Chris Leffler on ‘The Image Speaks’

Through the course of the last academic year, I had the privilege of being involved in ‘The Image Speaks‘. Collaborating with photographer Andy Brown, myself and nine other PhD students from across the Faculty of Arts and Humanities produced a series of original images that visually depicted an aspect of our research. These were curated in an exhibition in the foyer of Jessop West (opened on 22 February 2016) alongside short captions explaining their significance, and this was accompanied by a brochure containing lengthier essays on our chosen subjects.

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In my contribution, Andy and I decided to create a triptych of images based on Castle Square in central Sheffield. Our intention was to demonstrate that a diversity of memories underpin what appears to be an unremarkable tram stop; presenting the contemporary location alongside archival images of the Hole in the Road and Hyde Park flats, we sought to illustrate how multiple times and spaces are interwoven within the single site. This was expanded upon in my essay and caption, in which I used archival research and information from a local historian to complicate this story further.

I found the experience of the ‘The Image Speaks’ project highly rewarding, and not simply because of the quality of the output, for which I cannot thank Andy enough. The process of the project challenged me to work in ways that were new to me, and to present them in a medium other than the academic writing I am used to. In this blog, therefore, I want to focus less on my contribution to the exhibition (which you can see for yourself in the brochure), and more on how it has benefited my wider work.

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