Photo East celebrates life in an image conscious world

PhotoEast founders Jo Bexley and Adrain Evans. Photo: Lucy Taylor

PhotoEast founders Jo Bexley and Adrain Evans. Photo: Lucy Taylor

PhotoEast made a huge impression when its inaugural event took over Ipswich in 2016. Two years on, it’s back with an even more ambitious programme. Arts editor Andrew Clarke spoke to organisers Adrian Evans and Jo Bexley about this year’s event based on the Ipswich Waterfront

PhotoEast on the Ipswich Waterfront. Sian Davey: Portrait of Martha Photo: Sian Davey courtesy of Mi

PhotoEast on the Ipswich Waterfront. Sian Davey: Portrait of Martha Photo: Sian Davey courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery - Credit: Archant

PhotoEast, the month-long celebration of photography and reprographic-based art, is back in Ipswich with a feast of exhibitions, workshops and events to inspire and dazzle.

Based on the Ipswich Waterfront, but encompassing the whole town, PhotoEast is bringing the work of over 30 globally-renowned photographers, including those locally-based or with a link to the region, and inviting them to stage work in gallery or pop-up space down by the former Wet Dock and marina area.

This second photography festival is being produced by PhotoEast in association with the University of Suffolk,and will be looking to create exhibitions in formal settings and in pop-up settings where members of the public can just encounter pictures as part of their busy day-to-day life.

Co-curator Adrian Evans said: “We will be installing work in gallery space, shipping containers, cafés and outdoor billboards along the Waterfront. To give this year’s programme it’s own sense of identity, the festival is being co-curated by Financial Times Director of Photography, Emma Bowkett, along the theme of Belonging.”

PhotoEast on the Ipswich Waterfront. Andrew McConnell - Astronaut sign near the Soyuz landing area,

PhotoEast on the Ipswich Waterfront. Andrew McConnell - Astronaut sign near the Soyuz landing area, Kazakhstan Photo: Andrew McConnell/Panos Pictures - Credit: Andrew McConnell/Panos

Festival organiser Jo Bexley added that the theme could be interpretted in any number of ways: “The theme is not a restrictive barrier on what can be shown, rather it is a creative spring board to inspire and provide a cohesive structure to the event.”

The 2018 edition of PhotoEast sees Mark Power’s ‘Shipping Forecast’, exhibited in the University’s Waterfront Gallery. Adrian describes the show as an ode to the BBC’s eponymous radio broadcast and a uniquely British institution. “These haunting images take us to the places behind the familiar names – Biscay, Viking, German Bight – and serve as a physical reminder of our isolated, island existence.”

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If the Shipping Forcast is an exercise in revealing out national indentity then Sian Davey’s beautifully tender portrait of her step-daughter, Martha, is something much more intimate and personal. It’s a series of images which chart a girl becoming a woman. Jo adds: “This is a record of a teenager’s struggle to find a sense of belonging within her family. We take a look at a girl within her group of friends and within herself, it is a relationship laid movingly bare.”

From the USA, Matt Eich reaches delicately beyond the stereotypes of a post-industrial poverty-stricken community in the Appalachian mountains to portray a people who proudly cling to family, community and land with an admirable tenacity despite their circumstances.

PhotoEast on the Ipswich Waterfront. MarkPower 1 - German Bight Sunday 27 August 1995 Northwesterly

PhotoEast on the Ipswich Waterfront. MarkPower 1 - German Bight Sunday 27 August 1995 Northwesterly veering northerly, 5 to 7, decreasing 4 for a time in east. Squally showers. Good. Photo: Mark Power/Magnum Photos - Credit: Mark Power/Magnum Photos

Closer to home, Daniel Meadows will take visitors on a journey back in time. In the spring of 1972, Daniel rented a disused barber’s shop in Greame Street, Moss Side in Manchester’s inner city and opened a free photographic studio. The result of this photographic experiment is a timeless record of a diverse, vibrant and integrated community which was unceremoniously demolished alongside their homes as part of Manchester’s urban regeneration.

In her own response to the question of what it means to belong, Giulietta Verdon-Roe takes visitors coast-to-coast along the seemingly arbitrary line that divides England from Wales and Scotland, examining the physical landscape that plays a part in shaping who we are as individuals and as a ‘nation’.

Meanwhile Ipswich-born photographer Julian Germain returns to PhotoEast to curate a scrapbook exhibition that explores the tribal allegiance of the football supporter. Drawing on photographs, memorabilia and testimony from Ipswich Town Football Club supporters old and young, ‘The People’s History’ celebrates the heritage of ITFC in the town, from the FA Cup Final win in 1978 to the present day.

Award-winning photographer David Titlow also comes home to Ipswich for the launch of his exhibition ‘Eyeball’, featuring the calling cards and portraits of a pre-internet community – CB radio hands.

Exhibiting alongside global names in the world of photography will be the work from four teenagers from Suffolk and Norfolk. They were selected from an impressive bank of submissions by art and photography students from across the region’s colleges and schools.

Their prize is a bespoke professional mentoring programme and the opportunity for work experience at London photography agency Panos Pictures.

PhotoEast will include the work of the University of Suffolk’s final year Photography students. Their end of year show will be on display throughout the Festival in the University’s Waterfront Building. It will showcase a body of work encompassing a broad range of subject matter and approaches to photography ranging from landscape and portrait including new methods to digital practice.

A graduate of the University’s Photography degree, Melissa Belton, set up PhotoGrad, an online platform documenting the journey of photography graduates from UK based courses. PhotoGrad will be showing some of the developing practices being explored in photography currently as part of the Festival following the theme of Belonging.

Saturday May 26 is the main event day on the Ipswich Waterfront, with opportunities for all to immerse themselves in photography and participate in a variety of photographic events. Talks by world-leading professional photographers such as Tom Hunter and Mark Power will be hosted by Eamonn McCabe and will run throughout the day at the University’s Waterfront campus. A family trail kicks off from the Jerwood Dance House, which also plays host to a unique collaboration between choreographer Tim Casson and local photographic artist, Bill Jackson.

New for 2018 is PhotoEast’s Open Call Instagram competition #ibelong18. Images uploaded on the festival theme will feature in a live gallery at and a selection of lucky winners will have their work exhibited in the ‘On the Fence’ exhibition by Cult Café on the Waterfront throughout the month-long festival.

Adrian Evans, director of PhotoEast and Panos Pictures who are supporting the Festival said: “We are thrilled to be returning to Ipswich for a second time and are confident that PhotoEast 2018 has something for everyone with an interest in photography. It is a privilege to combine high calibre globally-recognised photography with the work of practitioners, students and enthusiasts from closer to home. This year’s festival is bigger and better than the first in 2016 and is bringing us a step further towards our goal of establishing putting Suffolk on the map for photography.”

Mark Edwards, Associate Professor and Course Leader for BA (Hons) Photography at the University of Suffolk added, “PhotoEast this year promises to bring a varied and interesting programme of events, talks and exhibitions to the Waterfront; there is something for everyone. We are fortunate in Suffolk to have some of the very best photographers and the Photography degree at the University nurtures future talent which will be expressed through the students’ End of Year show.”

PhotoEast Festival runs from 24 May to 24 June 2018. For more information about PhotoEast and to keep up to date with the Festival programme visit