpundu


See the exhibition until Sunday 26th October.

O3 Gallery is open Mon- Fri 12-5pm, Sat & Sun 11-4pm.

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Oxford is set to become a beacon on the world map of photography with Europe’s newest and most ambitious photography festival. From the 14th September for 3 weeks, 20 venues across the city of Oxford will be exhibiting the work of some of the world’s finest Photographers during The Photography Oxford Festival 2014.Reflexiones 08, Madrid 2013

The festival strives to make photography available to the widest possible audience in the region, bringing world class photography out of the confines of London and onto the beautiful historic street of Oxford.

Henry Fox Talbot, Britain’s pioneer of the photographic process, made some important early images in Oxford during the 19th century. It’s time to celebrate the city’s links with the beginnings of an art form that has become ever present in all our lives.
(Robin Laurance – director of Photography Oxford Festival)

The Photography Oxford Festival acts to stimulate debate and discussion through a programme of talks, debates, workshops, films and competitions that will run alongside the exhibitions. The Festival aims to raise awareness and an appreciation of the photographic arts to the level enjoyed by painting, sculpture and the other visual arts.


What to look out for:

The prestigious World Press Photo Exhibition 2014 making its UK debut in Oxford. The celebrated French photographer Bernard Plossu is exhibiting his work at the Maison Francaise – the first time he has exhibited in Britain.

The award-winning photographer Robin Hammond is showing his work about the decline of Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe; and Laura el-Tantawy will be showing her work on Egypt’s painful transition from the Mubarak era to the present day. Keble College will host an exhibition of work by the alumni of Dhaka’s Pathshala Institute.

Souvenirs is an exhibition that looks at how photographs have become the essential souvenir and more important even than just experiencing an occasion, while Designed to Deceive uncovers the artful propagandists, editors, politicians and photographers who have manipulated images both before and after the introduction of Photoshop.


The O3 Gallery: Restwert 13th September – 5th October 2014

Reflexiones 02, Madrid 2013

Here at the O3 Gallery we are proud to announce that we are exhibiting the work of German photographers Matthias Heiderich and Dietmar Eckell in a joint exhibition entitled ‘RESTWERT’. Taken from Dietmar Eckell’s long running photographic project ‘Restwert’ the German translation being ‘residual value’, this exhibition –as the title suggests – asks viewers to take a deeper and more considered look at the artist’s work for their theoretical or true value.

Matthias Heiderich is a self-taught German photographer based in Berlin. Since 2010 he has exhibited in the United States and across Europe including solo shows at Audi Art Gallery in St. Petersburg, Carte Blanche in San Francisco and Spot Galerie in Berlin. Matthias Heiderich’s architectural photographs are characterised by an interest in geometric form and hyper-saturated colour, these abstract images offer a unique view of modern architecture.

Dietmar Eckell is a German photographer and adventurer whose work explores the ‘Restwert’ (residual value) of abandoned objects. The aesthetics of decay, the stories behind the write-offs and the memories they evoke make these objects and their sublime surrounding landscapes worth documenting. Dietmar Eckell’s photographs attempts to underline the temporality of manmade objects, human endeavors and perception by capturing them in nature’s endlessly regenerative growth.

Knock on wood, Happy End #11.3, USA, 2012Fuel of life, Happy End #6.1 Canada, 2011

The O3 Gallery invites you to come and experience these beautiful and thought provoking works. Photography Oxford exhibitions launched 13th September and run until 5th October. There is lots to do and see all over the city including talks from famous writer David Campany at the Lady Margaret Hall and a showing of Sebastian Junger’s ‘Which way is the front line’ at the Phoenix Picturehouse. With so much going on be sure to follow ‘O3 Gallery’ on Twitter/Facebook/Blog for more info. For dates and further info be sure to check out the Photography Oxford Festival website:

Entry to all the exhibitions will be free.

O3 Gallery Oxford Castle Oxford OX1 1AY

01865 246131
Opening times: Tues-Fri 12-5pm,
Sat & Sun 11am-4pm,
Closed Mondays.

pic15Light, Land & Place is the current exhibition at the O3 Gallery by Oxfordshire-based artist Caroline Meynell.
Meynell produced a wide variety of atmospheric paintings of landscapes and nature that will be displayed within the inspiring historic walls of the gallery until August 17th.

Behind Meynell’s artworks is a clear accurate analysis of the interplay between the light, land and space made concrete through the use of bold and strong colour typical of her style.
What strikes me most of her paintings and what I think sets them apart from others is the fact that the artist has the ability to convey feelings of calm, silence and stillness leading the public to experience somethig akin to a therapeutic moment. 
For instance, after a chaotic and busy day, admiring one of these paintings definitely helps you to relax and feel “distracted” by their positive vibes. This sensation is probably given by the use of a soft and subtle palette of oils and acrylics in thin layers which convey a sense of lightness, grace and elegance.

If I were to select a favourite of the 28 paintings on display; I think it would be Whose Every Autumn is a Second Spring I & II (acrylic on canvas)
whose perspective in a way reminds me of a Japanese garden. DSC_0044
The paintings presented across two canvasses show a flowering spring tree, or better, intersecting branches in a dance of colours from orange to yellow and blue. The  harmonious composition, invokes a sense of softness which leads the public’s eye to the final of a subtlety of depth and translucency.

Furthermore, the artist’s keen awareness of the sense of colour gives life to both form and lines. The abstract canvas with its tonal yellows: Dancing Memories represents a perfect example of this. Dancing Memories

The exhibition’s title Light, land & Place describes Meynell’s work in its entirety. The contemporary landscapes – often of local places well-loved by the artist; are dreamy, atmospheric and perfectly convey a changing light throughout the seasons.

Light, Land & Place ends this Sunday 17th August.





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Caroline MeynellYour continuous research of sense of space and light and your clear passion for the process of painting led me to think of JMW Turner. Do you consider his paintings and techniques as an inspiration to you? Are there any other past or contemporary artists you like to follow or consider an influence?

There are many artists I love, but Turner is one of the key ones. Rothko is another, who in turn was himself influenced by Turner, although this is not widely known. It is their use of light and colour that is inspirational. I am not so sure I follow Turner’s techniques, as I am not very conventional in the way I paint. Perhaps it is more of Rothko’s ‘staining’ that I unconsciously follow because, contrarily, I take paint off almost as much as I put it on. In this way I build up subtle layers of paint. DSC_0084

Is there any place in particular which you like to consider inspirational for the thinking and making of your art works? Do you sometimes paint ‘en plein air’ for your first drafts as Impressionist painters used to do by direct contact with nature and landscape or do you prefer working inside your studio?

My work stems mostly from the landscape, places that are very familiar to me. I paint in the studio from sketches that are made outside, and from memory, so that the paintings become a distillation of the place, as well as conveying a sense of light and space.

What are your plans for the future? Are there any more artworks in preparation for future exhibitions?

My art is ongoing, so there is always something in the pipeline! I am currently working on a series of clefts and cliffs, which I can see developing onto large scale canvases. I am also planning a series of ‘ small works: open spaces’, which seems a contradiction in terms, but that is the paradox. So you can see from this that I work small scale as well as large.

Focusing now our attention on the role of art and society nowadays, do you have any advice for an aspiring artist?

pic8I think there has been a sea change in Britain with regards to the visual arts. Tate Modern, other contemporary galleries, and many other factors such as the Young Brit Artists of the 80’s, have all made an enormous impact to the buzz that is in the British Artworld. Now is a very exciting time for aspiring artists. The great thing is to find your style and medium, and to keep pushing the boundaries!

Light, Land & Place runs until 17th August; what would you like the public to gain from their exhibition experience at the O3 Gallery?

Enjoyment. And the pleasure of visiting the unusual and delightful O3 Gallery.



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Our current exhibition which runs until August 17th is Light, Land & Place – an exhibition of paintings by Oxfordshire based artist Caroline Meynell.
For this occasion, we interviewed Caroline asking her a few questions about her background as well as her artistic style and influences.

First of all, it would be very interesting if you could describe your typical daily routine; ‘A Day in the Life of Caroline Meynell’.


Working towards an exhibition, I spend about four to six hours in the studio – three hours in the morning and up to three hours in the afternoon. I work on several canvases at a time, partly to allow drying time, partly because one canvas leads on to another. I never finish a painting in a day. One of the paintings in the gallery was worked on for over a year, and it is one of the smallest in the exhibition.

How and when did you start seeing yourself as an artist? Has it been a calling since childhood or perhaps a process developed during adolescence? And what is the reason, if there is one, why you chose an artistic path rather than a different field?

DSC_0044As a child I was always aware of colour and light, but didn’t do much painting. It was in my mid teens that I was introduced to history of art, and this opened up the whole world of art to me. I knew I wanted to do something in the artistic field, but paintings wasn’t somehow an option, so I studied History of Art further. I then worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York before becoming a picture researcher for leading art publishers in London. It was a wonderful way of training the eye. I started designing and making jewellery, which was something I could do at home with a young family, but it wasn’t until I stopped making jewellery that I realised I wanted to continue being creative, and rather nervously I thought I would paint. I started with an ‘A’ level art course, and this led on to a Fine Art Degree. I graduated eleven years ago, and have been painting and exhibiting ever since. I think it took me a year or two after graduating that I felt I could call myself a practising artist. I am now doing what I probably always wanted to do, which is to paint!

How much impact do you think your experience as a picture researcher for leading art publishers has had on you as an artist and in what way do you think it influenced your current style as well as artistic taste?

As a picture researcher I worked on books covering a wide period, from the early Greek and Romans to the contemporary, and this has provided me with a wealth of visual images to draw on. However, I have developed my own style, but I don’t think I would be where I am now with my work without all that experience.


Do you consider your art work as a desire to convey a message or sensation to the public or rather as a personal gratification?

I never think of my paintings being for myself. I hope to produce work that are imbued with light, and bring a sense of stillness and space, to slow people down to look at as a counter to the fast world around us.




Follow the second part of   Caroline’s interview on our next blog post !






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Image: Stu Allsopp

Davy & Fairies. Image: Stu Allsopp


O3 Gallery’s current show, ‘Underland’ is an exhibition of contemporary fine art by various artists. Taking its inspiration from established stories such as those found in Greek mythology, ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and the more contemporary ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’, O3 Gallery’s Underland explores the imagined terrain, characters and occurrences of the underworld.

Bristol-based husband and wife team Davy and Kristin McGuire are one of the artists exhibiting. Together they run an award-winning studio utilising the skills learnt from their different backgrounds: Davy’s in theatre and film, Kristin’s in dance. The duo design unique visual experiences through art installations and theatrical projects, producing delicate artworks built with fragile materials that are momentarily brought to life through digital projections and silent storytelling. The McGuire’s piece in Underland is  ‘Jam Jar Fairies’, a magical installation in which fairies are trapped in glass cages, knocking to escape…also known as a video sculpture to the less whimsical. We asked the pair some questions to find out what makes them tick:

How does it feel to be part of the O3 Gallery’s Underland exhibition? 

As soon as we saw the title and the description of the exhibition we thought: This is us! It‘s so fitting that we even considered asking you if we could use some of the copy for describing what we do.

Career-wise you come from quite different backgrounds, how has this influenced the work you produce? And who is responsible for what?

For every project we basically take on the roles that naturally appeal to us for the creative process of that particular piece of work. There are no fixed roles because every new work usually requires us to learn new skills and we find out who wants to do what as we go along. We think our different personalities probably influence our work more than our different backgrounds because they really compliment each other. When Kristin says that something is not possible because of time/budget and resources Davy says Let‘s do it!

The piece on display in the Underland exhibition is ‘Jam Jar Fairies’, but trapping nymphs in vessels is just one aspect of your work, could you describe some of your favourite pieces to us?

Davy‘s favourite piece is called Pinboard which really needs to be seen to be understood. It‘s a pinboard full of blank pieces and bits of paper which are mapped with video projections. The projections bring each paper to life in order to tell the story of a couple through a love song. It was one of our first pieces of work and people still really take to it. Kristin loves The Haunted Dress which is an installation in which the dress of a pretty malevolent fairy queen comes to life with video projections and sound. It‘s a really haunting experience of the ghost of a very beautiful woman telling the audience how she seduced and then abandoned a man who subsequently went mad.

Image: Stu Allsopp

Jam Jar Fairies. Image: Stu Allsopp

What inspired you to work in your chosen mediums, combining fragile detailed paper creations with projections, for instance? 

Hmm, projections are great for creating magic, for adding a surreal layer to the existing world. It‘s the perfect technique for the worlds we are interested in creating. We love the way paper takes light, so the combination of paper and projections was just a great match.  

Would you say your work draws on the same themes as some of the other pieces in Underland, on ancient mythology and historic folklore?

Oh yes! We love the combination of dark and beautiful and a lot of folk tales are about exactly that dichotomy.

Underland runs until the 13th July, so be sure to glimpse the fairies before they disappear back into the ether.

For enquiries about Davy & Kristin McGuire’s work please contact O3 Gallery:


T: 01865 246131

To find out more about the current exhibition, visit O3 Gallery or keep an eye on our social media channels:

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Underland exhibition at the O3 Gallery, Oxford

Underland is the current exhibition at the O3 Gallery which runs until Sunday 13th of July. For this occasion, the gallery has made available its evocative and dreamy walls (which once belonged to Oxford Castle’s prison) to give life and space to an alternative world, made by wild animals and dense forests inspired by the stories of Greek mythology and historic folklore, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Pan’s Labyrinth.
Through their artworks, many contemporary and international fine artists together depict the wonders that lie behind the shady but highly fascinating landscapes of an underground and secret world – such as the one which Alice tumbled upon down the rabbit hole. Interesting to underline is that the exhibition actually takes inspiration for its name from the first manuscript of Lewis Carroll’s novel, titled Alice’s Adventures Underground; whose protagonist now plays the role of guide within this unconventional and unique journey through Underland.

At first, it is very easy for our attention to be immediately attracted by two jam jars located at the lower entrance of the gallery, each one containing a fairy. Fluttering and tapping their wands on the glass of the jars, the fairies appear to have just been trapped inside this cage and are now trying to escape. Jam Jar Fairies by Davy and Kristin McGuire use not only projection but also sound to create this magical installation: to attract our attention, the mythical creatures create sounds and jingles forming a polyphonic musical composition. Again, it is easy to link the two creatures to Carroll’s novel, in which they appear several times.

'Jam Jar Fairies' by Davy and Kristen McGuire

‘Jam Jar Fairies’ by Davy and Kristen McGuire

The fairies are therefore followed by other mythological characters such as flying donkeys and Minotaur in the form of etchings and pencil drawings by the fine artist and illustrator Benjamin Parker. Through the naïve style of Minotaur Mother, Reclining Minotaur and The Flying Donkey, Parker’s aim is that of representing the perpetual battle between fighting and the acceptance of our animalistic nature. Moreover, displayed in the gallery, is also a cranked clay sculpture showing a mythological figure with the body of a human and the imposing head of a stag. Although at first glance, Last of the Old Ones by Simon Griffiths, may look disturbing and intimidating, by shifting one’s attention to the other works of art in the gallery, it is easy to realize that this is all meant to be part of an evocative scenery which leaves behind a trail of magic and curiosity. The sculpture, located just in the middle of the gallery, seems to act as a guardian of this unknown world.

Furthermore, Underland’s theme can be also felt inside the dense, pristine and enlightened forests as those that can be admired in the Urban Wildlife series by the photographer Patricia van de Camp. Through these photographic prints, the artist depicts wild animals such as hare and deer inside industrial spaces so as to symbolise her alter ego which seems to reflect mixed feelings, from tranquility to alienation and estrangement.


Work by Benjamin Parker

‘Snow and the Owl’ by Vikram Kushwah

Similarly, other photographic prints through which I found the same hint of nostalgia but in a more dream-like atmosphere are those by Vikram Kushwah. The most striking of these, is certainly Snow & the Owl, which shows a girl sitting in a light green bathtub holding an owl. With her simple garments and flowing hair, the character seems to be at one with the plants that grow behind her. In a sense, it is almost like being the witness of metamorphosis that turns the fairy character into a climbing plant, outlining a certain similarity with the ancient Greek myth of Daphne and Apollo.

Presumably related to Kushwah’s background in fashion photography, the girl and the bathtub are recurring subjects in the artist’s photographic prints.The female character, better seen as an Alice-type figure, is often protagonist of a bizarre and perplexing world such as in the case of Elizabeth & the Bathtub in which a lonely girl is seen to be using a bathtub as an unlikely sailboat exploring a desolate forest.

The exhibition continues up the gallery staircase. The last image you encounter is a photographic print with a hand-lettered phrase which states “Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures”. Leah Flores, photographer and illustrator, seems to adopt encouraging words of this kind so as to spur people into the exploration of the natural world, as can be seen through the dimly lit forest and waterfall which play a background role within the print.

‘Blessed are the Curious’ print by Leah Flores


Underland themed merchandise in the Gallery Shop.

In addition, the fact that this work is located at the very top of the stairs makes me think metaphorically to the fact that a visitor from the lower part of the gallery has traveled all the way up until he reaches the artwork. Similarly, Alice’s curiosity led her to slip down the Rabbit Hole and discover the wonders of an imagined world. Actually, it is worth going up to the very end of the staircase, because this way you can also access the O3 Gallery Shop, which displays objects dedicated to the theme of Underland.

Here, it is unlikely for our attention not to be attracted by the small gift ideas such as cufflinks, brooch pins and necklaces. Kept in lovely boxes, the cufflinks by Literary Emporium show quotes from much-loved tales often linked to the theme of adventure and travel.  These, together with the more stylized animal-shaped pins and the necklaces by Phillip J. Jones, perfectly recall the delicacy and preciousness of a fairy-tale world inhabited by animals and mythological figures as well as landscapes and surreal atmospheres. And if that is not enough, also mugs, canvas bags, lace and linear wing wire fairies by Rachel Ducker and butterfly artworks from Naomi Greaves are available to purchase: ideal as adornments or just simply to treat yourself.

Cards, jewellery and gifts in the Gallery Shop

Undoubtedly, all the works of art that I could see inside the Underland exhibition at the O3 gallery gave me the feeling of keeping a secret, something that leads the visitor not to stop at the first glance, but rather to keep looking beyond appearances. Underland is meant to overturn the traditional dynamics of the fairy tale to make room for different points of view, leading the public to observe the world in a different way with eyes full of wonder; just like a child would. Moreover, a key role is also played by the emphasizing music in the background, which accompanies the visitor all along the journey into this enchanted world and which feels like it has been composed just for this exhibition.

Fairytale merchandise in the gallery shop

This is exactly what I felt when first walked into the gallery on my first day as an intern. Besides being a visitor, I also felt like the explorer of a mysterious underground adventure in the world that O3 Gallery has created for this occasion. It is fascinating to see how a person of any age can feel a bit like Alice, turning into the main character of an unforgettable journey, and is certainly impossible not to feel bewitched by this experience. As a result, Underland led me to consider the fact that we are never too old for dreaming because imagination and wonder has no age.

By O3 Gallery Intern, Kimberley Wild

Underland will keep its doors open to the public until July 13th so if you would like to experience the exhibition for yourself, do come and explore this fascinating space where you will encounter all the above-mentioned curious characters, artwork and lots and lots more.

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Alice LiddellOne summer’s afternoon, 4th July 1862, Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, Reverend Robinson Duckworth and the three daughters of Henry Liddell (the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University and Dean of Christ Church), Lorina Charlotte Liddell (aged 13), Alice Pleasance Liddell (aged 10) and Edith Mary Liddell (aged 8), went boating up the River Thames from Folly Bridge in Oxford to Godstow.

To entertain the girls, Charles Dodgson, an Oxford don and mathematician (b. 1832, d. 1898), narrated a story in which all those present were included. It told of a girl named Alice, who sitting bored on the riverbank with her sister, found herself chasing a rabbit down a rabbit hole and tumbling into an underground world of fantasy and adventure. The girls liked the story so much that Alice Liddell pleaded Dodgson to write it down. Dutifully Dodgson did so, and he finally presented Alice with the finished hand-written manuscript, illustrated by the author himself, on November 26 1864. The title of this story was “Alice’s Adventures Under Ground”.

Alice's Adventures Underground Encouraged by his friends, Dodgson revised and expanded the story and approached John Tenniel to illustrate it. This version, published as “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” in 1865 under the pseudonym ‘Lewis Carroll’, has since become one of the most loved children’s books ever written.

To celebrate that first telling of the story on 4th July 1862 Oxford has created ‘Alice’s Day’, an annual event which has been running since 2005 building up to the 150th anniversary of the publication of the story next year. For this one day, which this year falls on Saturday 5th July, venues across Oxford put on events including talks, tours, music, mad tea parties, storytelling, exhibitions and other Alice- related fun which you can read about on the Story Museum website ( and in the special Alice Day newspaper edition ‘Frabjous Times’, on sale at the O3 Gallery.

This year, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the creation of the original manuscript (“Alice’s Adventures Under Ground”), Alice Day will be looking at all things ‘Underground’.

Urban Wildlife II by Patricia van de CampAs such, the O3 Gallery will be hosting ‘Underland’, an exhibition with a young female character as protagonist and which invites the viewer on a journey into a dark world of unlikely characters, bewitching and beguiling, inspired by ancient mythology and historic folklore. ‘Underland’ presents an alternative wonderland, showcasing the work of artists such as Deborah Parkin (Hiding Not Seeking), Vikram Kushwah (The Dark Room) and Patricia van de Camp (Urban Wildlife II) and many others who have been inspired by the notions of childhood, animals and the folkloric genre of fairy tales.

'Hiding not Seeking' by Deborah ParkinOn the day itself (Saturday 5th July,11.30am) storyteller Vergine Gulbenkian will be coming to the O3 Gallery to narrate ‘The fruit that couldn’t ripen’, a tale from Armenia set in the underworld. Gulbenkian has been working on the craft of telling traditional tales since 1991 and has an M.Phil from Oxford University in storytelling amongst Armenians.

Last but not least, the O3 Gallery shop is filled with Alice-related gifts; all of them designed and crafted in the UK. Some highlights include teacup necklaces by designers ‘And Mary’, Alice inspired artwork by Adriana Peliano, and Alice illustrated wallets by ‘Sweetly Wrapped’.

By Lydia Wright

The O3 Gallery Shop
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Julia Brow CropIt’s the final week of O3 Gallery’s current exhibition, ‘Lo-Fi, a Celebration of Creative Analogue Photography’; a group show featuring the work of 10 different photographers. The exhibition is set across 3 venues; The Jam Factory, the Old Fire Station and of course the O3 Gallery.

As the exhibition draws to a close, we interviewed another of our exhibiting photographers, Julia Brow. Julia is a USA born, London raised student studying Geography (BA) at University College London. Before starting her degree Julia took a gap year, spending three months studying photography at Art College followed by four months travelling, much of which was documented on analogue cameras. Julia describes her interest in photography as mostly artistic, it is the experimentation that she enjoys which applies less to digital photography, and hopes to pursue it further, perhaps post degree.

How does it feel to be part of the O3 Gallery’s Lo-Fi exhibition?

I’m very excited about it. This is the first time my artwork has been exhibited in a gallery and everyone at the O3 Gallery has been so friendly.

As one of our younger artists, with digital being the dominant medium, what drew you to work in analogue photography?

I’ve always been attracted to film photography; it has a sense of nostalgia about it. When I was 15 I found my mum’s old SLR in a drawer and started shooting with it and I haven’t stopped since. I like the anticipation you get from waiting for your film to develop, especially when you’ve been experimenting with it as I often do. Film has a quality that just can’t be replicated in digital photography, even when using Photoshop. That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for digital photography and its instant gratification, I just prefer to use film.

Do you draw influence from any particular artists or photographers?

I admire a number of different artists and photographers. I like the work of the French street artist JR, who takes photographs and blows them up to huge sizes and pastes them on walls and so on. I’m not sure if I’m influenced by anyone in particular – I get ideas from what I see in galleries, museums, books, while browsing online and through experimentation.

You used some pretty unusual techniques both during and after the development of your films, could you explain what they were?

In my Beirut photomontage, I’ve experimented with forced light leaks on redscale film, which is like normal colour film that is exposed on the wrong side. This was following some accidental light leaks which I liked the look of, as they appeared to ‘set fire’ to the images. Luckily, I didn’t completely overexpose the film!

Some other experiments I’ve done involved treating the film prior to using it in a camera. My photomontages ‘Hard-Boiled’ and ‘Par-Boiled’ were created by soaking the film in bourbon whiskey and boiling water, respectively, before use. The different treatments (others included soaking in vodka and in lemon juice) had weird and wonderful effects on the emulsion and the colours of the film. When I took some of my ‘chemically-treated’ rolls to the lab, the technician told me to try using a hair-dryer to create colour casts, so I did that next. I’m always looking for new experiments to try; it’s part of the fun of shooting on film rather than digital.

Julia Brow piece

Beirut; light leaks on redscale film

Does the cost of processing film from analogue photography ever make you want to go purely digital, or does the result compensate the extra expense?

Analogue photography is expensive, but it makes you value each shot more. When you take photos on a digital camera, you might take thousands and never look at them again, whereas the limitation of having only 24 or 36 shots makes you consider more before taking a photo. Saying that, I’ve been known to be quite snap-happy with my film and then have to wait for ages to develop them as my (student) budget won’t stretch to developing more than a couple of rolls at a time! Investing in a decent negative scanner has been a good way of cutting costs for me.

I previously had access to a darkroom and it was great, it really cuts your costs and you have much more freedom to experiment with printing processes such as using liquid light. I miss it

You have used a variety of analogue cameras throughout your work, was each used for a specific reason or as a matter of experimentation?

I always shoot my ‘chemically-treated’ rolls of film using my Olympus Trip, given to me by my sister and my brother-in-law. It helps me tell the difference between the effects on the film, as everything else is kept the same.

Otherwise, I just change camera for the sake of it or for experimentation. I have a collection of about twenty or so inexpensive cameras, either plastic toy cameras or vintage. My favourite is probably my Canon AE-1 SLR. I love the distinctive ‘Canon cough’ it makes when the shutter button is pressed, although it’s not very helpful when you’re trying to be sneaky!

Many of the photos are from far-off lands, do you always travel with an analogue camera or is digital your go-to?

I usually bring a couple of different analogue cameras with me when I travel for flexibility: a toy camera or disposable when I’m worried it might get damaged, plus an SLR for all the other times. Sometimes I bring a digital camera along as well if I want to take more photos than I can afford to take on film, usually my GoPro. Last year, I went travelling for four months and had to restrain myself to about 10 rolls of film, so I supplemented with digital.

And finally, if you could only use one camera for the rest of our life, what would you choose?

Probably my Canon AE-1, it’s pretty reliable and I don’t expect to ever get bored of using it!

For enquiries about Julia Brow’s work please contact O3 Gallery:

T: 01865 246131

To find out more about the current exhibition, visit O3 Gallery or keep an eye on our social media channels:

Twitter @o3gallery

Facebook O3Gallery

Matt Strong himcropO3 Gallery’s current exhibition, ‘Lo-Fi: a Celebration of Creative Analogue Photography’ is a group show featuring the work of 10 different photographers all working with film (not digital) cameras. The exhibition is set across 3 venues in Oxford; The Jam Factory, the Old Fire Station and of course the O3 Gallery.

London based graphic designer Matthew Strong is one of our featured artists and his piece; ‘From England to India’ is a photographic montage from his travels across the world, and features photos from Spain, Portugal, Turkey, England and India all shot on his Lomography Holga camera and a variety of films.

We asked him some questions to get his thoughts and feelings on the subject of analogue photography…

How does it feel to be part of the O3 Gallery’s Lo-Fi exhibition?

Feels great thanks, very exciting. I’m proud to have been selected for the exhibition. After many years, I’m slowly starting to get noticed, which is the hardest part for anyone.

You describe yourself as a graphic designer and seem to create work in a whole plethora of mediums. Do you see your photography as a part of, or separate from, being a designer?

My photography is definitely part of me and my job as a graphic designer. I have quite often over the years used my own photography to complete design projects. I use the rules of basic design when I am out and about with my camera, and I think that does reflect in the imagery I shoot and what I’m looking for.

The piece on display at the O3 Gallery is titled ‘Various from England to India’ and was shot on a Holga CFN. Do you often travel with an analogue camera such as this or do you use it only on certain occasions?

There was a stage when my Holga was with me on all my trips, I found it such a funny looking and basic camera, but I knew it could produce interesting photographs and has a big cult following. I’ve had many analogue cameras since I was a child, and I’ve had great results over the years, but I’ve also wasted a lot of film; it’s expensive. So more recently, mainly due to a lack of funds, I haven’t used my Holga as much as I’d like, which is a shame. Over the past year a friend gave me some very expired ProVeliva and Agfa 120 film which came back great, and then the Lomography Lab gave me a pack of four 120, which has given me the buzz again for the Holga. I still have six rolls of expired 35mm film in my fridge, and I carry a camera of sorts with me 99% of the time, just ask my son!

matthew strong_small

What is it about lo-fidelity, or analogue photography that appeals to you? How would you compare it to digital?

If I choose to shoot on film, it’s because I love a surprise and the quite often unpredictable results. I get the films developed as soon as I can after I’ve shot the rolls, and I go to collect them from the lab with the same enthusiasm as a kid opening a packet of collecting stickers for a football album, to see if I have any of the ‘shiny ones,’ the ones you know are good, have worked out well, and will be popular. Film Photography is one of the few luxuries I allow myself to indulge in; for some people its classic cars, for me its film photography. I’m not a film snob though, the world’s big enough to support film or digital photographers, and time after time I have stuck by the belief that it’s the end result which is the most important thing, regardless of what you have shot it on. Just because you have shot it on film, doesn’t mean its going to be a good photograph, and likewise, if you have a few grand’s worth of kit hanging from your neck, it doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t know how to use it. You have got to have the sensibility to see things, and to see them quickly. I approach the editing and post-production of film and digital photographs in the same way, and that is whatever works best for any particular image, usually its very minimal colour correction and nothing much else

Due to the wide spread availability and continually falling prices of digital cameras and the relatively low cost of printing photos, including from home, in comparison to the time, expense and effort of getting a film developed, analogue photography has fallen somewhat by the way side, what do you think the future might be for lo-fi techniques?

I feel it’s good, that apps like Instagram, Snapseed and VSCO exist. These are all web based digital photography apps that mimic film stocks, analogue cameras, and popular lab techniques, such as cross processing etc, which if used right can really make your images look like it was shot on film in the first place, and we all know about Photoshop and Lightroom for desktop computers. These apps may seem odd, and they no doubt cause endless boring arguments in photography forums, but at least they are keeping film photography alive, in a way, and are more accessible for the average photographer, who may then go and shoot some real film from what they have learned from the press of a button, and that can only be a good thing. I fear that film photography or lo-fi techniques will unfortunately get more and more obscure as the years go by, which will them make it more expensive and in turn become unaffordable for the average person. Which all saddens me, as one day I think that the new generations of budding photographers out there may not get that chance to feel the magic of the unpredictable.

For enquiries about Matthew Strong’s work please contact O3 Gallery

T: 01865 246131

To find out more about the current exhibition, visit O3 Gallery or keep an eye on our social media channels:

twitter @o3gallery

facebook O3Gallery

For more about Matthew Strong visit:


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