Visuals: Features

Let the sunshine in

Two photographers and a geologist have joined forces to create an exploration of light and time for Scarborough’s annual Coastival arts festival.

Sol8, which is so named for the eight minutes it takes for light to travel from the Sun to the Earth, will feature a camera obscura, photography of the geology of Scarborough printed using a Victorian technique, and an eight-minute sketch challenge. It can be seen in the Gallery at Woodend, on Scarborough’s Crescent, throughout February.

The Sol8 team is photographers Tony Bartholomew and David Chalmers, and geologist Will Watts.

Camera obscura is the name for a very simple optical device which can be a box, or even a room, in which a beam of light passing through a hole produces a projected and inverted image onto a wall or a piece of paper.

Artists from Da Vinci, who used the technique to study perspective, to the Dutch masters, notably Vermeer, made use of pinhole camera techniques to produce their work. It’s also thought that John Atkinson Grimshaw, who was interested in photography, may have used a camera obscura to project outlines onto canvas of local scenes in Scarborough.

A simple camera obscura has been installed in the Gallery at Woodend, projecting an image of the skyline of The Valley outside onto the white wall of the gallery.

Tony Bartholomew says: “In these days of instant digital imaging we thought it would be great fun to take us back to the very early days of creating and recording an image.”

Also on display are images of the sandstone strata of the South Bay by David Chalmers, printed on Indian rag paper using a salt printing technique.

Visitors to Sol8 will also be invited to take up the eight-minute sketch challenge.

Will Watts says: “The challenge is simple: turn over a sand timer as a photon of light leaves the Sun and you have eight minutes to complete your sketch before that photon hits your paper. The subject of your sketch is up to you – perhaps you have been inspired by the camera obscura view out of the windows in front of you, or by the geology in the salt print. When you have finished we will add your sketch to the wall to build up a series of eight-minute snapshots as recorded by visitors.”

Sol8 can be seen at the Gallery at Woodend throughout February, 9am-5pm Mondays to Fridays, and 10am-4pm Saturdays.

Marc Chagall: artist of the floating world

Woodend is showing lithograph prints by one of the twentieth century’s great modernist artists, Marc Chagall, this month. The exhibition includes lithographs from the Bible Suite and The Odyssey of Homer (1974) and etchings from Gogol’s Dead Souls (1948) and La Fontaine’s Fables (1928-31).

Born in Vitebsk, in what is now Belarus, Chagall became a cosmopolitan European artist who formed part of the fantastic movements in art based on Paris in the early part of the century. He also worked in St Petersburg, Moscow and later in the United States.

Making Waves: Sea Swim show

There’s an old belief that, whatever you have lost, you’ll find it in the sea. We might be land-creatures but we are drawn to the water, and here in Scarborough we nestle around the sea just like, as the ancient Greeks had it, frogs squatting around a pond – always looking, always searching. So, say the Sea Swimmers, stop looking and get in; because once you’re in the sea, a sensual, spiritual and physical transformation awaits you. Co-organiser Lara Goodband says, ‘We believe swimming transforms your imagination and your body and that Scarborough’s South Bay is an extraordinary place to swim.’


The project began in spring 2011 and runs right through this year. The main intention was to get people to swim in Scarborough and then to get together to drink tea, draw, write, make music and talk about their experience.


It’s already a wild success; more than 750 people have dipped, including 250 schoolchildren. And once their creative juices were stimulated they’ve produced work that will form part of this exhibition. As John Wedgwood Clarke says, ‘This project has encouraged swimmers to explore their artistic interests and artists have been encouraged to find out how swimming might stimulate new work.’


And if you think this might be a dry community art project, then think again. The exhibition includes a stunning set of films, together with sound, poetry, photographs, postcards, diaries, and a specially commissioned wind-break and flag by Sally Greaves-Lord.

The exhibition is due to tour the region during 2012, and the swimming will resume in May through to September. The organisers hope they have started something that will continue for years to come. Taking the first step into the water is the hardest part; maybe a visit to this exhibition can be your ‘toe in the water’, and you’ll feel inspired to join in.


Sea Swim, Woodend Artspace, 6 to 24 February, Free admission

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