It’s here! Round three of our deep dive into the minds of our favourite people at 1000 Trades. Here’s what happened when Nicola Shipley, director of Grain Photography Hub, dropped in for a schooner.
Q: Hey Nicola, thanks for coming in. As the name goes, we’re obliged to ask: what are you drinking?
A: Hi, thank you for inviting me. I actually rarely drink alcohol, I drink far too much tea!
Q: In that case we’ll put the kettle on. While we wait, tell us how your love of photography first came to the boil (see what we did there?)…
A: I’ve been involved in photography commissioning, curating and producing photography projects and exhibitions, ever since I graduated. But it wasn’t until 2010 that I began to specialise and focus on the art form. I was seduced by photography having worked with some great collections and practitioners.
I’m not a photographer and don’t own a camera. I think of myself more as a facilitator. I confess I do own a small collection of antique cameras and viewers and as with most people I enjoy snapping away with my phone.
Q: Not so much behind the lens, but behind the person behind the lens. What’s Grain all about?
A: Grain Projects was established to benefit photographers and communities, enabling new work that explores identity, representation and collaboration with engagement at it’s heart.
I’m the Director, supported by a great team of associates and freelancers, an Advisory Group and our main project supporters and partners Arts Council England and Birmingham City University. We collaborate with galleries, museums, libraries, community groups, festivals and other photography networks across the region, nationally and internationally.
We support regional photographers and those from outside the region to make work here with communities. We’re committed to artists’ development and offer support for photographers and artists to develop their practice.
Q: Wow! A pretty huge spread of collaborators, events, and individuals. Do any commissions stick out in the memory?
A: It’s so hard to choose. Photographers we’ve commissioned have worked with Syrian refugees, prison inmates, young women, school children, asylum seekers, service users and people affected by fracking policies – to name but a few. Photographers have also tapped into the amazing and rich archives and histories of our city and region, which tell a story of place and heritage.
Q: And the tea arrives just in time! A picture is worth a thousand words, so it’s natural you’ll find Photocafe at 1000 Trades. What’s it all about?
Photocafe is a social, monthly gathering and informal meet-up hosted here in the bar. It originated by two fantastic Birmingham based photographers Andrew Jackson, Attilio Fiumarella – and myself! It’s a network where photographers of all abilities and those interested in photography can meet, share work, ideas and develop photography in Birmingham and the region. We’ve got some great speakers, too.
Q: We’ve talked a lot about photography, now here’s the curveball. If you could pick one of a thousand trades, besides what you do now, what would it be?
A: Objects and history continually fascinate me and so I love the Jewellery Quarter, it’s a special place. If not a jewellery maker then someone who designs and fabricates, with one eye on the past for historical inspiration and one on the contemporary.
Q: That’s one of the most considered responses we’ve had! You’ve got us feeling all wistful for JQ heritage. Work your magic on this one – What do you love about 1000 Trades?
A: I love the atmosphere, which is always friendly, warm and convivial. I always really enjoy the food and music but most of all I appreciate and support the sense of independence. It’s so refreshing to be in a great pub with friends and colleagues that is unique and has soul.
No photos while we’re blushing, please. Photocafe takes place every month, this month on Wednesday 27th February. More details via Facebook.