Exposure can be a fine line in modern media and in the wider art world. Underexposure; and your world remains conspicuously quiet like a church mouse with laryngitis. Overexposure; and the world’s your oyster … if I could just get the damned thing open! And an antihistamine for my seafood allergy. Or, failing that … a pram, some toys and a good throwing arm.

The Sublime Meets The Ridiculous

The highlight of my photography year was undoubtedly having an image curated for the Mobile Photo Now exhibition at the Columbus Museum of Art [CMA] in Ohio, USA. The exhibition itself proved to be critically well received and presented a significant step forward for the medium and appreciation of photography as an art form. The exhibition, co-curated by CMA and #JJ community on Instagram, featured 320 images from 240 photographers representing nearly 40 different countries.

Overexposed : The Tsunami Effect

Only this week I had another image prominently highlighted within the #JJ community.




The image is one I took of my father for the project: The Anatomy Of A Stroke. It clearly made an impact in the daily #JJ community theme: Profiles. More than 4,000 images were submitted, with 188 selected by the army of community editors. Just 4 were then selected by Josh Johnson himself and posted under the main #JJ community hash-tag.


In posting Josh added “What a powerful and gripping image Will [Gortoa, my IG pseudonym]. I’ll just leave it at that. Anything else I write feels ridiculous. Thank you so much for sharing this.”


As you might notice by the numbers at the top of that image, the #JJ community has 636,000 followers and for a few hours my church mouse stream went atomic-powered church organ! Well, all things are relative.

Within 24 hours – and an increase in my own followers of about 50 – things returned to … ruined church at the head of the dusty high street in a desert town with no name. Cue tumbleweed! But it was fun while it lasted: watching my notifications window spinning like a Vegas jackpot machine … the modern day social media phenomenon that quickly becomes yesterday’s news [or a quick whack with the Like icon and onto the next Warhol].

Underexposed : The Pram

I also recently entered an image for consideration in the Royal West of England Academy’s 163rd Annual Open Exhibition. As it openly boasts “…[it attracts] leading artists from throughout the UK, it is open to all, and often includes work by unknown exhibitors alongside well-known names.” The selection process is notoriously … robust. And photography invariably maintains quite a low profile in the final selection. I was absolutely delighted to have The Falling Leaf curated for the 160th exhibition in 2012.

This year I was determined to go with a street photography image. I was pleased to get it through the initial online selection process, before mounting, framing and crossing fingers for the final selection. The subsequent email duly arrived … Selected! I do believe I may’ve done a moderate dancing movement – for anyone who knows me, they’ll know that’s quite significant.

But then something really quite cruel happened. I was to discover another category that I didn’t even know existed …



Just a few days before the exhibition was due to open, I received another email from the RWA with revised wording: Artist Selected Not Hung. Essentially this meant that the final curation essentially lies at the hands of the hanging team. But all is not lost … because in three panels placed around the exhibition is your name – effectively hung and displayed for all to see. And quite possibly point and laugh.

Well, I laughed. But when I returned downstairs another artist had brought in a pram containing a large number of toys and began hurling them out in quite dramatic fashion.

Exposure. Whatever the outcome, I think you should probably keep your dignity and modesty covered.





Invisible Ink And Other Vanishing Stories

People used to my waffle will be excused for thinking this has mostly been written in invisible ink or, to use 21st Century parlance, invisible electrons. But I’ve just tumbled in here emerging from an inverted canopy of autumn leaf fall to enthusiastically say…

“Bringing to a close a fantastic year of exhibitions at the Royal West of England Academy [RWA], the 160th Autumn Exhibition showcases the cream of painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture and architecture, selected and curated by an expert panel from thousands of submitted works.”

I submitted three pieces of work – all of which made pre-selection. [There were also two images from The Anatomy Of A Stroke series.] I dared to dream, but was more than delighted when hearing my first attempt at entering such a prestigious mixed media exhibition – at what the The Spectator magazine labels ‘a jewel in the crown of England’s exhibiting venues’ – was rewarded by the encouraging inclusion of this image: a potential new direction for my landscape work, incorporating movement into an otherwise static scene to evoke thoughts beyond the confines of the frame, tapping in to the void between the real and the imagined.


The Falling Leaf

Varnishing Day lunch for all exhibiting artists this Friday and the Private View on Saturday evening, the exhibition then runs 21 October – 30 December 2012. [I did initially read that as a Vanishing Day lunch. Which sounded particularly intriguing!]

RWA Website

Note: Apparently includes a piece of work by Honorary RWA member, HRH The Prince of Wales. I wonder if he’ll be at the Varnishing Lunch or the Private View? And, if he his, will he recognise me?! : )