I’ve been to Utrecht. I thought I vaguely remembered it from geography classes with Mrs Whitwam and her white ankle socks with Jesus sandals whatever the weather, so I assumed the town was going to be somewhat industrial. After all, I didn’t think Utrecht was on a volcano, nor did I think it had an indigenous population where women wore lip plates, therefore by process of elimination it had to have industrial significance, the third of the only subjects that Mrs W thought we needed to know. But it was none of the above, just a very pretty town of canals, cafes and bicycles.
However, I digress, I wasn’t actually in Utrecht to admire the canals and drink Bols, I was there to attend Rob Hornstra’s workshop and see his exhibition Man Next Door.
Rob’s workshop completely opened my eyes about ways of getting your work out there. Along with Donald Weber (how to write a grant application) and Arnold Van Bruggen (promoting the narrative), Rob took us on a journey through his highly acclaimed Sochi Project from fund-raising and free newspapers to the finished product via amusing anecdotes of life in the wild east.
I was exhausted sharing this journey with them as a classroom observer, and it certainly reinforced how hard photographers have to work to succeed. If Rob repeats the workshop, I can highly recommend signing up for it – it’s totally inspiring. I just need to work out my own plan of action now …
Man Next Door was sad enough in book form, but to see the images on the wall, along with videos of and about Kid, including one made on the day of his funeral, was heart-wrenching. I sincerely hope that the show will come to the UK in the not too distant future, and when it does, I’ll be the first in the queue to see it again. Actually, on reflection, there must be less salubrious parts of Utrecht, otherwise Man Next Door would never have happened. Maybe Mrs W was right all along and it is (or was) an important industrial area, but it was a part I didn’t get to see.
I don’t normally recommend hotels, because they are invariably over-priced and disappoint. But I’m making an exception for the Mary K. It’s an art hotel and visitors are encouraged to make pictures while there. With a Nespresso machine, big bathroom, comfy nest and a balcony, I was at home in my element.