TALK: PAPER GHOSTS by KIM SHAW: Her inspiration and working practice
Kim Shaw in conversation with Jenny Blyth about photographs taken with a toy HOLGA camera.
Shaw’s journey with her Holga has culminated after 18 years in the Old Vinyl Factory Project. Her photographs of a disused vinyl factory explore the ‘paper ghosts’ of a once thriving industry. Whilst working on the project, she was surprised by how strongly she felt about the space – she spoke to many people who had been in the industry, ‘vinyl people’ as she terms them, and found that they too treasured and miss the physicality of albums and music in the way that she treasures and holds on to the physicality of photographs and the making of images that she perceives as objects.
Like many photographers, Shaw finds herself in an increasingly digital world where images exist on a screen, effectively in the ether. Her passion is landscape and the physicality of photography – being able to hold, to touch and feel - the process of creating an artwork on paper, and the resulting physicality of that image as an object.
The photographs in this exhibition have been made on 120 Film with a Holga camera which she bought at PNCA for $10 in the mid ‘90s. The Holga is a toy camera, made in China, entirely of plastic to include the lens. The story goes that there was a surplus of 120 Film available and that the cameras were made so that people would use up the film. They are set at F8, and have a manual shutter, so the photographs on exhibition range in length of exposure from 1/125 of a second up to two minutes. It has been perceived as trendy, used for its gimmicky quality, yet it makes a serious image through true photographic process. The qualities of Holga imagery are distinct by their vignettes – a softening at the corners of each print - and the scratches that occur naturally from the camera on film as it winds on, traits that Shaw savours.
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