Seven

Graphic designer Rich Franks and artist Gemma Ince worked with pupils from St Michael’s CE High School in Rowley Regis to create a series of artworks inspired by photography and short stories.

The first workshops at St Michael's School, Rowley Regis
The first workshops at St Michael's School, Rowley Regis
The first workshops at St Michael's School, Rowley Regis

The pupils wanted to creatively explore how their own way of taking and sharing personal photographs might be different from their parents’ and grandparents’ generations. They considered how photography and storytelling has changed, with the decline in use and upkeep of family albums. They found that in our new era of digital photography, over 350 million photos and videos are shared on popular social media platforms each day. So images are not meant to last and to be remembered, but to be shared and then forgotten.

Preparing designs to be printed at Rope Press, Birmingham
Preparing designs to be printed at Rope Press, Birmingham
Preparing designs to be printed at Rope Press, Birmingham

Out of this initial research they developed a series of workshops exploring different ways of working with print photography and storytelling. Pupils worked with their own family photographs, discovering different kinds of stories that could be told around them. They then invited local residents to come to the school and participate in the project, sharing their own photographs and stories. The idea of Seven emerged from these explorations. Each member of the group was invited to devise a story around a selected photograph, using a maximum of seven words. The artists then supported the pupils and residents to create striking graphical layouts juxtaposing words and images, giving each story a dynamic visual impact.

Using the Risograph printer at Rope Press, Birmingham
Preparing designs to be printed at Rope Press, Birmingham
Preparing designs to be printed at Rope Press, Birmingham

For the final stage, the group visited Rope Press in Birmingham where the pupils created a series of Risograph prints. A unique form of printing, Risograph is a cross between screen-printing and photocopying. It offers vibrant colour and a unique finish.

Preparing designs to be printed at Rope Press, Birmingham
Preparing designs to be printed at Rope Press, Birmingham
Preparing designs to be printed at Rope Press, Birmingham

Seven was presented as an installation at Haden Hill House Museum in Cradley, and at the New Art Gallery Walsall.

Pupils with their installation at Haden Hill House Museum, June 2018

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