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Blog Runaway Billboard: the making of

For the last few weeks, I’ve been working with Newcastle based artist, Sebastian Trend to plan a Great North Run Culture workshop for young people. It’s called Runaway Billboard and is inspired by Dan Holdsworth’s Landscape and Duration commission. 

Where Dan’s images are captured over an extended exposure time, the images created in the workshop with Sebastian are shot in seconds with handmade pinhole cameras.

The workshops, which ran over three sessions, were brilliant! We spent a lot of time making our pinhole cameras out of matchboxes; they’re pretty fiddly to make but look so cute! We all loved how they look almost like a little digital camera but have the most basic camera technology within them. We had a good few adventures around the Customs House (the venue for the workshops). We wandered into South Shields, including a trip to the funfair and along the sea front to meet some permanent residents of South Shields, known to our young people as ‘Wibbly Wobblies’! There was a near miss with a seagull and despite losing my sandwiches to the cheeky bird, my finger remained intact - the things I’ll endure in the name of art!

It turns out that despite the pinhole cameras being really simple in their construct, making decent images from them isn’t. Timing is the key, as is keeping the cameras extremely steady. Whilst I know the basics of capturing a good photo, I’m not a photographer. I’ve learnt a lot, as with a pinhole camera you operate everything, including the exposure time. This means you need to asses the light conditions so as not to over or under expose…

…I’m not completely hopeful of a pinhole photography career, having realised that throughout one workshop, the winder was not taking the film on any further and I had basically just taken about twenty shots on one exposure. Nevertheless, I’ve since filled the roll and some of the shots are very interesting to look at.

The young people taking part in the workshop have created some really beautiful work and Sebastian and I are looking forward to getting it to the display stage. The install is next week, giving the workshop participants the opportunity of installing a public exhibition and showing off some of their work.


Naomi joined us in 2012 as a summer intern after graduating from the University of Brighton with a degree in Visual Culture. Naomi is now Programme Assistant and will be blogging about events and what it takes to be part of the team during the busiest time of the year in the Great North Run Culture office.


Credit Colin Davison
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