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Autumn 2003
The Art of Clubbing
Ian Beesley at the National Museum of Photography
Bradford-born Ian Beesley is one of the UK's most acclaimed photographers. We caught up with him at his latest exhibition in Halifax's Piece Hall.
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Ian Beesley's website
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The Piece Hall Art Gallery, Halifax is open 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays. (Tel: 01422 358087)

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clubbing
The Art of Clubbing
(c) Ian Beesley
CLICK HERE TO TAKE A LOOK
clubbing

Ian Beesley has had his photographs published and exhibited for almost 30 years and during that time his subjects have varied from local mills to portraits of war veterans who fought in Burma during the Second World War.

Time spent with both Bradford City FC and the Bulls Rugby League Club has resulted not only in books and exhibitions but in calendars which have brought his images into many a West Yorkshire home.

feet in the air

This image captured at hebden Bridge Trades Club was "just a lucky accident"

Now Ian lives in Saddleworth but as far as he is concerned this is the West Riding, not Lancashire.

For his new exhibition at the Piece Hall he has visited clubs from Brighouse, Halifax, Hebden Bridge and Todmorden capturing a range of styles.

Ian explains: "We did the Tube, we did the Ritz at Brighouse, one in Todmorden called Out In The Sticks and then the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge and they were all different. There was reggae, drum and bass, garage, mainstream."

While the Coliseum in Halifax is mainstream Hebden Bridge Trades Club is much more laid back. The Ritz in Brighouse is noted for its Northern Soul nights and Ian believes the music is now attracting a younger audience.

Ian Beesley Cam
Ian Beesley with his Leica camera

He says: "The thing about nightclubs is they are quite difficult places to photograph in because they're always very noisy so it is often difficult to speak to people, and the vast majority of people are under the influence of some sort of illegal refreshments, shall we say, so what I did was to capture more movement and atmosphere... There's an element of luck in it."

In Hebden Bridge Ian came across a man with his feet in the air: "There's an element of luck in it. I was watching him do it and I thought there's going to be a picture there, but it happened so quickly and it was quite dark. It's just one of the happy accidents that happened."

feet in the air

People have been bringing their tattoos to the Piece Hall to get them photographed

Ian's career as a photographer started while he was a student at Bradford College but over the years he has had some other jobs, notably in the film industry where he worked as a focus puller and locations manager, working on such projects as Monty Python's Meaning of Life, Brazil and Ascendancy.

The Art of Clubbing was five years in the making. It started when Ian was involved in a TV programme about nightclub culture in Leeds for which he did portraits of bouncers and club owners as well as an impressionistic sequence in a club. Karen Belshaw, curator at Calderdale Art Galleries, thought this could be developed into an exhibition and commissioned Ian.

The current exhibition has also provided the starting point for Ian's next project. People have been invited to workshops at the Piece Hall to have their tattoos photographed by Ian and these images are also on show. With 16 books behind him already Ian Beesley is looking forward to the culmination of his look at the art of tattooing in a book and an exhibition in about eighteen months time.

tattoo
The Art of Tattoos
(c) Ian Beesley
CLICK HERE TO TAKE A LOOK
tattoo

The exhibition runs at the Piece Hall Art Gallery until November 16th 2003

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