Read more about our Festival history, how we are supporting our photographic community and changes moving forward.
Reclaim Photography Festival, West Midlands, was founded in the UK during 2015, following conversations with our Reclaim Photography Swedish colleagues, and subsequently led to our first international artistic project, dedicated to the memory of international Reclaim participant Goran Popović.
Our first international Festival, hosted in 2016, offered a democratic and inclusive project, free of cost or competition for all participants, by taking back art photography to our streets and public spaces during one day events. Individuals suffering particular hardships are often financially stretched or are unable to access photography competitions and exhibitions. This project offered participants an opportunity to meet, showcase their creativity and to display their work alongside our international Reclaim Photography colleagues, across five venues in the West Midlands region, in collaboration with our venue partners, in addition to local sponsorship and self-funding. To accompany the street events, we hosted a joint gallery exhibition, and the prints from the displays and gallery exhibitions were auctioned to raise funds for Ladies Fighting Breast Cancer.
During our second year, we were able to offer an electronic submission process, enabling photographers to save further printing costs. With additional Arts Council funding, we offered professional awards and a travelling gallery exhibition hosted by Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and Wolverhampton Art Gallery. We also worked with regional looked after children and St Basils charity on a special project, “A Day in the Life… Hear Me… See Me…” After the spring festival closed, we self-funded a print auction to raise funds and awareness for St Basils charity and self-funded our second autumn exhibition.
For our third international Festival, Reclaiming Our Future, we continued to self-fund the festival, with support from our venue, print and framing partners. We were thrilled to host our international exhibition alongside talks events and popup displays across the West Midlands. We were also delighted to be invited to organise a special Black Country project, Reclaiming Our Industrial Might, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Black Country Living Museum, capturing the people, places and industries, past and present, of the Black Country region. This special exhibition travelled to Himley Hall and Park during 2019. In addition, we curated a special exhibition of work by local photographers and students at the John Lewis Community Hub, organised a week-long collaboration with staff and students at Stratford Upon Avon College, and offered professional awards for some of our gallery exhibitors. Thanks to generous donations of photographic materials and equipment, passed on to regional services for looked after children and young people, they are able to continue to work on their own photographic projects independently.
2020 saw a return to the essence of the Reclaim Photography Sweden manifesto by showcasing the best in art photography. Twenty-three regional, UK and international photographic artists set out to explore the aesthetic value of Wabi Sabi through analogue, camera-less and digital photography, creating unique and limited-edition fine art prints, with an international group exhibition, Beauty in Imperfection.
During the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond, we continue to support our photographic exhibitors and community through book and project promotions via our web and online platforms. We also continue to plan future collaborations and events. In the meantime, please visit our Whats On and Blog pages.
For their continuing support, we would like to thank Ulf Fågelhammar, Mike Borg and Mattia Marchi of Reclaim Photography, Sweden.
We are also indebted to Palm Laboratory, Birmingham for providing first class professional prints for our displays and exhibitions, and to all our volunteers, past and present, who have given their time to support our Festival events.
Finally, thank you to our current festival partner venue, the Light House Media Centre, Wolverhampton; Chief Executive, Kelly Jeffs, and to all of the staff and volunteers, for hosting our international exhibitions, and for providing a wonderful experience for the viewing public.
Reclaim Photography Festival is a self-funded community arts project which offers an annual programme of collaborations, events and exhibitions, aimed at promoting art photography through inclusive projects free of cost. We encourage participation from young people and those most disadvantaged.
Reclaim Photography Festival West Midlands is not affiliated or associated with any charities, clubs, member groups, organisations or societies.
Images © Cezar Dezfuli, Passengers, 2016; Paul Biddle, Incubation, 2016; Dániel Halász, Untitled, GYDA, Uganda, 2015; Derek Man, Chairs, Newport, Isle of Wight, 2016; Molly McCall, Memento Vivere, Velvet Daydream, 2019; Phil Loach, Farming and Factories, Brierley-Hill,1976. All rights reserved.