Exhibition // Advertising photographer STAK showcased by LCC’s Jo Hodges

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Image courtesy of STAK estate.

Images by advertising photographer and LCC alumnus STAK, whose work included the ‘shaken not stirred’ print ad for BMW, are being shown in a retrospective exhibition at the College in September.

To find out more about STAK’s career and the significance of London’s 1970s and 80s advertising landscape today, we spoke to LCC’s Creative Practice Director Communications and Media Jo Hodges.

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Creative Practice Director Communications and Media, Jo Hodges.

Jo, can you tell us how the concept for this exhibition first came about?

I was the Course Leader of BA (Hons) Advertising and was very fortunate to have very brilliant and well-connected students. One student, Karen Hernandez, had connections with the owner of STAK’s estate, Maria Frangeskides, and came to me asking if we could exhibit the work.

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Image courtesy of STAK estate.

STAK was an alumnus of LCC and studied photography at what was then called London College of Printing. I know STAK from back in the day when I was in advertising; just previous to my generation, he was a massive advertising photographer. So that was very interesting to me, that actually BA (Hons) Photography and BA (Hons) Advertising had a link.

Here was a person who was an alumnus in fine art photography, who then went on and became one of the renowned photographers of the 70s and 80s. I didn’t join advertising until 1984-85, so STAK’s era started a bit before my time and continued right through the 80s.

Now as a PhD student I’m looking at that era – I’m not doing photography per se but I’m looking at the image and how that changed through technology.

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Image courtesy of STAK estate.

What was so significant for STAK about that time?

STAK’s images came about at a time when technology was changing – we have colour TV, and before that we have the colour magazine, the Sunday Times.

I think the Sunday Times for this country, especially in advertising, was the turning point for lots of photographers. Here suddenly was a commercial space but also an art space to show their fantastic work, and STAK was one of them.

If you subscribed to the magazine, it would come and land on your doorstep on a Sunday, you would open it up and see beautiful photographs.

They may have been beautiful photographs of the Vietnam War – horror, but shot beautifully. Or fashion shot beautifully. Or commercials shot beautifully. And so that’s where STAK’s work came to be known throughout the country.

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Image courtesy of STAK estate.

You’d see some fantastic campaigns which he was at the helm of – Guinness, particularly. At that particular time, advertising was the space for things cutting edge.

David Puttnam was at Collett Dickenson Pearce, a massive agency at the time, and some leading lights happened to go there, including Sir John Hegarty and Charles Saatchi, and they hired STAK. They formed a nucleus.

David Puttnam later formed his own photography agency round the corner from Charlotte Street. And right next door the Saatchi and Saatchi agency opened up, all in the same building. STAK would have been in those circles where he then got his photography through.

Photography and art direction and advertising really took off, in fact they were adored. The images that STAK did really blurred the lines between what was commercial and what was art.

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Image courtesy of STAK estate.

Can you tell us more about the importance of showing this work here at LCC?

Bruno Ceschel, who’s a brilliant fine artist and also a director of SPBH Editions, is the curator of the exhibition. The original photographs are going to be on the wall, but you’re also going to be able to see the adverts they came from with text. It’s going to be really beautiful.

This is going to be a homage to STAK as a fantastic photographer, and you’ll also see how the images were used in advertising. You might like photography and dislike advertising, or love advertising but not photography. It’s great to have that at this College, because we are London College of Communication. It’s right and interesting that it should be here because the intersection of photography and advertising is fantastic.

If you’re a historian of advertising, you can actually trace where the adverts came from. And I think it’s going to be really interesting for students of the future as well, because this work was done at a time without digital technology. Digital stuff was around, but STAK took pride in doing photography which was mystery. We don’t really get to know exactly how he did it – it looks easy but it isn’t.

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Image courtesy of STAK estate.

There are some amazing images of stacks of cars – he didn’t slot them in with Photoshop, he did it somehow but we don’t know how. So that’s going to be interesting for people to look at as well.

And if you’re a student, like I am, of understanding why one type of image changes to another, then we can look at the technical processes and how they change and then the advent of the internet. The internet comes in and it changes everything again. At the disposal of the photographer and the artist and the communicator in advertising is a brand new world.

So if we look at how STAK changed the conversation, that then gives us the opportunity to discuss STAKs of the future, and the STAKs of the future – the people who are brilliant at photography and brilliant at advertising – come to this College.

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Image courtesy of STAK estate.

Is there a “STAK style”?

There’s definitely a STAK style. The STAK style actually is the 1970s and 80s advertising style, like Collett Dickenson Pearce. He did a lot of those photographs and his was the dominant style, so if you look at all the award-winning adverts of the time, they have that clear, documentary, serious feel, but with beauty as well.

Whereas before it might have been romantic and blurred and Babysham-y, now advertising became prominent, it became an authority, so the works have a look of authority about them. “Here’s an idea, and here’s the idea condensed and succinct in that image.”

Now of course the art directors and Sir John Hegarty and Robin Wight and all these brilliant people, including Charles Saatchi, had their input into the ideas behind the images, but STAK and people like him brought them to life.

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Image courtesy of STAK estate.

There is also a symposium taking place during the exhibition – what can people expect from that?

My colleague Dr Jonathan Wright is running the symposium, which is going to be looking at the exhibition and abstracting what’s in there. The call for papers is for people who want to talk about the work.

Some people are going to be doing stuff looking back on how it’s changed their practice. I’m going to talk about changing the conversation; the photographic image and its intersection with advertising changing over the 70s, the 80s and the 90s to the present day.

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Image courtesy of STAK estate.

STAK
Private View: Thursday 10 September 6-9pm
Exhibition open: Friday 11 – Monday 21 September
Monday – Friday 10am – 5pm
Saturday 11am – 4pm
Sunday 20 September 11am – 4pm (closed on other Sundays)
Symposium: Wednesday 16 September 10am-5pm

Read more about our 3 to see exhibitions opening for London Design Festival

EDIT 2.0/ What does green really mean to Craig Burston?

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Course Leader BA (Hons) Graphic and Media Design, Craig Burston.

Launching with a Private View on Thursday 10 September, EDIT 2.0/ is the second in a series of annual design publications produced at LCC. Subtitled ‘What does green really mean?’, this edition has been created by BA (Hons) Graphic and Media Design Course Leader Craig Burston.

We spoke to Craig about his creative process, cassette tape culture, and the global resonance of green issues.

Can you tell us a bit about the idea behind the EDIT publications?

The EDIT series was instigated by Dean of the School of Design, Professor Lawrence Zeegen. The first in the series was a collection of undergraduate work shedding light on the breadth of work produced within the School. A great way to kickstart the EDIT project, student-centred and highlighting undergraduate excellence.

From hereon, apart from a consistent format and ethos, each issue should be radically different in concept and content. Hopefully issue three will be as radically different to mine as two is to one. It’s a great opportunity to propose and produce work that functions outside of traditional practice-led parameters and an opportunity to work in speculative methods both in terms of concept and content.

I see EDIT as being part of a publishing tradition that uses periodicals as a vehicle to test and explore, not simply to promote or persuade.

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How did the specific concept behind EDIT 2.0/ come about?

When Lawrence invited me to undertake issue two, he was entrusting me with task of seeing where EDIT could go next. He gave me the subject or starting point i.e. green, but the perspective of questioning not presuming was my chosen position.

From that point on Lawrence gave me free reign to use EDIT as a means of reappraising and testing my research and practice methods; imposing or removing cultural parameters for example, or taking one notion associated with ‘green’ culture and running with it. I wanted to throw the bones in the air and see what I could see. To free up assumptions and to move away from presuppositions associated with the green.

I chose to start with something directly associated with green, something simple – recycling – but I wanted to test it philosophically as well as practically.

When objects are recycled, one relinquishes ownership of the object but the memory remains, to varying degrees of course, dependent on whether it’s a personal possession or dead packaging. However, if an author donates an article it can exist simultaneously in its original incarnation and its new place.

When content is repurposed for a new audience – and in some of the most pertinent examples here in this publication, the content is decades old and/or placed in a new context – it can take on even more resonance when read as part of a new artefact in the here and now.

Content was sought, sifted and selected, and then when permission was agreed for the selected content to be used, the book started to grow and the cycle of reflection upon the subject began in earnest. I wanted to act as the collector, compiler and editor and to make new narratives out of previously disconnected artefacts and content.

I should point out that as the project expanded it was vital to have a credible and critical sounding board and that’s when I invited Oswin Tickler to work with me. We have worked together on a number of projects and thank goodness he was there to throw some of the more fuzzy things into focus, both conceptually and in terms of the aesthetics of design.

I wanted to use the EDIT 2.0/ launch as an opportunity to further explore donating, recycling and editing. I also wanted to go beyond donating and recycling objects and to actually sacrifice them. You know that feeling when you give something away to charity but there’s that bit in your heart that isn’t quite ready to give the object up? That.

The exhibition will include a triptych entitled I’ve Never Read These And Neither Will You which is a response to the phenomena of collecting books for their looks.

We as designers collect books for their beautiful or radically designed covers but hand on heart, how many of them are read and their content absorbed, rather than simply collected or displayed?

You’ve mentioned elsewhere that as your research expanded, the project changed slightly – how did the emphasis shift?

I had begun the process of slowly teasing out potential content or stimuli and I was aiming to do this without too much self-conscious ‘searching’, at least to a point that timeframes and deadlines will allow. I like the idea of stumbling across interesting stuff and I wanted to trust this way of working again, at least to begin with.

The catalyst for the emphasis shift was the receiving of the first-person anecdote of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. A fortuitous conversation with a friend of a casual acquaintance in the local pub led to that being in my possession and it absolutely took my breath away. From that point, it was impossible for me to uncouple the link between green energy and energy as a means of control or conflict.

And as for global population, you only have to look at the desperate measures that people fleeing conflict will go to in their attempts to enter Europe for a more peaceful existence. Therefore, the project began as looking at the notion of green from a distance, through a telescope if you will, but it soon became a project about putting humanity under a microscope.

I am now of the opinion that it is impossible to separate something as banal as domestic recycling from something as desperately sad yet newsworthy as events unfolding on a daily basis, or supposedly unfashionable subjects such as nuclear arms control.

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Extract from EDIT 2.0/.

The EDIT series are LCC publications – how do you hope students here will benefit from this?

Within LCC and across the whole University, a great deal of time is spent exploring and working with green issues and one of my primary aims for EDIT 2.0/ was for it to function as a catalyst for further discussion and action. Hopefully that will happen.

Also, in terms of the ways in which I planned EDIT 2.0/ whilst also revelling in a little bit of happenstance, outside and above the content, I would hope that students see the EDIT series as examples of the art and design academic communities testing methods and principles and demonstrating the myriad ways in which we can practically and theoretically explore our subjects.

Can you tell us anything more about the EDIT 2.0/ cassette tape being played on the night?

Lawrence invited me to produce a publication and I ended up with a cassette tape! It came about through a number of things converging; a lifelong love of music and sound art and the opportunity to revisit technology, formats and built-in obsolescence.

Cassette tape culture is back, albeit on a niche level and in a world of downloads being replaced by clouds. Clouds are data farms, and farms typically speaking are used to cultivate stuff that is consumed. You don’t own a copy of music that you stream, it isn’t even as lovely as an object in your collection. It’s like paying for the key to the door but not the contents.

EDIT 2.0/ the cassette tape is a collection of music donated by the artists and the tape is not for sale. It is a limited edition and when they’re gone they’re gone. It won’t be streamed either, that would be rather self-defeating wouldn’t it?

Arguably I’m bound to say this but the music is superb – somewhere between background music, ambient soundscapes and reconfigured found sound – and I would be tempted to buy a tape deck to play it if I didn’t have one already. You can pick up some beauties on e-Bay for virtually nothing.

EDIT 2.0/
Private View: Thursday 10 September 6-9pm
Exhibition open: Friday 11 – Monday 21 September
Monday – Friday 10am – 5pm
Saturday 11am – 4pm
Sunday 20 September 11am – 4pm (closed on other Sundays)

Read more about our 3 to see exhibitions opening for London Design Festival

LCC MA Photography graduates exhibit in Shanghai

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Work from ‘____ In The Room’, 2015.

A group of LCC MA Photography graduates are currently exhibiting their work in Shanghai.

The exhibition ‘______In The Room’, which was partly inspired by the English idiom ‘elephant in the room’, explores issues that are overlooked or ignored, or problems too difficult to talk about. The implied elephant also ties the exhibition to Elephant and Castle and the College.

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Work from ‘____ In The Room’, 2015.

The students, who all graduated from MA Photography in 2014, thought about the phrase ‘elephant in the room’ and how it could be used to describe the conspiracy of silence. They explain “photography as a creative form not only reinforces the visibility of things, but also leads us to their invisible facets. In the works presented, the elephant has nowhere to hide.”

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Invitation for ‘____ In The Room’, 2015.

The work in the exhibition examines three sets of ideas: visibility and invisibility, surface and content, and looking and overlooking. By exploring these oppositions the photographers wanted to subvert visual habits and question social stereotypes.

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Work from ‘____ In The Room’, 2015.

We spoke to Paloma Tendero, ones of the exhibiting students, to find out a little more about how the show came together.

“The idea came in a meeting in the lead up to our graduation show. At the end of the show we had some money left over from our fund-raising, and we thought that would be best used to organise another exhibition. Many international students were from China and they were going back to their family homes at the end of the MA so we thought ‘why not organise the exhibition in Shanghai?’

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Work from ‘____ In The Room’, 2015.

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Work from ‘____ In The Room’, 2015.

“Once the show was confirmed for Shanghai our Chinese colleagues proposed to use a curator based in the city – this was more cost effective and encouraged media exposure.

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Work from ‘____ In The Room’, 2015.

“They found two young curators, Zhang Hanlu and He Yining, that are very well-known in China at the moment and who are familiar with the press. This meant that the exhibition was well publicised.

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Work from ‘____ In The Room’, 2015.

“Thanks to all the hard work of the students from China they got a really good space in V Art Centre and also secured more funding the cover any extra costs.

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Work from ‘____ In The Room’, 2015.

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“Back in the UK we coordinated the selection, collection and transportation of the work, as well as the correlation of information about the work. It has been a great experience working with my fellow graduates after finishing the course at LCC, especially on an international level. Now we are thinking of organising another exhibition next year, maybe in another country.”

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Work from ‘____ In The Room’, 2015.

Find out more about MA Photography

Watch a video of the exhibition

Magnum Photos and LCC // London Calling – Week Two

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Visitors at the British Museum’s Egyptian galleries. © Dean Berner

In the second week of our Magnum Documentary Photography course, the students have been immersing themselves in London life and developing a personal project inspired by the city. Dean Berner writes for us here about getting to know his subject: the British Museum.

My eyes have been opened.

My eyes have been opened, and I have not shut them for two weeks. I’m kidding, of course, but the word intensive in the course title was no joke. That said, I am definitely not complaining. The course has been challenging on many levels, but also quite encouraging. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

So far, we’ve had two immersive weeks of learning the ropes of documentary photography: the history of the genre and Magnum’s great impact on it, conceptualising and executing a documentary project, the wonderful world of the photobook, class and individual photo critiques, and much more.

Our personal documentary projects are taking shape, and have been equally important as the classroom learning.

One week remains in the course, in which time I will continue shooting and editing my project, come up with a title, sequence the photos, and put any multimedia finishing touches on it. We present our projects to our professors, industry members, classmates, and friends in seven days. The clock is ticking.

The brief for our project directed us to “convey a narrative about a particular geography, identity, or culture”. Both Stuart Franklin and Mark Power emphasised the importance of homing in on a specific location, so that our projects would be concise enough to cover reasonably in our course time of three weeks. For my project, I chose the British Museum.

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Approaching the British Museum. © Dean Berner

Initially, I considered several project ideas and locations, but after a class visit to the British Museum, I knew I had my place. A beautiful building where history, geography, politics, and people of every nationality merge: what more could you ask for?

One of my main photographic interests is street photography, so I took that approach to the museum; to observe the interesting behaviour of the people there. With 15,000 daily guests at the museum, there would be plenty of human behaviour to observe.

As I began, one of my main challenges was to let go of my preconceptions of what the project should be. I started out on the surface and tried to feel out the space and the light, both inside and outside the building. Most of my photos from the first day or two are of the architectural elements in the various halls.

A bit like history itself, the Museum has yielded layers upon layers of photographic fodder as I dig deeper. I began paying more attention to the waves of visitors and how they were interacting with the exhibits: some are literally hands-on, some very respectful and deliberate, and some breezing through each hall, only taking pause for a selfie.

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A visitor-packed Egyptian gallery, British Museum. © Dean Berner

On my third day of shooting at the Museum, I began to feel a sense of disorientation in the midst of the chaos. I began looking as much at the reflections in the glass exhibits as I was at the people walking by. I felt the project taking a turn of its own accord.

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Working with reflections in glass, British Museum. © Dean Berner

At this point, I will have 3-4 more visits before the end of the course. My challenge at this point is to weave together the different types of photos that I’ve made so far into a cohesive project. As I have gotten to know the museum better, I have found several locations where I have a particular shot in mind that I want to get.

Mark Power said that photography can be a lot like fishing, where you have to find the right spot to cast, and then it becomes about patience and perseverance.

With the myriad options for different shots in the museum, it initially seemed that it would be as easy as catching fish out of a barrel. The true challenge for me now is to know which ones I want to catch and to be ready to hook them as they swim by.

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Reflective experiments, British Museum. © Dean Berner

Words by Dean Berner

Read more about the Magnum LCC Documentary Photography course

Read more about the Magnum LCC exhibition

Read Sanne Derks’ Week One diary

The best new student survival tips from UAL’s Commonplace

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If you’re starting student life in September, one of the best places to go for practical tips and advice on the whole UAL experience is Commonplace.

‘A survival guide to UAL and London shared by students for students’, Commonplace covers everything from exploring London on a budget and making new friends to handling course deadlines and getting involved in clubs and societies.

As you will see below, four of Commonplace’s newest contributors are LCC students or graduates, which we think will make these posts even more useful to anyone heading for (or returning to) Elephant & Castle next month.

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Elephant & Castle. Image © Lewis Bush

What Is University Like?

by LCC student Lilufa Uddin, BA (Hons) Media and Cultural Studies

“I’m going to make it my job to tell you that university is one of the biggest investments you can make in your entire life.

It gives you the skills to retain complex information, make well-thought out analyses, reason, and stay committed to a task determinedly. So when you think about it, university sets you out to become a better and well-rounded person.”

Read the full post

Multitasking London
by LCC student Kelly Macbeth Mackay, BA (Hons) Advertising

“When you’re here, the best way to see this majestic beast of a city is to open your eyes. Walk down side alleys. Check out little churches that you see an old sign for in The City. Take a random left instead of following GPS on your phone to Topshop.

There is no real advice for how to dominate this place, but I would say that if you want to truly see what it has to offer for you, if you want to actually see and experience the rich cultural history that it has, then the best way is to explore.”

Read the full post

Don’t Be a Hermit During Your First Year!
by LCC student Tania Beck, BA (Hons) Journalism

“It is so important to socialise during your first year otherwise you will get bored. Keep in mind that the first year is the easiest so there is no excuse not to join clubs and societies. If you don’t want to join any of that, you should still get out there and explore the city.

There are a lot of places that you can go for free like museums and parks for example. Unless you are more of a solo traveller, exploring the city would be better with friends.”

Read the full post

Long Distance Relationships at University: 10 Tips to Making It Work
by CSM student Adam Willis, BA (Hons) Graphic Design

“Often when one half of a long distance relationship happens to be busy with parties or events, the other half can be left feeling somewhat alone or left out. This can be particularly frustrating when the busy half is not making enough effort to talk to their boy/girlfriend, and leaves only a vague bread crumb trail on social media.

My advice: even when very busy, make yourself take a time-out, choose a chunk of time you have free and commit to a chat.”

Read the full post

I Love South East London
by Chelsea student Alice Elizabeth, BA (Hons) Fine Art

“The thing is, South East London has a bit of a longstanding reputation. To me, Peckham was where Rodney and Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses lived, scraping a living selling rubbish at tacky markets, and Brixton was the backdrop of race riots in the ’80s. Elephant and Castle was somewhere ‘you shouldn’t go on a night out’, and Old Kent Road, well, it’s the cheapest spot on the Monopoly board so that spoke volumes.

As for Camberwell, Stockwell, and New Cross, I knew little about them, but this in itself worried me, as I hadn’t a clue what sort of place I’d be finding myself in.”

Read the full post

Everyone Is 10 Years Younger Than Me
by LCC graduate Cara Waddell, BA (Hons) Illustration and Visual Media

“Tutors will continually tell you that working is harder than university. This is a lie, university is MUCH harder, more stressful, more emotional, more personal.

You are never too old to get so stressed out you cry in front of your tutor, your fellow classmates. It’s OK. Everyone goes through a huge range of emotions, and it can help bring you closer to other classmates and help support each other.”

Read the full post

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