Without the University in our town, it is quite possible that this biennial photography festival would not have been based here. For four weeks over May and June 2018, the second Photoeast took place to much acclaim. ‘We know what we’re doing now’ quipped Saxmundham resident, Patron of the festival and renowned photographer, Eamonn McCabe at the launch event. The hard work of the organisers and many volunteers ensured that a full programme of free lectures and exhibitions were well-attended and of a high standard.
Over thirty photographers showcased their work on and around the Ipswich Wet Dock, utilising unconventional spaces such as Gillian Allard’s work with refugees in La Tour Café (well worth a visit for refreshment and restoration) in the empty shop-spaces below Cranfield’s old mill, exterior billboards and gallery spaces. ‘What does it mean to belong?’ was the question addressed by the contributors.
Unafraid of experimentation and new directions for photography, this year featured a camera obscura on the upper level of the Waterfront Building and a dance, video and photography performance, Carte Postale in the DanceEast main studio space.
A highlight was the showing of Mark Power’s Shipping Forecast exhibition in the Waterfront Gallery – the twentieth time it has been aired worldwide. Inspired by a tea-towel depicting the shipping areas around our coasts, Mark resolved to make photographs in every area, no mean task when some of them don’t include any coastline. This involved much travel to far-away places and the capturing of quirky photographs including an empty beach with two beach towels laid out, one in shadow, and an interior of a weather-spotting aircraft in flight over the ocean. Mark’s presentation about the show, chaired by McCabe, was equally intriguing and anecdotal.
We should be very glad that this prestigious festival is staged in Ipswich featuring top-of-the range exhibitors and academics, many of whom were present.