Her presentation demonstrated how she has combined her practical and theoretic approaches to photography whilst progressing through an academic journey, exploring her own artistic development in the context of the history of photography. She is about to embark on a PhD in photography, to take this journey on to the next stage.
Maxine’s interest lies in the sphere of social history and she sees photographing places and interiors which are about to disappear as a way of ensuring a collective memory of our cultural heritage. For instance, when she realised that ‘slam door trains’ were being phased out, she developed a project in collaboration with the railway companies, to photograph both details and and contextual images of the trains. She brought copies for us of the beautiful little books she self-published, to record the project.
In other projects, on the interiors of fire stations, swimming pools and cafes, for example, she realised the importance of interviewing people who remembered them as they were, plus the evocative power of recording a soundtrack. So, we heard the echoing acoustics of the swimming pool and heard the voices of people who had used the cafe. This led Maxine to explore the potential of a multi-media style of working and she has started what may become a series, by producing a heritage trail in the seaside town of Hastings. Here, she will have the co-operation of local agencies to display artefacts alongside her photography at certain historic points in the town, with interactive displays and an opportunity for people to leave their own contributions too.
We were impressed at how Maxine has been able to pursue and develop her work, often involving learning new skills, harnessing social media and working with other teams to produce sound recordings and the technological links she has envisaged to bring her projects to fruition. Funding is a huge issue, but hopefully, success will bring more recognition and it will be easier to make progress in the future.
After the break, with plenty of time for questions and news, we heard from Susi Louard about the RPS ‘Breathing London” project, which is encouraging photographers to record the known and not-so-known green spaces across London. Susi told us of the surprising corners she has discovered, often near rivers and canals, offering opportunities for Londoners to relax, exercise or walk, in addition to the more famous, well documented big parks. Anyone can join in for a fee of £10.00 by going to the RPS website and there will be a series of exhibitions of the work produced - and maybe Susi will win a prize for clocking up the most miles!