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Photography Oxford Festival Exhibitions Highlights Part 2


The pick of the festival  part 2 Mark Laita

This week I decided to take my time looking around the exhibitions in the centre of Oxford. The venues were not as varied as the first week as they didn’t include any of the colleges and so the work was displayed as you might expect exhibitions to be and this definitely changes the response to images. We started off at The Jam Factory. The Selektif Competition based on entries on the subject of Glass were displayed in the cafe there. This meant that it was necessary to lean over people eating their lunches, talking intently, having meetings and so was not ideal. I understand why cafes offer their walls as exhibition spaces, it gets punters in, it decorates the space but I am not sure why artists chose them as venues. Anyway I was suitably surprised at the quality of some of the images, truly there were some interesting and worthwhile photographs. There were also some dreary, obvious and uninspiring images too but that is to be expected. I liked Martin Lau’s second placed image, it’s simplicity and obscurity worked together



I also liked this by James Sutton


and this by Fred Corcoran


On another note I had been recommended the Mimi Mollica, to be found in the Boiler Room at the Jam Factory. What a disappointment, grabbed pictures, looking like from cctv of people on buses, really, seen it before, adds nothing and in my view don’t waste your eyes. It goes to show that awards, grants, exhibitions means little.

The Maths Institute has a selection of very ordinary portraits of mathematicians and lawyers, it is worth a visit however because the image quality is exceptional and there are one or two surprising and enlightening images, I particularly liked the picture of Kwame Anthony Appiah, the best in the show and the one used to promote this exhibition by the festival, here it is


Mariana Cook

Ovada has images that I suppose we would call out-takes from a cruise ship photographer. I quite enjoyed these simply because what would normally be discarded have been given exhibition status by being printed large and presented as in a gallery and so forces the viewer to look again and reconsider what makes a picture worth keeping. Frippery but fun. There is also a slightly bizarre opportunity to be photographed standing by a poster of a famous landmark with a description of what to do, here is a friend doing the Pisa


The O3 Gallery has work by two German photographers, Matthias Heiderich & Dietmar Eckell. One has buildings in bright colours and intense composition and the other crashed aeroplanes. I know it doesn’t sound inviting and there are not many pictures to look at but both are worth the effort, what effort? it is a short hop from the Ovada exhibition, if you are doing the rounds make a brief stop here


Matthias Heiderich


1000-500_b9a96e16ba1efbe04863a89265bf3f831364036459Dietmar Eckell


The snakes, beautiful, colourful, surprising, The Old Fire Station has far too few pictures by Mark Laita, in fact why did they bother with the colourful but by comparison, (it was cruel), butterfly wings, they could have doubled the numbers of snakes.





all by Mark Laita

Final stop was the Story Museum on Pembroke Street, here in a small room were about 5 or maybe 6 large prints by SUSANNA MAJURI I am not sure what to make of these, these are in part intriguing and visually confusing but at the same time beautiful and with enough going on to keep you looking. As a last stop before ice creams at G & D’s this is definitely worth the little time it takes to look at them all, unless like me you become more absorbed and stay a little longer

susanna-majuri-largeSUSANNA MAJURI


Photography Oxford Festival Exhibition Highlights Part 1- Pentti Sammallahti


Today I took to my bike to visit about half of the exhibitions on offer at the festival. I will do another half next week, I don’t want saturation I want feeding. Feeding my eyes that is. Sadly I cannot say the whole festival has so far excited me although there have been some real highlights. I did the circuit that included Wadham, Pitt Rivers, Keble, Lady Margaret Hall, Maison Francaise, Studio 45 (closed), St John’s and Art Jericho (also closed). This is not a review, nor is it comprehensive, it is just a brief opinion of some

Wadham has the exhibition Designed to Deceive This exhibition explores the photograph as construct, rather than as truthful witness, showing photographs taken with the deliberate intention or unintended result of misleading the viewer and/or distorting the meanings contained within them. Whether subtly manipulated or dramatically retouched, these images disprove the earliest view of photography as the objective representation of a scene, and the long gone notion that the camera never lies.

It is full of well known pictures that have been manipulated before Photoshop and/or manipulated the viewer by the use. Interesting, diverting, not essential.

Keble has pictures coming out of Bangladesh. As you would expect in a show that has 6 or 7 photographers the subject matter and quality is varied, honestly some of it is pretty dire, but some of it was worth the trip, certainly worth a visit although the final piece on suicide is not joyous, predictably.

LMH has the exhibition of wooden churches. WOODEN CHURCHES – TRAVELLING IN THE RUSSIAN NORTH // Richard Davies


I was not surprised to find that this was really good, so much so that until, PENTTI SAMMALLAHTI, it was my favourite. This was the first exhibition today that is printed well, displayed in frames and a serious body. The churches are charming and the photographs often quite lovely. Displayed in the chapel at LMH, propped up on the wooden pews, the pictures suited the surroundings. In some ways I would have preferred to see them properly hung on walls but needs must and I would have preferred to see them than not.

Maison Francaise has  Bernard Plossu French photographer Bernard Plossu has never been shown in Britain. The Maison Française d’Oxford will show some of the major pictures which have dotted his career, as well as new work made recently in Britain.Plossu has had an influential career unattached to any institution or newspaper, producing a constant rich stream of exhibitions and books. His manner has been to photograph autobiographically but not diaristically: he is allusive and elliptical, and his photography connects to a wide culture of literature, music and cinema. 

Poorly hung, small images in non descript frames, some interesting and engaging images and as it was on the way to St John’s worth the stop over, just. Here is a better one



So to the Finns, there are three of them, the one that you should be heading for as the absolute highlight is  PENTTI SAMMALLAHTI. I have done a little research and here is a bit for you

About Pentti Sammallahti

Pentti Sammallahti was born in 1950 in Helsinki, Finland. Growing up, he was surrounded by the works of his grandmother, Hildur Larsson (1882-1952), a Swedish-born photographer, who worked for the Helsinki newspaper Kaiku in the early 1900s. After visiting The Family of Man exhibition at Helsinki Art Hall (1961) Sammallahti made his first photographs at age eleven. Pentti joined the Helsinki Camera Club in 1964. His first solo exhibition was in 1971.

Sammallahti has travelled widely as a photographer, from his native Scandinavia, across the Soviet Republics through Siberia, to Japan, India, Nepal, Morocco, Turkey, across Europe and Great Britain, and even to South Africa.

Sammallahti’s travels and interest in fine printing and lithography has led him to publish numerous portfolios of which the largest and most well known is “The Russian Way” (1996). As a benchmark figure in contemporary Finnish photography, his work has a supernatural sense of a moment in time with the sensitivity and beauty of the world displayed through its animalistic existence. His particular use of dogs, which reflects the human existential experience, shows the shared nature of the earth with a gentle humor and fleeting attitude.

Sammallahti describes himself as a wanderer who likes the nature of the great north, the silence, the cold, and the sea. He likes the people and the animals of far off places and he records the relationships between them and their environment.

As a master craftsman, he meticulously tones his prints, which come in various formats, from 4 by 5 inches in image size to panoramas of 6 by 14 inches. In 2010 for his retrospective exhibition in Helsinki he created large format pigment prints, about 9 by 21 inches and 15 by 35.5 inches in size.

As a passionate seeker of the perfect mechanical printing method, his own innovative printing techniques and reintroduction of the portfolio form have re-awakened broader interest in published photographic art. Influenced by the idea of ‘artist books’ – individual works in which the artist is responsible for the whole: photography, the making of prints, layout, design and typography, reproduction and often the actual printing process either with the offset or the gravure method.

Since 1979, Pentti Sammallahti has published thirteen books and portfolios and has received awards such as the Samuli Paulaharju Prize of the Finnish Literature Society, State Prizes for Photography, Uusimaa Province Art Prize, Daniel Nyblin Prize, and the Finnish Critics Association Annual.

From 1974 to 1991 Sammallahti taught at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki, retiring when he received a 15-year grant from the Finnish government, an unusually long endowment, which is no longer awarded. Both as a photographer and a teacher, he has had an enormous influence on a whole generation of documentary photographers in Scandinavia.
My advice is go and see his pictures. 






Car by Pentti Sammallahti

here are some more links with information and pictures by Pentti





Photography Exhibitions Oxford September 2014

We are lucky that for the first time Oxford is awash with photography exhibitions. As a cultural city it is a constant complaint that in general photography is ignored, well not this month. The Photography Oxford Festival is now in full swing, we have reported on this many times already but as lovers of photography a wakeup call to go out and see some real pictures on walls rather than sitting at home looking at Flickr, 500px, Behance or wherever else you consume your photography, is a good thing.

The first point of call I would like to send you to is the Natural History Museum, the have the Wildlife Photography of the Year exhibition, held over for one week to coincide with the imaging workshops we are helping to run.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 Grand title winner Winner 2013 Animal Portraits Greg du Toit, South Africa

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 Grand title winner Winner 2013 Animal Portraits Greg du Toit, South Africa

The festival itself has a plethora of exhibitions, I can’t tell you whether any are worth visiting yet as I have yet to do the tour of venues and the festival website is worse than a dogs dinner for images and decent information, it might look cool like the new Windows front page on your phone but it is poor, so here I have kindly created a decent list for you but in no particular order and without recommendations. The copy and pasting of this list does not look pretty, I know, I’m sorry but at least it gives you all the exhibition info in one place so you can work out where to go on your own tour of the festival

Exhibition Title





At the Photography Oxford Festival she will show, for the first time, a recent body of work entitled Custodians. Setting out to explore the extraordinary colleges and buildings of Oxford, and to meet the “Custodians” who play a pivotal role in perpetuating these world-renowned institutions, her work reflects issues of heritage, history, and stewardship.

Joanna Vestey

Studio 45

Studio 45: 45 Park Town, OX2 6SL


The Descendants

Born out of a passion for history, this series by award-winning photographer Drew Gardner recreates portraits of some of the world’s most famous historical figures with their direct descendants. This collection of photographs takes you on a unique journey through time.

Drew Gardner

Studio 45

Studio 45: 45 Park Town, OX2 6SL


Bernard Plossu

French photographer Bernard Plossu has never been shown in Britain.

The Maison Française d’Oxford will show some of the major pictures that have dotted his career, as well as new work made recently in Britain.

Bernard Plossu

Maison Francaise

Maison Francaise, 2-10 Norham Rd, OX2 6SE


In the Shadow of the Pyramids

“ ‘In the Shadow of the Pyramids’ is a portrayal of Egypt through my own eyes. Guided by my childhood memories and a struggle to understand the country I call home, the series is a journey from 2005 to 2014 through Egypt to explore the essence of Egyptian identity in the hope of coming to terms with my own – from the time of Mubarak to the revolution and Egypt’s looming future.”

Laura El-Tantawy

Pitt Rivers Museum

Long Gallery

Pitt Rivers Museum, South Parks Rd, OX2 3PP


Broadhead’s Women 2014

ART JERICHO will present photographs by Maisie Maud Broadhead, a young London artist, in a mini retrospective of her work from the past four years, to include her new series of portraits from 2014. Last year Broadhead was awarded the Jerwood Makers Open, and earlier this year she was awarded the Brighton Pavilion Commission.

Maisie Maud Broadhead

Art Jericho

Art Jericho, 6 King St, OX2 6DF


Mathematicians and Justice

Mariana Cook’s “Justice” series explores the artist’s fascination with those people who come to feel so passionately about fairness and freedom that they will risk their livelihoods, even their lives, to pursue justice; people for whom the “rule of law” is no mere abstraction, for whom human rights is a fiercely urgent concern.

Cook’s “Mathematicians” series explores a similarly unique group of individuals.

Mariana Cook

Mathematical Institute

Mathematical Institute, Radcliffe Observatory Qtr, Woodstock Rd, OX2 6GG


Pentti Sammallahti

You don’t take photographs, you receive them,” says Pentii Sammallahti

He prefers to work during the winter months at dusk, when the light and mists create the mood he is most comfortable with. The White Sea in Russian has been the setting for some of his most memorable pictures.

Pentti Sammallahti

St. John’s College

St John’s College, St Giles, OX1 3JP


Arno Rafael Minkkinen

Returning regularly to his native Finland, Arno Minkkinen has spent the last four decades taking self-portraits of his unclothed body, rarely including his face; connecting his body with his surroundings. He eschews manipulation of any kind, insisting that what the camera sees is what the viewer sees. The results are surreal landscapes blending the human form with land and water.

Arno Rafael Minkkinen

St. John’s College

St John’s College, St Giles, OX1 3JP



Veli Granö explores themes surrounding alternative social realities in his work, posing a question of how an individual might aim to create their own reality if the one offered by the society does not seem fitting. Granö’s photographs deal with deviant individuals, or situations, that do not conform to the accepted social norms, standards and expectations.

Veli Granö

St. John’s College

St John’s College, St Giles, OX1 3JP


Defying the Laws of Gravity

This exhibition will explore how the way of seeing through Bangladeshi eyes is contributing to this change. Nurtured by a growing confidence, an intellectual integrity and teachers with international perspective -many of them household names in photography – Pathshala students are developing a style particular to Bangladesh.

Shahidul Alam, Abir Abdullah, Anisul Hoque, Taslima Akhter, Tushikur Rahman, Sarker Protick & Jannatul Mawa

Keble College

Keble College, Parks Rd, OX1 3PG


Document Scotland

Scotland today stands at a decisive moment in its history.

Events in 2014 will shape how we relate to our neighbours and to the wider world. The exhibition ‘Document Scotland’ believes that photography can and should play a central part in documenting this epoch. The curators hope to leave a visual document, a testimony to the extraordinary times we are living in.

Document Scotland:

Colin McPherson, Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, Stephen McLaren, and Sophie Gerrard

Wadham College, Squash Court

Wadham College, Parks Rd, OX1 3PN


Designed to Deceive

This exhibition explores the photograph as construct, rather than as truthful witness, showing photographs taken with the deliberate intention or unintended result of misleading the viewer and/or distorting the meanings contained within them.


Wadham College, Chapel

Wadham College, Parks Rd, OX1 3PN



The American, Mark Laita, has been photographing snakes for more than a decade. Few species of snakes have eluded his lens.

Mark Laita and Yann Layma

Old Fire Station

Old Fire Station, 40 George St, OX1 2AQ



Yann Layma was attracted to creatures that fly rather than slither. A chance meeting turned the young Layma into the disciple of a leading entomologist who taught him all there was to know about these beautiful, delicate creatures.

Bus Stories

A crowd of loners; a bus filled with people each looking at the floor, at sights running past windows, at the ceiling, but never at each other. We are all sitting on the same bus, perhaps we all travel in the same direction, we sit next to each other; it does not mean though that we are together.

Mimi Mollica

Jam Factory

Jam Factory, 27 Park End St, OX1 1HU



Explores our relationship with photography as keepsake; the image as a record of experience or repository of memory in the light of the 21st century’s accelerated means of production and consumption of photography.

Clarita Lulic + Various


OVADA, The Warehouse, 14a Osney Lane, OX1 1NJ


Inside Mugabe’s Zimbabwe

In Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, journalists are an endangered species.

His regime has bombed and banned newspapers, blown up radio stations, confiscated transmission equipment, kidnapped and deported foreign journalists, arrested, locked up, and beaten local journalists. Knowing all this, Hammond still undertook his mission to give a voice to the voiceless through his lens. And he has paid the price – harassed, interrogated, imprisoned.

Robin Hammond

Magdalen College

Magdalen College, Grove Auditorium, Longwall St, OX1 4AU


Susanna Majuri

Susanna Majuri’s photographs are an exploration into photographic fiction as a place for encountering emotions, both positive and negative, with references to storytelling, literature, music, and folklore. Elements recognisable from storybooks merge with our own memories creating a dreamlike atmosphere.

Susanna Majuri

Story Museum ‘Safe’

Story Museum, Rochester House, 42 Pembroke St, OX1 1BP



“Restwert” brings together work from two contemporary German photographers, Dietmar Eckell and Matthias Heiderich. The exhibition includes a selection of pieces from Eckell’s long-running project “Restwert” which examines the residue of human occupation in and inscription onto the landscape.

Matthias Heidierich

Dietmar Eckell

O3 Gallery, Oxford Castle

O3 Gallery, Oxford Castle Quarter, OX1 1AY


Photography and Healing

Doctors asked the question “what good is photography” would have no hesitation is agreeing that modern medicine would be lost without X-rays, scans, and other imaging techniques.

Showing a patient what is going on is the best way to further understanding, and with understanding comes the mental strength that aids the healing process.

Angelino Merendino, Wendy Sacks, Jon Brett, Adam Hahn

North Wall

North Wall, South Parade, Summertown, OX2 7JN


Oxford Film Strips

David Rhys Jones uses ceramics as a conduit for his documentary photography, creating semi-sculptural works, revealing interplay between surface and image.

Port Meadow Dogs

Rory Carnegie, an award-winning documentary photographer, has created a series using photographs made on walks over Oxford’s Port Meadow, combined digitally with studio shots, to create an ethereal, painterly image.

Rachael Edgar

Fresh from her post-graduate degree, she has created a new series of contemporary work using a very early photographic process, Gum Bichromate on glass, first used by the nineteenth century pioneers in photography.

David Rhys Jones, Rory Carnegie and Rachael Edgar

Sarah Wiseman Gallery

Sarah Wiseman Gallery, 40-41 South Parade, Summertown, OX2 7JL


World Press Photo 2014

World Press Photo organizes the leading international contest in visual journalism. 53 prizewinning photographers, 25 nationalities and 151 selected pictures are exhibited here for their UK debut.

World Press Photo’s aim is to generate wide public interest in and appreciation of the work of photographers and other visual journalists.


The international jury of the 57th annual World Press Photo Contest has selected an image by American photographer John Stanmeyer of the VII Photo Agency as the World Press Photo of the Year 2013.

Oxford Brookes University

Oxford Brookes University, Glass Tank, Gipsy Lane, OX3 0BP


On Solid Ground

“On Solid Ground” tells the stories of those starting afresh in unfamiliar cities, rebuilding homes they were forced to abandon decades before, or embracing new means of survival in the face of crisis.

PANOS photographers

Oxford Brookes University

Oxford Brookes University, Garden Courtyard, Gipsy Lane, OX3 0BP


People’s Project

Oxfordshire’s demographic posits people from all over the world, so the idea of ’Home’ for some will be sensitive and complicated.

In partnership with the local press, we will publish our work to encourage the general public to respond and send in their photographs, leading up to and culminating with the exhibition at Oxford Brookes University.


Oxford Brookes University

Oxford Brookes University, Public Piazza, Gipsy Lane, OX3 0BP


Mother and Father

“Mother and Father” is a moving photo-novel of the final years of a 60-year marriage. His vision reflects the bond between his mother and father, which even Alzheimer’s cannot break. They become symbols in a story of balance and tension, which is both domestic and epic. These thoughtful, often melancholy, images form a personal piece that is simultaneously universal and timeless.

Paddy Summerfield

337 Banbury Road

337 Banbury Rd, OX2 7PL


Wooden Churches

These churches are the remnants of thousands that were built all over Russia from the time of Prince Vladimir, who, on his conversion to Christianity in 988 ‘ordained that wooden churches should be built and established where pagan idols had previously stood.’ Most of those that survive are to be found in the sparsely populated northwestern corner of Russia.

Richard Davies

Lady Margaret Hall, Chapel

Lady Margaret Hall, Norham Gdns, OX2 6QA


Why We Print this Picture

This exhibition represents a selection of photography from the charity Oxfam, starting with advertisements from the 1960s through to work commissioned this year, focused around their efforts in Africa – the region of the world that attracts the most criticism in terms of perpetuating a negative image. Through this selection we are able to witness how Oxfam’s use of photography has evolved from images of starving children to a more nuanced approach to photography in an attempt to utilise its power to create change.

Oxfam Archive Images

Lady Margaret Hall

Lady Margaret Hall, Norham Gdns, OX2 6QA


Photography Oxford Festival

I have written about this before and now there is a plea for volunteers from the organisers, so as the main place in Oxford for everything photographic they asked if we could spread the word.

The Photography Oxford Festival is being held over three weeks in 22 different locations throughout Oxford, including colleges, galleries and museums.
We are now looking for people to act as voluntary stewards over the three weeks. The main criteria is commitment to be ‘on duty’ at various locations for a maximum of  2.5 hours per day – with a maximum of 6 sessions or a maximum of 3 days, over the three-week period.. The core times are 10am – 6pm. The dates are mid September to October

If you are interested in helping then contact Priscilla Frost,    priscilla@oxconf.co.uk



Susanna Majuri’s photographs are an exploration into photographic fiction as a place for encountering emotions, both positive and negative, with references to storytelling, literature, music,and folklore. Elements recognisable from story books merge with our own memories creating a dreamlike atmosphere. Her characters inhabit a fictive place where boundaries between dreams and reality are continuously brought into question, redefined, and reinvented.


For over 55 years the World Press Photo contest has encouraged the highest standards in photojournalism.
The contest creates a bridge linking the professionals with the general public. As the announcement of the winners makes headlines around the world, so the inspirational role of photojournalism is highlighted to an audience of hundreds of millions.
The results of the 2014 World Press Photo Contest were announced on 14 February. World Press receives support from the Dutch Postcode Lottery and is sponsored worldwide by Canon.
Image: ©Philippe Lopez, France, Agence France-Presse