Joanne Coates photography is a visual dance with self-doubt, both poetic and practical. The exhibition explores mental health in our society through imagery, translating visual stories that lie somewhere between myth, reality and the everyday. Her work seeks an intimacy with the viewer, and invokes a feeling of attraction with place. It focuses on social issues inherent within British culture.
"Liznojan means to learn whilst following a track. This series allows for a new experience with nature to take place through the activity of walking. Both poetic and ambiguous in nature, the work channels larger issues though avoiding the grand narrative. Walking across the North of England East to West in a search for unbeing".
SFUK: Tell us a little about yourself and your background in photography.
JC:I'm Joanne Coates a Photographer based between the North of England and the Northern isles of Scotland. I graduated from the London College of Communication in 2015. I've been working as a freelance Photographer for a year and a half in Amsterdam, Australia, UK and soon Poland. First interested in story telling and documentary photography, I went to study which looking back was both detrimental and beneficial to my practice. I have issues with what Photography is capable of, with Documentary projects, who they benefit and why we are fascinated by certain issues. Is it just a innate human drive to hold a fascination and awe with terror? After for many years dreaming of becoming a documentary photographer I find it fascinating the ethical questions and morals behind it, I look to a new mode, a new way, a visual mode of story telling.
SFUK: Why do you shoot film, have you always shot film & do you switch between digital and film?
JC: After a slight obsession with disposable cameras as an eight year old, I started using film in my first year of University. I feel more comfortable using film and like the aesthetic, however I would like to make it clear to people looking to get into Photography use whatever. Do what feels right for you, don't be put off by expensive equipment, there are so many talented people out there who feel limited by this. I felt it a lot at university with the masses of middle class students spending thousands on degree shows. Don't. Use what is right for you and go do that project.
For commissions I use what people will pay for. I would 100% rather use film but it depends on so many factors. Sometimes I find it hard to use film, a hand held rolleiflex doesn't seem to be the best choice of equipment at three am in the depths of the North sea on a trawler in a storm so then I use digital. It doesn't bother me.
SFUK: Who inspires you, any favourite people or places you frequently go to for inspiration?
JC: Writers mainly. From the Folk horror of Ben Myers, to the passionate embrace with nature of Robert Macfarlane. I grew up with Dostoevsky, and Murakami. The taught me how through telling a story a person can make a comment, can make someone feel, to form connections and evoke empathy and understanding. I look at nature as a source of inspiration. Visually there are so many talented photographers working out there but a few favourites would be Peter Fraser, Alec Soth and Paul Graham. There are also a few photo books that I've really bee interested in recently Astres Noir being one and the other being The Restoration Will.
SFUK: How would you describe your style of shooting?
JC: The word shooting for me is the antithesis of what I do. It's filled with emotion and feeling, when the camera feels secondary that's when it starts to feel right. It's an emotive response to what I'm seeing and feeling rather than a fight to get the best shot. For me I would think, 'What's the point' what does that image say, why did you take it? I always question who I am in the situation, my relationship to that particular setting, landscape or person. There are so many photos of people just turning a cruel eye on the world, and it just enforces stereotypes. Surely in that case you should ask yourself why it is you personally would want to take that image alongside the ethical responsibility you harbour not only as a photographer but as a person.
SFUK: If you could have any camera in the world, which would you choose and why?
JC: I'm not too concerned with camera types. I used to use my rolleiflex obsessively but I had a point where it needed to get fixed and I went on with a cheap 90s canon. What I realised is its more about connecting and whatever allows me to do that I'm happy with using, if that's large format, medium format, 35mm or even an iphone. There are so many limits and constraints put on us as Artists and Photographers it's great to break out of that and use what you have. Obviously like most people a Mamiya 7 would be on the wish list but at the same time it's a really tired aesthetic.
SFUK: Do you have any plans for your next project?
JC:I started a new project last January called We Live by the Water. I've just been out working on the project for the past month and will continue to do so throughout 2017. It's a new direction, looking both inwardly and outward. Combing the two to make a comment about the way we think and live.
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