Any Answers: Ingrid Pollard

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“People always assume my function is about the landscape – about Black people in the landscape. They try to push whatever I do into that will small subject area. There is certainly little close observation of what is actually in the photograph”

Ingrid Pollard was born in Georgetown, Guyana, and grew up in London, exactly where she has practised as an designer since the 1980s. After leaving school, Pollard made artwork while working several tasks, later studying at the Greater london College of Printing and the University of Derby. The photographer has developed a social art practice aligned with all the politics of race plus feminism, which also targets the medium of digital photography itself. She has held residencies at organisations across the UK and numerous collections have received her work, including the V& A in London.

I was always a good arty person. Young people find an shop for their feelings. Mine was drawing rather than writing. I actually couldn’t spell to save my life – I had undiagnosed dyslexia.

I actually grew up with family albums from Guyana and here [in the UK]. When my parents were courting, my dad made a photo album just for my mother.

It was during my geography O-levels that I took my first photographs. I used my dad’s camera. He’d always got it for parties and holidays.

I came from a working-class background. The low expectations of Black children at school compounded this particular. They didn’t seem to realize my desire to go to art college. There was no career advice.

I worked as a cleaner; worked for the council; I actually gardened; I worked as a librarian at the British Library. There was not a steady plan. But I was also drawing and having photographs a lot.

I lived within a squatting community. Someone lent us a good enlarger so I would print out pictures at home in the kitchen during the night. I went to evening classes to do screen-printing and pottery. Back then, people had interests for the fun of it, not because they wanted it to become their career.

My art practice aligned with the politics associated with race and feminism. We weren’t looking to get exhibitions at the Tate; in the 1980s, people set up things of their own. We did shows in alternative spaces – community centres, restaurants, libraries, our homes. All of us occupied spaces differently.

My practice is about photography and its background, method and material characteristics. It can take the form of landscape or another thing, but it is always about pictures. It’s an obvious thing to say, but it doesn’t get said often.

People always assume our work is about the landscaping – about Black people in the landscape. They try to push whichever I do into that small subject area. There is small close observation of what is actually in the photograph.

I went to university when I was 30. I was currently working as a photographer. I did so a film and video education. Because of this, there is a lot of storytelling in my photographs.

When you make a film, you start with a blank white box. And then you add things: light, costume, the script. Whenever I’m doing photography, I’m doing that as well.

People will certainly view my photographs depending on their life experiences – how they view photography, film and advertising. And also their relationship with Black people. People normally see the work through their living stories.

Often the text in my pictures is not an explanation of the picture. Sometimes they will act in opposition to one another because that is what life is like. You can read the text, but you also have to look at the image closely.

There are never themes in my work in the formal sense of the term. Issues I am interested in may transform over time. Positioning usually informs my photographs, whether they appear in a book or a particular exhibition room. I think more in terms of parameters.

Issues change. Many of them appear to change for the better. Some continue as they had been.

Hannah Abel-Hirsch

Hannah Abel-Hirsch joined British Journal associated with Photography in 2017, exactly where she is currently Assistant Manager. Previously, she was an Editorial Assistant at Magnum Photos, and a Studio Assistant for Susan Meiselas plus Mary Ellen Mark inside New York. Before which, the girl completed a BA of all time of Art at College London. Her terms have also appeared on Magnum Photos, 1000 Words, and in the Royal Academy associated with Arts magazine.

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