Gilbert Townshend

(b. 1988, London, UK)

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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

My degree was in graphic design at Camberwell College of Art. While I was there I didn’t do a great amount of design work that I ended up being satisfied with but I did enjoy spending time taking photos and working in the darkroom.

I made a few simple websites for people after graduating but I really didn’t like being in front of a computer all day; being a web designer/developer didn’t particularly appeal to me. A few years after that I worked on a some tv shoots as a camera assistant which was fantastic but also exhausting and sadly didn’t continue. Occasionally I have helped my father who restores art and sold apple juice at a farmers market over weekends for years. I did a second, much better fine art foundation at the City Lit in 2016 and got back my love for making things after a fairly rough patch in creative terms.

Aside from stills photography a current interest is in the process of film making and documentary

Where possible I like to be practical and learn new skills, be they woodworking or programming. I enjoy taking apart machinery to see how it works, several of my cameras have been in pieces.

I’ve done a lot of life drawing and spent probably too much time learning how computers think.


Process

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Most of the images I take at the moment are with film cameras. Though it’s really more about the image than the technique, part of the enjoyment I have found with doing so physical nature of working with film and paper. The tactile quality of handling everything is something I find energising and having limitations forced on my by choices of film stock often lead to more thoughtful results.

In the past however I have taken a photograph of myself every day for six years (digitally) despite not enjoying having images taken of myself.

Some of my latest work experiments have involved both my interests in origami and photography. I have been folding light sensitive paper and projecting images onto it to create three dimensional prints.

In part because of the nature of photographic paper being either resin or baryta coated and therefore rather difficult to fold (especially in the dark), this has drawn me towards alternative and more tolerant photographic processes such as cyanotype and argyrotype as well as coating my own pre-creased paper with photographic emulsion.

My practice is still very much in a state of development. While much of what I do has been self taught through trial and error, though the more I do the more I learn about what fits my working patterns. I really thrive when there are people I can ask questions of and learn from, much of the improvement and change has come when I have found likeminded people to work alongside.

Currently I am applying for a masters in photography and working on ideas for a short film.


Influences

As is often the best way, the people who have most influenced me are from disparate artistic backgrounds. I try to keep and open mind where possible and to seek out as many different influences as possible.

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Here are some of the more immediately memorable:

I very much admire the work of Bridget Riley, Giovanni Battista Piranesi and M.C. Escher for their mathematical elegance in design and the artworks they produce(d).

Robert J. Lang, Eric Gjerde and Peter Callesen for their amazing work on origami and paper sculpture.

The Sculptural work of Alexander Calder, Takis and Donald Judd which showed me that sculpture could move and feel like more than just and object to be reverent of.

The opulence and elegance of the Vienna secessionist movement, as typified by people like Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. Schiele made me appreciate the angles 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. Appreciating the weird, the humour in art as well as just how much personal perception shapes artistic expression.

Dan Flavin, James Turrell and Fischli & Weiss amazed for their installations based on light alone and how much a space can be shaped 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.

The music of Bach, thanks to my grandmother who is and always has been a true devotee of classical music.

I was introduced to the masters of 20th century photography as so many are via Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Lee Miller. 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: