Student Exhibition

Posted on February 11, 2014


I have joined a group of level 3 students at the OCA who are planning to stage an exhibition in June this year at the Bank Street Arts Gallery in Sheffield. At this stage the venue is not confirmed but as I am going to be tied up for a few weeks I thought I would capture my current thinking here on the blog. The arrangements for the exhibition are very fluid at the moment but if it goes ahead it looks like I will get most or all of Gallery 4 at the venue. I have outlined a plan for the work I would want to show on the basis that I will have the whole room. If this is not the case then I will need to scale down the number of photographs I plan to show. I have decided to focus my exhibit on two series of portraits I made during my Advanced course. They were both part of my broader investigation into strategies photographers use for ‘disarming the pose’ of their portrait subjects. They are also linked by the subject matter which is related to my passion for Ironman Triathlon racing. The series in question are I am an Ironman  and Ironman Family. 

I have prepared a draft statement for the exhibition (very draft) which will need to be modified to fit in with the overall approach we adopt as a group but is something I can work on. This is shown below:


‘Ironman’ triathlon is an endurance sport, which involves swimming, cycling and running. Competitors have 17 hours to complete a course of some 140 miles. For the last 8 years I have actively competed in ‘Ironman’ races all over the world.  The two series presented here take the sport and its impact on my life as their subject. Both are part of my wider investigation into strategies for ‘disarming the pose’ of the portrait subject. 

 Ironman Family 

Ironman Family is a series of portraits of friends who are fellow competitors. 

The way in which people behave when being photographed by a friend is conditioned by social conventions. When making these portraits I consciously sought to disrupt these expectations by making the sittings very formal and giving little direction other than asking them not to smile. Beforehand, I had asked each subject to wear something that signifies ‘Ironman’ for them. 

Whilst the series represents a particular group, it also invites speculation about the general nature of people who take part in endurance sports such as ‘Ironman’ Triathlon, and why they challenge themselves in this way.

I am an Ironman 

I am an Ironman is a series of self-portraits that seeks to represent the nature of the training for ‘Ironman’, which is mentally and physically grinding. Each portrait was made immediately after a training workout to try to catch myself at moments when I was too tired and distracted to pose. 

The portraits are presented as a grid. This emphasises the repetitive nature of training day after day. The deadpan and unflattering style is in sharp contrast to the typical heroic imagery of athletes seen in the media. 

The sequence of different facial expressions, poses and gestures also draws attention to the illusive nature of identity as evidenced by surface appearance. I explore this dimension further in a digital composite of the 30 portraits. 

Keith Greenough, February 2013


The approximate layout of the installation is shown in the outline below:

Student Exhibition - Bank Street Arts June 2014 Installation Outline ©Keith Greenough 2014

Student Exhibition – Bank Street Arts June 2014 Installation Outline
©Keith Greenough 2014

The portrait photographs are A1 in size rendering the subjects close to life-size. The grid of self portraits is an 40×30 inch print (the one which was on show at Photofusion Salon 13).

This is going to be a fantastic learning opportunity and its great to be working with a number of other students all of whom have work of great quality!