Case Study - Lee Garson

Emerging Visual Artist Bursary 

Photographer Lee Garson applied for funding to research and develop his photography practice in Aberdeen by experimenting with materials including different types of photographic papers and digital printing techniques.

You can check out Lee's work via his portfolio

Lee is a photographer, working in digital photography, documentary, street photography and portraiture. Within his degree from Duncan of Jordanstone Dundee he completed a foundation course that had also included sculpture and printmaking. These disciplines also inform his practice. 

Lee had recently completed the Sustaining Life as a Creative (SLAAC) program facilitated by Creative Learning Aberdeen. This program had helped to focus and hone his creative practice. 

“The SLAAC program helped me to realise everything that had gone before in my practice. It made me realise I wanted to bring an element of sculpture and printmaking back somehow to where my current focus of photography practice was. But I knew I wanted to do it in a practical way, so by making something physical instead of just digitally showing and editing images.”

Following some previous unsuccessful award applications, The SLAAC program also provided him with help to form artist statements and write funding applications. Additionally, Lee took up the opportunity to have a drop in one-to-one help him with structure of his VACMA application.

Lee worked hard to use these development opportunities to successfully apply for the VACMA so he could start to experiment with different materials and apply installation and elements of sculpture back into his practice. 

Lee applied for funding to research and experiment with materials including different types of photographic papers and digital printing techniques and with other materials such as Perspex, woods and LED lights to make prototype sculptures that could then be developed further into forms for installation pieces.

“I wanted to make lightboxes. I had the idea to use these lightboxes in different interesting geometric shapes to make an installation. I was turning the lightboxes into sculptures. My photographs were to be placed in the different shaped lightboxes which were to echo the urban environment they were to be installed back into.” 

He found the making of the lightboxes a learning curve. He developed his skills in using a variety of materials and in problem solving due to the lightbox shapes and angles. 

He says,” During the practical research phase I learned how to build the lightboxes, determining what materials and correct paper should be used. Furthermore, I went on to create different shapes out of these materials to build lightboxes that I felt evoked the urban landscape.” 

The VACMA allowed him to find more interesting ways to present images which combined the mediums of photography and installation art that evoked classical cinema, science fiction, and questioned how we interact with or perceive our built environments.  

From his research on this project, Lee discovered many new contemporary photographers. “These artists proved to be very influential to my practice, particularity when conceptualising the installation aspects of the project in the form of prototype lightboxes.

The funding was fundamental in helping me to gain a much better understanding of digital printing techniques and processes.” 

Lee feels it has also helped him with his photography practice, “I’m now more open to different ideas and experimenting.” And he has gained confidence with his hands on practical making skills. 

Lee also received Mentor support through the VACMA funding program. A series of mentoring one to ones had a significant impact of his project and longer-term practice: 

“Going over ideas with Mandy really helped. It was good for helping with confidence, getting the go ahead for ideas made me realise my ideas or methods wouldn’t be a waste of time.”

“Getting a VACMA has given me the confidence to apply for further funding including creative funding and in writing other funding applications.”

“Keep applying for those awards, be persistent and you will get there.”

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