The new show at Hive Cafe in Blackpool Town Centre is up and running. Hosted by Hive Arts, Blackpool Social Club spoke to their current exhibitor Sam Wallis to find out more.

Q. Tell us a bit about you.

A. Well, I guess I’m what’s considered a mature student but regardless of the academic side of things I hold a fondness for learning. A few years back whilst on holiday, my wife Lucie had just finished her English degree and persuaded me that it’s never too late to return to studies, and since then I’ve not looked back. If it wasn’t for those conversations, I would probably still be working the occasional portrait or wedding gig, but I certainly wouldn’t have had the chance to assist international photographers such as Sean Conboy or Moy Williams.

Outside of photography I’ve always had a strong love for music, tv/film, and the natural world. I’m Blackpool born but I now live just south of the Lake District, so when time allows it, I like to venture out to the hills or coast with my camera.

Q: What influences your approach to photography?

A: My approach to photography is influenced by the natural world. From its importance and fragilities to the sublime and everything in-between. I watch a lot of documentaries that focus on environmental issues such as plastic waste, climate change, industrial landscapes etc. The interesting thing is that these things all fall under the overarching theme of the Anthropocene. This idea that mankind’s relentless drive for expansion and ‘progression’ is adversely affecting the natural world and will potentially be our undoing. It’s a bleak view but it’s backed up by science and I feel that anything I can do to instigate conversation on these topics is a positive thing for planet earth and future generations. Aesthetically I like to do things differently from what would be considered traditional landscape or environmental photography. I love creating bold images that catch the eye, inspired by artists such as Mandy Barker and Erik Johansson who have a firm eye on aesthetics. In a post photographic landscape where billions of photographs are taken every day, my intention with a camera is less about capturing a moment and more about provoking thoughts and discussion. With that in mind, not all of my work is strictly photography. It generally starts with a camera but almost always ends up being manipulated in Photoshop.

Q: Tell us about your current show at Hive and how you got involved. A: My first solo exhibition titled ‘Visually exploring the Anthropocene’ combines my previous BA project and my current MA work. As touched upon above, it’s a mixed bag of tricks. There’s some straight macro photography, Terrarum Exiguum (2022) which explores the constant battle between humans and nature. Questionable Inedible (2020) could be considered photomanipulation but is created using my own photography and looks a microplastics and their impact on the food chain. There’s also a couple of pieces created entirely from stock images, which I consider a way of recycling digital photography. I always included text with my work as I feel the viewer can always benefit from some context and I enjoy writing it. It is a must for me, to consider the environmental impact of my workflow, so my images are exclusively printed on Hahnemuhle hemp paper and backed on wood. The work on display can all be purchased and there are deals to be had on multiple prints if you send me a message. As for how I got involved, I must thank Dawn Mander and Kate Yates for being incredibly supportive, not only to me but the whole Blackpool arts scene. There have been some fantastic exhibits in recent months from a variety of mediums, such as the photography of Ian Currie and the paintings of Peter Jamieson Sinclair. After hearing great things last year, I decided to contact the Hive Arts team and it all stemmed from there.

Q: Is it important for you to show work away from traditional gallery spaces and how does it differ? A: From a personal perspective, I do make money from my art but it is not my primary intention so I don’t necessarily fit in with the way traditional galleries generally operate. That is something I sit comfortably with as I’d much rather talk to a varied demographic than someone who’s perhaps more interested in how I can benefit their sales or image. The overall theme of my work floats around the balance between the natural and the unnatural so Ideally, I’d like to begin reflecting on this in the locations I exhibit. It’s very important for local independent artists that venues like The Hive provide a non-traditional space to showcase their work. Especially post-pandemic, the arts have taken a real hit, and bands are still cancelling shows last minute due to insufficient sales. So for visual arts, having the opportunity to hang work on a wall that will see a consistent foot flow is something we should feel grateful to have

Q: What is next for you? (what are you working on) future aspirations?

A: Off the back of exhibitions at the Blackpool School of Arts and Liverpool’s Open Eye gallery I have several copies of my work ready to exhibit so I’d like to showcase it in as many places as possible. I’ve just recently paused my MA for a year to focus on becoming a father for the first time, shout out to Theodora, who should be joining us in the next week or so. The pause will give me time to contemplate what’s next artistically. I’ve recently become interested in creating moving images and rekindled my love of writing music. So, I quite like the idea of challenging myself to make my environmental art more immersive. Next year I will pick up the MA and look to exhibit the resulting work.

Q: Finally how long does the Hive show run for?

A: My current exhibition runs through till mid-October, is free to view and the venue serves excellent food and sells fresh fruit and veg. It’s well worth a visit based on those things alone. If you enjoy what you see then please spread the word or even send me a message, I love discussing photography and environmental topics.

Find out more about SAM Wallis here www.iamsam.uk

facebook/iamcsamdigitalart instagram.com

Email: [email protected]

For Hive Cafe  and Hive arts

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