RPS at the Paintworks in Bristol
I received confirmation of the arrival of my prints at the RPS and included in the email were helpful tips on where to park. I chose to park at the Sainsbury’s store and this was pre-booked over the Internet. This was a very reasonable £4 for the day. The car park is shared with an interesting looking pub – the Castle.
To get to the RPS meant crossing the dual carriageway past the Castle pub, past Burger King and then turning right down Edward Road. At the end of this road I turned left through an alley past this wonderful piece of street art.
… and walked along the Paintworks road.
At the end of the row of offices I turned right and climbed the steps and the RPS building was immediately in front of me. As always I was early and the receptionist kindly unlocked the door and let me in and I sat and had a calming cup of tea.
The Assessments in the morning
The judges were sat on the first row and to their right was a table with two seats. The second row of the RPS theatre was kept clear so no-one could see over the shoulders of the judges.
After a short safety introduction we were introduced to the 5 judges, the chair and the adjudicator (this was the title I think). The eighth person at the front of the room brought out the first panel and with the aid of one of the judges put it on the wall. The lights in the theatre over the audience were then dimmed.
The process was as follows:
- The five judges sat and looked at the panel, then
- the judges went up to the panel and took down prints and examined them closely, on some panels they were joined by the chair and sometimes the adjudicator as well.
- the chair asked the panel to vote for the first time, each judge holding up a flash card hidden from view by the audience, then the chair asked a judge to give their comments
- the judge stood and talked about the panel, pointing out what was liked and what was not. This first judge I think was one who had voted no as often they would point out issues with the panel as a whole or issues with individual prints.
- The chair then asked a second judge to comment and the process repeated only often this judge was more positive about the panel and prints.
- The chair then might call on another judge to speak. This was often if there were issues or differences of opinion between the first two judges. Or, the chair would ask if anyone else had anything else to add.
- The gentle debate often continued with judges sharing opinions, helping each other to look at an image differently with sometimes judges leaving their seats for further close examinations of a print.
- Then the chair would ask for a second vote.
- If the vote was no, the chair summarised the issues with the panel or with individual images. The judges then filled in feedback forms and this often took a long time.
- If the vote was yes, the chair would give the name of the applicant, the judges turning around to see if they were in the audience to receive extra applause. The chair would then also give a short summary too and explain that the recommendation would now go to the Distinctions Committee for approval and for the Trustees to ratify.
The morning’s LRPS panels
I sat and watched the process unfold on each presented panel and became more and more nervous as panels were rejected for individual images or for example the selection of subjects.
The LRPS distinction assesses five areas; camera work and technical quality, visual awareness, communication and finally overall impression. These are described in more detail in the RPS LRPS Guidelines.
The last item – overall impression for me was the most difficult. The panel as a whole is viewed as the 11th ‘image’ and as such needs to be balanced and to ‘hang together’. Plus the use of ‘appropriate’ materials.
The judges commented on panels with a significantly weaker image, with ones that didn’t demonstrate a wide variety of techniques, ones with images that had been over-processed and even ones that had gloss paper rather matte or semi-matte.
The morning’s session could be summarised by this pie chart:
Some panels had been withdrawn or I believe had not arrived for the Assessment Day.
Lunch at the Convoy Express
After 1 pm we broke for lunch and on the advice of one of the RPS staff I went back down the steps and turning right at the bottom of the steps I followed the Paintworks road until I came to two (silver) Airflow caravans – Convoy Expresso.
I ordered soup of the day and went into the other caravan to wait for lunch. The tomato and basil soup was delicious.