Chris Oldham a Sculptor and photographer from Stoke, who graduated in Fine Art Graduate at Staffordshire University, is a featured artist at London Road Festival this year. We asked him to tell us about his photographic art work for the festival.
I grew up living in West End, Stoke and know well the streets that feature in the London Road Festival Open Air Gallery. I wanted to show a different perspective on a familiar landscape. The theme of the festival ‘take another look’ works well for me as the pictures I make are all about seeing with a new perspective. The digital composites I make are multi-layered collages into which I build visual journeys or mental puzzles. My pictures ask the viewer to spend time reading the images and decoding the clues to the locations in the pictures or be absorbed in the shapes, textures and spaces inside the images.
The artworks are a surreal dreamlike interpretation of the architecture of Stoke with its stylish Victorian buildings and rows of terraced housing that go on forever. Through the use of mirroring in some of the images we get a glimpse into the in-between spaces where the pictures join together, here a Psychology thing happens and we start to see images conjured from our imaginations and viewed from our individual cultural experiences. In a mirrored tree picture I see fairy folk and the face of the messiah, in the street pictures I see giant bugs and aliens, different people might see something different, that’s part of the fun of making pictures.
As an artist a lot of my work is about building great big sculptures from willow trees that you can go inside and experience the sculpture surrounding you, with the pictures I am still building an environment but it exists as a visual space that you explore with your mind and imagination.
I run a community arts company called Willowarts, building environmental art sculptures in woodlands and green spaces; we have worked with the National Trust, English Heritage, with Museums, cultural and educational centres nationwide.