Riposte Presents...
Ways of Looking

4th October 2016

Last week we hosted our September edition of Riposte Presents at the beautiful Town Hall Hotel. For the evening we invited four super talented women working across a variety of creative disciplines to talk us through their work. The line up included photographer Francesca Allen, set designer Sarah May, illustrator Laura Callaghan and art-director Charlotte Heal. Each woman took to the floor to talk us through their creative processes, how they approach briefs, where they look for new ideas and how they execute them across a range of mediums. It was a fascinating evening of inspiring talks. The evening was supported by Johnnie Walker.

"Free of inhibition and

First up was Francesca Allen. Francesca’s work has a very beautiful, free feeling to it. She manages to create dreamy images that evoke a sense of girlhood regardless of age or gender. Her images are free of inhibition and self-consciousness, the people she photographs seem utterly comfortable and confident through her gaze. She spoke of how she shoots on film because of theintimacy it brings as she explained that the person you’re shooting really needs to trust you as a photographer when you’re shooting on film and this brings a closeness. She talked about the bind of being commissioned for commercial work where she’s asked to recreate the atmosphere and aesthetic of images she shot with her sister–who she has known all of her life–with someone she has only just met on set. Endearingly honest and up front it was easy to see how she manages to put the people she works with at ease to get the best out of them on film.

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Our second speaker of the evening was set designer Sarah May. Sarah’s work is a riot of texture, colour and bold ideas. She talked through the evolution of her work from early commissions up to more recent pieces. It was fascinating to see into her sketchbooks, to see her thought processes and also to hear how the process of experimentation is so key to testing out ideas in the physical realm to push forward her own practice and work.

We broke for drinks at the bar where we served delicious Johnnie Walker and ginger ale.

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After the break the incredibly talented illustrator Laura Callaghan opened up about the process she goes through when creating her intricate and detailed work. From a list of words come rough drawings, sketches and then final drawings.  Her work is full of symbolism which was great to hear about including the trainers that feature in her ode to the cult of yoga and wellness. They are the Nike’s that were worn by the cult Heaven's Gate who were an American UFO religious millenarian group based in San Diego. Finally she talked about her recent solo show where she explored the vacuous and often meaningless "inspirational" quotes that clog up everyone's social media feeds. She based each new work on a different bullshit quote, commenting on the reality of the lives of women vs what we're lead to believe we can have if we just work our on "life boards" and visualise more.

"It was the raw and experimental work of designers who dared to crop bodies in advertising and art direct campaigns that didn’t feature any of the product they
were promoting"

Finally Charlotte Heal talked us through the evolution of her work from early commissions for Love magazine up to her more latest work. Charlotte talked about how the experience of working on Love magazine really pushed her design skills and the way she thought about her work more than her full term at university. She talked us through her approach to using graphic design as images showing beautiful typographical examples. Her biggest inspiration still comes from the work she saw as a younger student in the 90s. It was the raw and experimental work of designers who dared to crop bodies in advertising and art direct campaigns that didn’t feature any of the product they were promoting that still influences her work. Throughout each slide of her work there was a narrative and a well thought out concept, something she attributed to her graphic design background where you have to justify why something exists–rather than it just looking nice.

Thanks to all who came down, to our brilliant speakers and our wonderful sponsors Johnnie Walker who made the evening possible. We return at the end of October with more Riposte Presents…