Jamie Glenday

Posted on 04 November 2018   Interviews, News


Hello, Jamie. It is my pleasure to talk to you as a photographer, even though you have more professional faces that directly emerge from your artistic being, such as video production, design, project development, web design … Tell us how you see yourself?

In simple terms, I see myself as a naturally curious creative interested in how my abilities can manifest. Can I paint – photograph – design – compose – produce work that looks and feels like there has been some serious learning if not university experience…I have none – I am self-taught in all disciplines. This is a test – challenge I set myself with each exploration. See attached an example of my first still life in oils – taken from a photograph I created for a friend who came to my house with gifts of fruit and vegetables – Ross had recently opened a fruit and veg shop – to escape the burden of manufacturing work creating optics for a dreadful company – we share the idea of independent paths and avoiding demoralising work experience.

So in a sense, I treat my efforts as challenges and bids for freedom – even if poverty is an outcome – to at once express myself and also contribute to a wider purpose – cause. This can be found in my site and the history of campaign work and utilising design and media for greater good.

An artist, musician, trainer, media maker and activist

“The web is where things happen,” you say on your site, and I can only agree with you. That’s why we will start from the web, but we will talk primarily about you and photography. How did you start with the photography?

I have always loved photographs and dabbled with film in my early years – especially monochrome because I could process and print but when good quality digital cameras emerged I embraced the control and freedom they offer…the frame is always about the composition – aesthetic – resonance and meaning before the medium used. Though I know there is a lot of debate about the purity of film – if you keep your process to a minimum the same principles apply. I long to work on international commissions in the way Sebastiao Salgado works but it is no more than a dream so I work in two ways – landscapes that bring a quality and presence that anyone can immerse themselves in from anywhere in the world. Not about landmarks and castles but elements and visual rhythm – the moment of light and forces coming together in visual harmony – an ode to nature humbly attempted with my eye and a lens. The other use is when I work with projects and orgs to capture their work and their people. To bring an authentic respectful reflection of who they are and what they do within the group. I use these shots to bring ownership and storytelling to their website design or campaign material.

Reach Out With Arts In Mind is an example of this (art and mental health project). As is the attached image from a campaign video MASK, a campaign piece looking at identity from a young person’s perspective and the pressures to be someone the sometimes simply are not!

The power of life experience turned into art

Do you remember your first photography? If yes, what it was about? How was your life between that first photography and your decision to be a photographer? Photography as “capturing life”. Is it really so? You are so amazed in front of all that beauty you try to “capture”, that sometimes I do have the sensation that you want to catch the water in a frame of eternity and make it last forever. You “capture” landscapes, seascapes, monochrome, people, architecture & Interiors, and studies. Let’s see through your eyes what you love, where you stop, why, and what are your thoughts?

This  is a rather big question Val! 🙂 a lot of time between focusing on photography and the first photograph!

My first memory of photography goes back to the 70’s when I was very young I discovered an image in a book – https://fstoppers.com/portraits/dalis-collaborated-photos-nsfw-3644

I was immediately drawn to the dream theme and it stuck with me. A simply stumbled upon a book in the library. I started drawing at 5 and discovered some natural talent…the mind of a child was already interested in creative things without knowing what the world of art and creativity really was – it was more a trick I could do as I saw it – that got me praise – it was rare.

It was at the age of 7 that I came home to find my mother and brother upset – he was a couple of years younger – when I asked what was happening I was abruptly and emotionally told that I was an adopted orphan – that my brother was also adopted that my family wasn’t my family and they were getting divorced…a life-changing experience that also explained an underlying feeling of unconnectedness. The following morning in pragmatic insanity I told my “father” that I would stay with him – I never saw my adoptive mum again and only saw my brother for a brief two weeks after the separation.

My individuality and maturity kicked in with full force and dreaming and imagination became somewhere to breathe…my choice was a poor one and I found nothing in my guardian that could be called love or support. As I knew he wasn’t my blood father – I don’t know who that is – it was easier to dismiss the attachment issues that arose.

Immersing myself in trying to be a child and playing with art, I found some encouragement from his father who loved to paint trees…my love of trees has remained to this day (left). In high school, I found real encouragement from my art teacher Ken Powrie – though I was met with resistance by the head of art Mr Simplson and Mr Beattie. Ken reintroduced me to surrealism – I especially love the classical talent of Dali and his fluid imagination…ignorant of who he was or his love of cheques and gold!

Ken’s support brought me on artistically – he rarely taught but simply encouraged and approved of what I made. I am self-taught in all the disciplines I engage with.

Fast forwarding a few years and a friend gave me a shot of her little Nikon F2 – I wandered and shot my first roll of film – I enjoyed it and remember the experience of cropping my view of things into a canvas. When the prints came back Kirsty was overwhelmingly complimentary – looks like I could do something else artistic. She was an art graduate at GSA at the time so I took her enthusiasm to be real!

At 21 I created a portfolio of work for an application with Edinburgh College of Art. The Folio contained drawings – pastels – paintings – intaglio, screenprint and mono printing – sculpture – jewellery and monochrome photography I had the luck of being able to process after taking thanks to a mentor and a friend some years older than me Iain Massie. He was a gifted generous man who used to lecture at Aberdeen Art School.

I got an interview at Edinburgh a few weeks later. My ego was boosted as the two lecturers told me it was a very impressive portfolio – the best of that year and the most diverse they’d seen in a long time.

Then they told me I would be starting in the second year. I wanted to start at the beginning and make the right decisions about specialising etc and get used to the department’s strengths and weaknesses. It turned into an hour-long discussion until I agreed to start in the second year. A tour of the college followed with one of the lecturers. As we walked through I asked questions about support for materials – if business sponsorship might limit the narrative of works from students…I didn’t feel right listening to the empty replies so I asked about an aspect of the college’s reputation – that if you work outside the interests of a given lecturer you are pretty much teaching yourself? He struggled to answer and the other interviewer appeared – “he’s just asked me this” stuttered my tour guide – “of course not!” was the others reply pointing to the large doors at the foot of the grandiose steps.

A week later I received my rejection letter from the course. I raised the experience with the Dean of the college – his reply…” your work was not of the standard or consistency expected of this college.”

I applied to validate in some official capacity my skills and learn to become more proficient in different mediums…I would continue to create despite their demoralising and cowardly game.

Empowering others through his art

A few years on and I am invited to a public meeting at the city chambers about homelessness and the issues young people face. I Left home at 16 and experienced homelessness so I had an interest and already managed a music and arts project in the town’s community centre – specifically engaging unemployed people. The meeting became the catalyst for me to create and present a documentary about homelessness for young people 16-21 yrs – I also became the chair and spent two yrs unpaid developing a proposal for a supportive project designed to reduce risk and support young homeless people. I personally created the argument for government support and completed the research and application for urban aid European funding – resulting in £500,000 for the project over the first three years. Again I was dismissed when I applied for a project workers post despite creating the whole concept and attracting the resources to make it happen. Despite yet another disempowering and thankless experience, I was drawn to documentary making as a creative force and the sense of purpose appealed much more than entertaining artists with art!

Once again I was framing what I saw and loved the human connection and understanding that came from making documentaries and campaigns. The subject matter was always challenging. HIV and Aids, Incest Support projects, Youth work, Race equality, Ex-offenders and homelessness, Disabilities…I was now a self-taught journalist/filmmaker/campaign designer…I have been trying and failing since to get investment and political support for a media organisation designed to increase media literacy and produce interesting and socially focused grassroots productions.

The timeless tale of nature

The digital revolution rekindled my interest in photography. It’s a wonderful way to immerse yourself in being while documenting the experience and returning to relive it on screen in post-production – absorbing and reflecting in deeper ways. I am self-taught and non-academic so I won’t pretend or pontificate about photography techniques and histories – my natural eye and critical discernment guide my work – responding intuitively and spontaneously to the environment in front of the lens. The video work had purpose regarding people’s lives and I rarely invade people’s space with photography to represent them as my artistic subjects – something doesn’t fit well with me there and it’s the reason I prefer photographing landscapes.

The challenge for me with photography is the timeless tale of nature but in a way that captures the rhythm and synchronistic harmony of the elements at play – the movement of water reflecting the shapes in the sky – the textural interest and dynamic set against soft movement. It’s not as easy as it may look but when a photograph echoes the aesthetic of a painting I feel a certain success in the image – perhaps because the two symbolise the human celebration of an eternal challenge to catch natures perfections and unquestioning beauty.

Landscapes of Scotland

I believe in openness – anything lived as a stigma or an embarrassment denies the reality of this chaotic and unpredictable life.

I’d like to ask you how in that period of your life you “settled” in photography, even if your skills are obviously many and the new media were coming in the right moment for you to express all your potentials. I see your road is long but it’s because your fundaments are wide. After all, did you start to live of photography? What’s happening after that?

I never really settled on photography but added it to the range of self-taught skills and experiences I could engage with. I have been lucky to attract creative like-minded people who have encouraged me to keep creating. In photography terms – Catriona Grant – a Scottish photographer and friend gave me great encouragement and a chance to watch and learn – Her work was produced with beautiful large format cameras. The prints were all processed and completed by her and seeing that process and the results fuelled my interest in photography.

It wasn’t until digital photography became the high quality that I really immersed myself in the medium. Acquiring my first digital camera brought so much freedom to learn and control the process – without lab reliance or horrible chemicals. I quickly found my approach and simply photographed anything of interest to me – eventually focusing on landscape works with the naive assumption that – given the nationalist rise in Scotland that there would be a demand for prints and images – not so!

Thanks to the emergence of social networks and online sharing – photography as a money earning medium became very weak. People collect images on their devices now and that’s how they experience them. The demand for prints plummeted just as my collection had begun to show higher fine art photography quality. This all means that artists have to be marketing and sales people with a distant and indifferent audience or customer base. My little dream of roaming freely being paid for landscape work crashed! Yet another dead end!

Scotland is very conservative in its tastes and very few people spend real money on art – only wealthy people typically through galleries – the old ways prevail.

I continue creating because it’s built in – like breathing but I do wish I could make a living off the work I do. Budgets have been slashed by SNP so even the design and media services have nowhere to go. There’s little referral between people and even less enquiry. The isolated experience and lack of proactive interest make the effort harder with each year.

The value I enjoy from taking the photographs mainly comes from my FB page. People genuinely enjoy the window it provides with some people telling me they are ill or housebound and really appreciate the view I provide…it doesn’t translate to print sales though! I like the sharing principle and the extended purpose it gives to the photographs. There’s a personal pleasure in getting out into these scenes and absorbing them with and without the camera. When I return home from a shoot and load the images up on screen I get to relive the experience and imprint the qualities nature offers more deeply into my own consciousness – I do still enjoy that, it’s probably what keeps me going.

I am currently collating my preferred images and developing an abstract set to celebrate our relationship with the sea. Textural studies that translate as impressionist/abstract artworks. I am hoping to attract some support for a full project visiting different harbours around the Scottish coast over a few months to create a full exhibition but again I am reliant on funding support success with Creative Scotland or other funding bodies – there’s little success in these applications and they are remote to artists – it’s a long socio-politico story that is true across many nations I’m sure!

Reinventing and marketing his work

I have to keep reinventing and marketing my work – My projects include – creating a series of exhibition ready works – a series of paintings – abstracts and classic still life works – an online record label with a patron based subscription – composing for games and media – a full media support and production service for the public sector including org’s and groups – to raise media literacy and provide strong dynamic work that supports their services.

I need a team but there I am madly attempting all this myself without support or input! Keeps life interesting if nothing else!

Dreams and optimism for the future

I’d like to know about your dreams. What are you dreaming about for yourself? If you can make an ideal situation to live, what would it be?

My dreams…To be free from stress-free to create to live. With good people, productive ego-less people with a genuine sense of play, enquiry and responsiveness.
One simple line but it is loaded with peaks and limits. I’ll keep making anyway – it’s built in. I don’t have a plan except to become more entrepreneurial with work and services to generate more interest. I’d sing songs of optimism if I didn’t know how short Scotland is on money and how tight the community of beneficiaries are. There are no talent scouts – no talent to industry matching no connecting the dots between artists and buyers. I’d have to describe Scotland’s tastes as conservative.

Where do you see yourself in five years from now?

I can’t say where I’ll be 5 years from now – unless some luck prevails I’ll prob just be working a dead job to pay the bills. I can’t say it’s inspiring but without investment and people with money interested in art then it’s all just playing with crayons in the open asylum. It’s a strange dilemma, on the one hand, artists are considered lucky or free but we are dependent on people recognising the value of our work so we can make money to be free to continue creating. Lots of interesting ideas circulating around buyer to artist relationships – how to sell – still nothing seems stable or predictable. There’s a bigger question in our culture regarding sponsoring creatives to realise work – ideas – art – as part of the rich tapestry of culture – or do we leave it to the rich who can afford to play studio all day and that determines the output and productive successes. I think we should encourage morel but create an agency that reaches into communities to discover talent rather than having the quality of art a reflection of the form filling skills from one project to another.


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