Last night we had a talk from yet another remarkable lady photographerm Viveca Koh FRPS. She is also an amazing artist and has combined her two talents to produce unique and spectacular pictures.
Viveca started her talk by showing us that her photography started at a very early age using her Mother’s Kodak Brownie Box camera, which she still has in her possession. (As a matter of completely uninteresting fact, the same thing exactly happened to me, except that I take extremely ordinary photographs!).
Later in her life she studied art and then became more interested in photography with ‘ Street Art’ and abandoned buildings becoming her main focus.
There are a group of photographers who belong to an ‘on-line’ community known as UE (urban explorers) who keep themselves to themselves and who do not welcome just anyone to their ranks, you have to get to know a member who will ‘let you in’. This is because they discover abandoned buildings and do not want them broadcast to avoid them getting vandalised or their contents stolen! Viveca met a friend who was already involved and the pair of them work together. It is only safe to enter these places accompanied in case of accidents, (you might put your foot, or indeed your whole body through a rotten floor). Access is always made through broken windows or open doors or even through a cellar but never by actually ‘breaking in’ as this is illegal.
It was a collection of some of these images taken in such situations that Viveca used in her LRPS print submission and a year later in her ARPS panel, which we were fortunately able to see set out at the break.
We were shown many examples of pictures taken in many different types of buildings including mental hospitals (a favourite of Viveca), private houses, factories, mortuaries, and business premises to name but a few. There were objects left abandoned like chairs, beds, typewriters, cases, pictures and photographs, mirrors, bills, books, newspapers in fact nearly anything that you can think of. As the buildings had been long empty, there was peeling wallpaper, graffiti, mould, rust, broken glass and dirt generally, which put together with brilliant observation of shadows and light (often coming through holes in the roofs) in these locations, combined in an amazing way to produce the most unique images.
Having achieved her ARPS, the next challenge for Viveca was her Fellowship of the RPS. This was of course the very biggest goal as only the very best and talented photographers achieve this honour and there are very few awarded. By this time Viveca had progressed to producing even more incredible images by overlaying images (in a delicate way) of all manner of textures gathered from the derelict buildings. For instance peeling paint, rusty surfaces, printed words, and patterns from all sorts of objects. This was when her training as an artist really came to the fore picking the right overlays on the right pictures using layers in Photoshop. The results after a great deal of hard work and experimenting have given rise to the most spectacular and amazing images from which she selected her required twenty for her Fellowship panel. Her submission passed with much acclaim I am sure, and was really deserved without a doubt.
When the talk had finished, we asked questions and it emerged that her Mother is an artist and other members of her family were also into art in one way or another and this clearly has had a huge influence,
Viveca has run exhibitions of her work and regularly gives talks to Camera Clubs amongst other organisations. She has illustrated books and no doubt has further plans to develop her amazing talent.
Thank you Viveca for a truly thought provoking evening, which left us all very moved by what we had all witnessed.