Gilbert Townshend

(b. 1988, London, UK)


Contact


Qualifications

2016 - Foundation Fine Art from City Lit

2011 - Degree in Graphic Design from Camberwell College of Art (UAL)

2007 - Foundation in Graphic Design from London College of Communication


About

I studied graphic design at Camberwell College of Art. It didn’t end up proving to be very productive but I have since belatedly realised that while I was there I spent far more time in the darkroom and photographic studio than I did designing things. I made a few very simple websites for people after graduating (and eventually, this website). I decided I didn’t like being in front of a computer all day and was not at all good at finding clients so I stopped trying to be a web designer/developer. I then worked on a couple of tv shoots as a camera assistant and ended up selling apple juice at a farmers market for years. I did another, much better fine art foundation at the City Lit in 2016 and enjoyed making things again.

Aside from photography I’m also dipping my toes into the world of dramatic short film making and enjoy taking apart machinery to see how it works and how to modify them. I’m currently working on building a new instant camera.

I’ve done a lot of life drawing in the past, play the guitar and know how to both knit and sew.


Process

I take photographs, mostly with film cameras, though it’s really more about the image than the technique for the most part. I do enjoy the physical nature of working with film and paper though. I’m teaching myself how to better print my own (monochrome) work and applying to Masters courses to study Photography and hopefully move on to doing colour.

I never stopped or came back to it, it’s just always been a thing I did to greater or lesser degrees. I learned to use and print from film when my mother showed me as a child and I inherited a few film cameras. It just seemed like the right thing to do to use them again. Mainly due to cost I develop and scan everything myself (including colour).

It takes a great deal of skill as a photographer to have a whole methodology and understanding of productive working method. In my own personal work I’m still trying to find what that is, though the more I do it the more I learn about what does, and conversely does not, work. I strive to go out and find interesting objects / people / buildings and frame them the best a way as I can. Sometimes it works, often I wish I had done something differently when I look back on the work.

As a mini project in 2020 I am taking a photograph every day, as encouragement to go out and see more of the world.


Influences

The biggest influences in my work are people who are not immediately reflected in what I produce.

I very much admire the work of Bridget Riley, Robert J. Lang and M.C. Escher for their mathematical elegance and purity of form in other mediums.

The opulence and elegance of the Vienna secessionist movement as typified by people like Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele made me appreciate the ornamentation of human form; John Coplans and Benoit Courti showed me how photography could show humans in ways I had never considered.

Surrealism in Georgio de Chirico, Max Ernst and René Magritte to name but a few showed me how to appreciate the weird and the humour in art as well as just how much personal perception shapes artistic enjoyment.

Dan Flavin, James Turrell and Fischli & Weiss amazed me with installations based on light alone and how much you could shape a space by changing what you get to see of it.

Issey Miyake, Aitor Throup, Gareth Pugh and Lee McQueen opened my eyes to just how experimental and wonderful fashion can be, despite the haze and weirdness that surrounds it all.

In more traditional photographic fair, I was introduced to the masters of 20th century photography as so many are via Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Diane Arbus. I got excited by less famous people like Frank Habicht and Akihiko Okamura who showed me both about cultural revolution and the strife in conflict.

As for those living and currently making work those influences seem to change all the time. Some of the people I have been enjoying lately however include: