First off could you introduce yourself and what the PH Space is all about?
My name is Kuba Ryniewicz, I am a traveller and a dreamer. I studied Philosophy in Poland and Photography at Northumbria University in Newcastle. The idea about PH Space came when I worked with a great friend of mine Charlotte Gregory on an international show examining shared heritage in Malaysia. This project was part of Asia-Europe Foundation / Singapore/ youth program. For that exhibition we had to make too many compromises. The best proposed body of work for the show was based in a Tibetan refugee settlement in India. However, we were not able to use these photos. Despite difficult ethical issues around this show, our friendship and desire evolved into the idea to open own exhibition space. This process gave birth to PH Space. We felt that contemporary photography and post-photography aesthetics are not well presented in the North East of England. The main aim of the gallery is to promote, exhibit, discuss and re-examine photographic practice. PH successfully obtained funds from Ideas Tap and great support by The NewBridge Project to grow and develop potential.
How is the photography / gallery scene in Newcastle?
Newcastle is a welcoming and encouraging environment to support emerging artists. The recent city council cuts in the culture sector also trimmed the wings of the artists in their natural progress of emerging in the local scene. Although there is a wave of optimism through the city such as NEPN / North East Photography Network /. They are based in Sunderland but host a rising number of events across the region including Newcastle. NEPN recently set the benchmark with “The Social: Encountering Photography” festival across the North East. It brought a lot of national attention and good vibes.
Did you receive any funding for the project and how did that come about?
As mentioned above, the beginning of PH Space has been greatly supported by The NewBridge Project – they offered us a space and helped a lot with putting everything together. We were successfully awarded a starter grant from London based organization Ideas Tap. The latest projects are supported by the Arts Council England.
Your recent show ‘PRECIOUS LITTLE DIAMOND’ features work from a number of well known global artists. How did you get in touch with these guys?
Apart from PH Space I also work for the Polish magazine Kwartalnik Fotografia and I am a freelance photographer; I find this helps me to make new contacts. Some of the artists in this show I know in person, others I truly respect. Last year I was assisting Estelle Hanania in one project and after that I felt inspired to do something myself. While curating this show I felt that is crucial to contact and speak everyone individually about the progress. The idea for the show came from a book I got in a second hand shop in Poland. This book tells a number of stories about ordinary people who found treasures or relics from deep pasts in casual environments such as backyards, basements or graveyards. Around this time I was asked to send a proposal for the first edition of the festival with the theme of “Social”, so right away I thought – why don’t to link these ideas together, give everyone a map, a torch and let everyone participate in the show, by finding their own Precious Little Diamond.
Do you feel modern (aka Internet Generation) photographers and artists are a little more relaxed with their work and where it is shown?
I would say they’re definitely more relaxed. A lot of new work appears everyday on tumblr, flickr or instagram and that is great. Everyone is a photographer and a curator – it’s easier then ever before to design your blog or stream of photos. Online galleries are an amazing phenomenon. Although, finding a decent solid project from emerging artists which is ready to present in the gallery space is a bit trickier. New photography creates, exactly like in the fashion industry, trends and these are changing fast and will be even faster in the near future. Curatorial work is also changing, it is becoming more challenging and that’s truly exciting! Again, with the experience of the latest show I am more convinced that the physical contact with photography as objects is the most honest way to explore the medium. What are your plans for the project moving into 2014? There are two plans: the first is to show Precious Little Diamond in other UK cities. I am looking for opportunities to present it sometime soon in London. Regarding PH, I have few big photo trips planned for the first part of 2014, but after that there will be number of solo shows of emerging artists. In the meantime we started research on a bigger collaborative project about natural resources…
Anyone you wish to thank? So many! Definitely every artist who agreed to be part of Precious Little Diamond, great audience, volunteers, Jon & Georgi and last but not least Will Strong, Amanda Ritson and Carole McKay.
Precious Little Diamond: Photo Treasure Hunters @ The Social/The NewBridge Project, Oct 26 – Dec 6
Aurélien Arbet and Jérémie Egry • Estelle Hanania • Ola Sliwczynska • Peter and Andrew Sutherland • Nicolas Poillot • Jim Mangan • Bridget Collins • Kuba Ryniewicz