Roger Coulam (Sunderland) - “Grains of Sand”
The meeting of 2nd November brought us a speaker who challenged our very notion of photography as well as showing us some awe-inspiring images far beyond anything we would normally expect to see. Roger Coulam (www.rogercoulam.com), a professional photographer from Sunderland, began by immersing us in the maelstrom of extreme weather conditions, such as tornadoes and lightning storms across the mid-west plains of the USA. The incredible threatening storm cloud formations verged upon the abstract, a theme he would return to later in his presentation. Some of the images were taken during wind speeds of up to 250 mph and it was amazing that anything could be photographed at all, let alone in any safety, in these conditions. Roger emaphasised his interest in the pursuit of natural boundaries; in the USA it was at the meeting of the sky and the land.
Back home in Sunderland it was illustrated at the junctions of the sky and sea and the sea and land, including waves as monumentally impressive as had been the tornado funnels on land. Boundaries were also a theme in his candid street photography of people, mainly around Sunderland, with characters largely unaware of their private boundaries being tellingly explored by the camera lens. The literal tidal wash of the crowd leaving a football match, blurred by movement, was one of many telling images. Perhaps the most unique photographic approach that Roger showed us was in dispensing with a camera and lens altogether. Natural objects captured as pictograms on photographic paper flashed briefly with light showed undreamt of patterns.
The same concept was then explored with found objects, including flotsam and jetsam from beachcombing, illuminated and captured as images on a flat-bed scanner. Fragments of leaves and petals and fungal spores produced intricate abstractions. Arrangements of honesty seed cases were made on the scanner platen to produce telling artistic images. An arrangement of squirrel skulls prompted a question concerning their provenance, to be met by the disarming revelation of eBay! Although the audience was encouraged to question and interact throughout the talk, by the end we were dumbstruck and overwhelmed by the amazing images we had been shown. We were left with the conviction that this was a speaker and presentation that would live in our memories for some considerable time to come.
Our next presentation on Wednesday 16th November is by natural historian and illustrator Ashley Booth – everything from pond life to raptors.
We meet weekly at Southey Street Methodist Church Hall, Keswick CA12 4HH, at 7.30 p.m. and visitors are always sure of a warm welcome to come along.
Keith Snell PhD AFIAP LRPS PPSA, Chairman