LANCASHIRE MONOCHROME :

THE STORY SO FAR

The formation of Cotswold Monochrome was an inspiration, to my knowledge the first group of its kind and I was keen to follow in establishing a similar group in Lancashire. I remember our first meetings well, with up to eight of us gathered in the lounge of one of our number, David Flemming ARPS, who became the Group’s Treasurer. One of our first actions was to co-ordinate the sending of a box of prints to the Cotswold Salon, four of us going down the M6 to attend its opening. We had a warm reception and were able to bring back valuable information on how they had organised themselves.

We realised almost from the outset that Lancashire Monochrome would be a quite different group from those Cotswold pioneers. The administration of an open, competitive exhibition had little appeal to us and we concentrated our minds on ways of sending prints outwards, rather than drawing them inwards, and especially for showing at venues where photography had not previously been shown on public exhibition. Early on one of the most unusual venues used was the trailer of a vintage Marks & Spencer delivery vehicle displayed in the British Commercial Vehicle Museum in Leyland. The trailer was beautifully crafted in fine wood and converted well into a display space for around 20 framed prints. Another unusual offer to exhibit took the form of a connecting hallway, between Reception and the Gymnasium, at the 5* Mercure Bolton Georgian House Hotel. Regular, changing displays of 12 prints have been shown by individual members of Lancashire Monochrome ever since. That size of exhibition is not too daunting for a first experience and the opportunity has been much valued.

In February 1997, the Group held its first all-members exhibition at South Ribble Museum, Leyland. David Hunt, Keeper of this small museum, is very supportive of visual art groups and Lancashire Monochrome has been a permanent feature in the museum’s annual programme with a display of around 80 prints. In March 2014, the exhibition also toured onto the Lytham Heritage Centre. This option to show work framed or unframed opens up wider opportunities and, from 2004 onwards, the all-members’ exhibition was framed giving the opportunity for it to tour, in whole or in part, to other venues. For three consecutive seasons we exhibited framed work at the Leeds Photo-visual Centre in Manchester and unframed work at the Preston Maritime Festival. The latter, themed to the Festival, earned the Group prize money of £175 in each of the three years and this we re-invested in picture frames. We were able to acquire a total of 64 frames, 47 being used mounting an exhibition in the café at Leighton Moss Nature Reserve in 2002. Some members have borrowed frames for solo shows and an additional 13 were purchased in 2003 to enable Geoff Davies to hang a 60 print exhibition of his humanist landscapes in association with the Museum of Lancashire’s exhibition ‘Grin up North’. The Museum of Lancashire offered several other members exhibition opportunities and I was always appreciative of their enthusiasm for showing the medium of photography to the public.

The regular monthly meetings, using the first Monday evening of each month, are devoted to the informal showing of individual members’ work. Showing is entirely voluntary and, whilst some are more regular providers than others, we always seem to have enough work to discuss through from 7.45pm to about 9.45pm. Using the middle part of the evening allows us to draw on a wide geography for membership and, for a whole year, we had two new members drive across from Halifax (their endeavor leading on to them founding Yorkshire Monochrome). Print racks are a boon and allow close-up scrutiny of all work discussed in the more traditional way throughout our evenings. The racks also enable temporary exhibitions to be mounted such as that offered in September 2004 as part of the Southport Model Railway Exhibition where the theme ‘Powerhouse’ attracted substantial interest from visitors to that weekend event. The March and November meetings depart from type to make way for a keynote speaker – someone who will inspire us into new ways of thinking about the monochrome medium, or just simply inspire us! My thanks to keynotes: Colin New(2 keynotes), Hugh Milsom, David Herrod, David Briggs, Chris Ward, Andy Biggs(3), Paul Hill, Paul Kenny, John Davies, Leigh Preston(3), Pete Davis, Andrew Foley, Grace Robertson, Gus Wylie(2), Trevor Crone(2), Craig McMaster, Richard Sadler(2), Peter Paterson, Roy King, Daniel Meadows, Andrew Sanderson, Denis Thorpe, Trevor Griffiths, Ian Beesley(2), John Bulmer, Guy Brown, Simon Denison and Richard Denyer (Eamonn McCabe is being approached in respect of the November 2015 Keynote and Gus Wylie will be coming in March 2016).

 

Membership has grown from that original eight to more than 30 since our inaugural meeting on 1st April, 1996. Many new friendships have been made and small projects shared. Looking back, I’m glad that I was part of the formation of Lancashire Monochrome – it is very much a complement to camera club membership and a rich source of expertise for the latter to tap into. Once-monthly meetings, formerly at the Leyland & Farington Social Club but, from 5th December 2011 onwards, at the nearby RAFA Club adjacent to Leyland Railway Station have proven, with just enough time in between to produce new work for show and far enough apart to make each one something to look forward to.

The regular monthly meetings, using the first Monday evening of each month, are devoted to the informal showing of individual members’ work. Showing is entirely voluntary and, whilst some are more regular providers than others, we always seem to have enough work to discuss through from 7.45pm to about 9.30pm. Using the middle part of the evening allows us to draw on a wide geography for membership and for a whole year we had two new members drive across from Halifax (their endeavor leading on to them founding Yorkshire Monochrome). Print racks are a boon and allow close-up scrutiny of all work discussed in the more traditional way throughout our evenings. The racks also enable temporary exhibitions to be mounted such as that offered in September 2004 as part of the Southport Model Railway Exhibition where the theme ‘Powerhouse’ attracted substantial interest from visitors to that weekend event. In March and November extra, all-day meetings depart from type to provide for a Keynote speaker – someone who will inspire us into new ways of thinking about the monochrome medium, or just simply inspire us! My thanks to keynotes: Colin New(2 keynotes), Hugh Milsom, David Herrod, David Briggs, Chris Ward, Andy Biggs(3), Paul Hill, Paul Kenny, John Davies, Leigh Preston(3), Pete Davis, Andrew Foley, Grace Robertson, Gus Wylie(2), Trevor Crone(2), Craig McMaster, Richard Sadler(2), Peter Paterson, Roy King, Daniel Meadows, Andrew Sanderson, Denis Thorpe, Trevor Griffiths, Ian Beesley(2), John Bulmer, Guy Brown, Simon Denison, Richard Denyer, David Kirby and Eamonn McCabe. Gus Wylie will be returning as our keynote in November 2016.

Membership has grown from that original 8 to 30+ since our inaugural meeting on 1st April, 1996. Many new friendships have been made and small projects shared. Looking back, I’m glad that I was part of the formation of Lancashire Monochrome – it is very much a complement to camera club membership and a rich source of expertise for the latter to tap into. Once-monthly meetings, formerly at the Leyland & Farington Social Club but, from 5th December 2011 onwards, at the nearby RAFA Club adjacent to Leyland Railway Station have proven, with just enough time in between to produce new work for show and far enough apart to make each one something to look forward to.

For further information about Lancashire Monochrome, including how to become a Member, see: www.lancashiremonochrome.co.uk

Keith Launchbury FRPS
President

Last updated March 2016.

 

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