Across London and beyond, artists have been displaying their work in the windows of local galleries, cultural buildings, and even their homes as part of Artists Walk 2020. The initiative was founded by Rosha Nutt and Holly Collier as a way to bring art to local communities during the pandemic, as more conventional ways of displaying and engaging with art have been made inaccessible. Alexandra Palace has been taking part, displaying the work of local artists in windows and outdoor locations across the site. Much of this work was chosen by members of the Palace’s Young People’s Programming Team, who selected their favourites from among the submissions.
Among their selections was the work of Lisa Gilby, aka Freshest Frames. Lisa is a Haringey-based photographer specialising in individual portraits and dance on-location photography. Her photographs are being displayed in the windows of the East Court, Lakeside Café, and CUFOS Community Centre at Alexandra Palace. Lisa’s work can be seen online at www.freshestframes.com and on Instagram @freshestframes
She spoke with Catja Hamilton of the Alexandra Palace Young People’s Programming Team to answer a few questions on her work, inspiration, and being a part of the Artists Walk.
How did you come to be involved in the Artists Walk initiative? I’m a member of various Facebook groups for local creatives, and it just popped up on my timeline one day and I thought it looked interesting. I was actually meant to have an exhibition earlier in the year that was indefinitely postponed due to Covid, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to display some of my images that I’d originally got printed for that!
How did you first get into photography, and which other artists and photographers inspire you most? I started getting into photography as a teenager. I used to do photoshoots with my friends in my garden just for fun. We’d dress up and get creative and just experiment. I first studied photography in Sixth Form, and then at uni, and then set up my freelance business as soon as I graduated in 2012. I don’t have a favourite photographer in particular, but I draw inspiration from Instagram, magazines, movies, and love watching tutorials on YouTube.
(By FreshestFrames of Sophie Bradbury 2)
Can you describe the work you’re displaying at Ally Pally for the Artists Walk, and tell us a bit about what inspired it? I chose to display some photographs of dancers in London locations. One image is of Emma Houston breakdancing at Kings Cross. The other images are of Sophie Bradbury leaping in the Hampstead Heath Pergola. I like to use locations to showcase the beauty and talent of dancers. I’ve also got some portraits displayed in the windows of my home studio just around the corner from Ally Pally.
How do you choose the locations? Do you find that you’re constantly on the lookout for new places? I’m always looking at locations wherever I go. If something stands out to me I’ll make a note or take a photo on my phone so I remember it when the right photo requires it. Sometimes I’ll Google locations if there’s something in particular I’m wanting, other times I create an image to go with a location I want to use. I look at what colours are in a location and how the light will hit it at certain times of the day. For dance photography, I often look out for things in the location that will enhance the dance, like a pillar to jump off or something to lean on.
What draws you particularly to photographing dancers and performers? I started photography hip hop dancers when I was working on a project at uni. I used to dance myself, so it’s always been something I’m passionate about. I wanted to create images that really showcased the talent and strength involved in hip hop dance. Unfortunately, it isn’t always looked at as prestigious so I wanted to challenge people’s perceptions of it. Since then, I’ve gotten to know quite a few London dancers, and I also shoot a lot of headshots and portfolio images for various types of performers. I really enjoy working with other creatives.
How much collaboration is there with the performers and models in your photographs? There is always a lot of collaboration between us! Before a shoot we always have a conversation about ideas (and requirements if it’s a paid shoot). It’s important to talk about it so we can bounce ideas off each other, and make sure we’re on the same page and that everyone is happy. We both bring creative ideas and what’s really important is that we bring our individual talents together to create the magic!
What advice would you have for young photographers? The best thing to do is play and experiment. See what you like and what you don’t like. Learn from your mistakes. If there’s something in particular you want to try, research how to achieve it. I’m always on YouTube watching tutorials – there are videos for all levels. Don’t let equipment hold you back. If all you have is a camera phone, use that. Shoot outside in public spaces or set up a mini studio in your home. Grab your friends for models, or if that fails try an advanced selfie! Shoot as much as possible, and when you have some examples and you feel a bit more confident then you can start charging!
How has the pandemic impacted your work as an artist? It’s been a tough year. My first ever solo exhibition was cancelled in March just days before its opening. It had been a lot of work (and expenses) getting that ready so when it was cancelled I was quite down and feeling unmotivated for a while. Photography and video is my full-time job, so it’s really impacted me financially. The majority of my clients are dancers and actors, and as the performance industry has been so badly affected this year, I haven’t had as many shoot bookings as usual. I’ve also had to close my home studio a few times to keep in line with the government guidelines, so it’s been quite tough. During the first lockdown, I decided to use my time to do an online graphic design course and now I’ve set up a second business that offers remote branding design services to small businesses (www.freshbrandingstudio.com). I’m not stopping photography by any means, but it’s good to also have a remote service I can offer as things as so unpredictable right now!
How important are cultural venues like Ally Pally for artists and the culture in Haringey? Really important! Growing up, I visited Ally Pally all the time, for exhibitions, events or ice skating. I’d go to education things with school, and even got to perform there a couple of times. I can’t really imagine Haringey without it.
What does it mean for you for your work to be displayed at Ally Pally? I’ve lived in Haringey all my life and Ally Pally was a big part of my childhood, so to have my work displayed there is really exciting. I’ve seen people looking at the displays and taking photos and it’s made me feel really proud. It’s given me a chance to showcase my work to a lot of people, and it’s really great to know people are enjoying it!
Catja is a member of Alexandra Palace’s Young People’s Programming Team which supports our Creative Learning team to plan events and initiatives. The Programming Team act as ambassadors and advisers for our youth programmes. It also serves as both a career development and mentoring opportunity.
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