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LOOK Photo Biennial 2022: Climate 

The North West photography festival opens its first chapter with local and international participatory photography projects.

LOOK Photo Biennial 2022: Climate 

by Culture Liverpool

Since 2017, LOOK has been delivered by Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool. Each biennial, LOOK has partnered with local and international artists to explore variations on a theme with the programme acting as a stage for sharing ideas and operating a cultural exchange in dispersed venues and locations across the North West.

The LOOK Photo Biennial 2022 theme is ‘Climate’, building on from Open Eye Gallery’s ten week long exploratory LOOK Climate Lab which took place between January and March 2022. For the lab, Open Eye Gallery invited researchers, artists, academics and visionaries to take over the gallery and use it as a lab space, showing work in progress, inviting the public to engage via workshops and talk through ideas to tackle climate change. LOOK Photo Biennial 2022: Climate is formed from partnership projects and ideas that began as micro commissions, community projects and research ideas during these LOOK Climate Lab. It aims to explore the agency of people within a sometimes overwhelming climate emergency, maximising the accessibility of photography to transcend languages, borders and cultures.

Mariama Attah, Open Eye Gallery Curator says:

LOOK Photo Biennial 2022: Climate focuses on themes of climate change and environmental issues. Within this we are exploring how we use photography and visual culture as a way of understanding the past, present and future impacts of the climate crisis on communities, audiences and people around the globe. The featured projects shape solutions, share ideas, and document innovations, from the local to the global, and from the individual to the collective.

We hope the Biennial prompts questions and reflections and encourages visitors to make links between the everyday and the overview, to understand the ways they may personally be affected but most importantly to consider ways in which we can positively engage and advocate for change.

The first chapter of LOOK Photo Biennial 2022: Climate brings together photography students, artists and practitioners who have engaged in participatory photography projects exploring a changing climate. Their work will be displayed in five exhibitions across four different cities and towns.

Liverpool

Open Eye Gallery (14 July – 4 September) opens up all three galleries to a host of work that follows on from the LOOK Climate Lab 2022. In Gallery 1, there will be the ongoing photography projects On The Ground: The Story of Trans-Nzoia Through the Trees and Tree Story – A History of Liverpool City Region Through Its Trees, two projects which explore the importance of trees and community in both Kitale, Kenya and Liverpool, UK. On The Ground is the work of a two month residency in the Kitale forest by photographer Frederick Dharshie Wissah, depicting food and water insecurity alongside the local communities aiding in preservation and conservation. Tree Story is a collaboration between Open Eye Gallery, dot-art, and Mersey Forest, who invited the public to create a history of Liverpool through its trees using personal stories and photography. The work has been created in collaboration with photographer Andy Yates. Gallery 2 presents Other Lines, stills and moving image work by David Kendall using thermal imaging and SMART phones to visually research air emissions produced by industrial landscapes, such as oil refineries,  in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.

There is also photographic work sourced through an open call which asked for images responding to themes of energy, materials, transport, or non-human animals. LOOK will showcase Hellen Songa’s Mwalula, a photography project produced while Hellen visited their father Chileshe’s home country of Zambia after 23 years of separation. Despite the differences in location and culture, both reconnected on their similar interests in farming; in particular, Mwalula Green-Life Farm, a plant-based, organic farm bought and ran by Chileshe and directed with Hellen. Mwulula will be facilitated by Groundworks to show in several public settings –  Faiths4Change, Hope Community Garden, Friends of Everton Park and John Archer Hall.

Open Eye Gallery will also be showing Hellen’s Volunteer Voices: Liverpool Food Growers Network, which exhibited at the LOOK Climate Lab 2022 and exhibited in several public locations. The portraits are a visual display of 100 volunteers involved in community food growing across Liverpool. Descriptions alongside the portraits highlight the positive benefits individuals get out of volunteering and that these projects have on local nature.

St. Helen’s

The World of Glass (30 June – 21 July) exhibits “Before it melts into solid”, a collaboration between the artist Andrew Broadey, photographer Kevin Crooks and students from Carmel College. LOOK will see students Mali Cooke, Robert Scott, Marija Liunaite, Jon Gonzales, Grace Sabatina, Nicole Szadkowska and Ella Askew display their visual research using archival imagery from the industrial North West to speculate how images can guide us to navigate the ecological crisis.

Chester

In charity shops Save The Children and ShareAid (8 July – 5 August) University of Chester students present “Mend It Yours”. The project aims to inspire sustainable practices of mending and upcycling to return worth to waste textiles as response to the photographic project The Slum Studio, exhibited in Open Eye Gallery’s exhibition Follow The River, Follow The Thread. BA Fashion Design students Rebecca Porter, Saviour Jaffier, Kerrigan Collins, Natasha Rowland, Marta Castro Permuy, Louise Morgan, Jessica Rimmer, Sophie Pomfrey, Diane Maccabe and Katriona Heritage created clothing from second hand materials from Chester charity shop, while BA Photography students Simon Hyde, Anna Carter and Emily Johnson captured responsive photographs of the process and finished garments.

Manchester

The Potting Shed, RHS Garden Bridgewater (28 May – 27 August) is host to the participatory project Planting for the Planet – a collaboration between RHS and Gwen Riley-Jones. As Socially Engaged Photographer in Residence with University of Salford Art Collection, Riley-Jones teamed up with RHS Communities and youth environment charity Action for Conservation to explore art, nature and climate change. Participants worked with photography, including plant based methods, to explore natural environments, connections and nature-based solutions to climate change.

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