As part of our ongoing programme of commissions, we’re excited to announce that we’ll be working with photographers Alison Baskerville and Karren Visser this year.
P.M.T 2018 © Sabiheh Awanzai
Alison Baskerville is a West Midlands based artist and documentary photographer, who is a current resident artist at Grand Union gallery studios based in Birmingham.
As a female former-soldier-turned-artist, Alison has a rare insight into gender and conflict. She has a desire and capacity to make exciting and creative work that reflects on important contemporary issues such as gender equality, military occupation, female identity in the forces, and the long-term consequences of armed conflict. Alison also consults as a high risk safety trainer and runs personal safety and emotional resilience training for freelance photographers. She is the founder of the safety training movement ROAAAR and co-founded Powering the Matriarchy Together (P.M.T), Birmingham’s pioneering festival celebrating women – cis, trans or femmes and non-binary people. She is also the recent recipient of a Developing Your Creative Practice grant from Arts Council England to explore film processes and photographic-based research and create a safe place for researching personal memories and archives which will require reflection on her military past to enable her journey as a more critically engaged artist.
ROAAAR is a personal safety initiative which provides training and connects other aspects which effect both our physical and mental wellbeing. ROAAAR explores personal safety measures for women (cis, trans or femmes) and the courses provide practical skills to develop your own personal tool kit, allowing attendees to feel safe. Her work with ROAAAR will inform her commission with Multistory.
Sandwell Visually Impaired Tour of Blast! Festival © Michael Landelle
Karren has been meeting and working with community organisations in preparation for her commission, such as Sandwell Visually Impaired (SVI). Recently, as part of this preparation, she coordinated a photography workshop with SVI to explore the psychology of sight loss for people with a range of visual impairments. As a person with sight-impairment, Karren has found her other senses are filling in the missing pieces, and it is this shift that she hopes to explore through a collaboration with Multistory, and the sight-impaired community of Sandwell.
SVI is a user-led, non-profit, voluntary organisation and registered charity. The workshops were supported by an Open Access Award from Creative Black Country as part of the Creative People and Places scheme.
“Sight loss affects how we see ourselves as our independence diminishes and people’s response towards us changes. This loss is never static and fluctuations in sight are largely unpredictable, and that in itself makes for daily adjustments on our part. These can influence the choices we have to remain active and to feel part of our local community. Some of us may withdraw in an attempt not to be a burden to family members or friends. The attitudes towards our sight loss – even those that are well-meaning – may result in us portraying ourselves differently in comparison to the person that we still feel we are inside.” – Karren Visser