Revisiting old work with fresh eyes and new perspectives

Dom Fleming reflects on his recent Nest Residency

I have just completed a two week Nestival residency with the amazing Talking Birds organisation. The residency ran across two separate weeks in March 2022 (due to falling ill in-between the scheduled 10 day period) and took place inside The Nest; Talking Birds’ beautiful base adjacent to the Daimler Powerhouse on Coventry Canal.

The residency allowed me to take a break from work and gave me the space and the freedom to look at my project work with fresh eyes and excitement. I worked my way through my archive to start the lengthy process of curating my work into a photography book. Due to the nature of being freelance and constantly needing to look for work and move forwards towards the next job, whilst I always ensure I am shooting personal work and passion projects, I often struggle to find the time to develop and explore ideas in depth and work on the post production side. This residency gave me the freedom to delve into my hard drives and rediscover old work that has been untouched and unseen for weeks/months/years.

The first week consisted of trawling through hard drives and collating all of my images from a specific documentary project and then re-editing a chosen selection of images to be printed. The work in question was a documentary project shot around the UK over the past 7 years focusing on the bikelife subculture and movement. Revisiting old work with fresh eyes and new perspectives allowed me to view previously ignored work in a completely different light.  

I then printed a wide selection of images for my second week at Talking Birds so that I could see the work in its physical form and as a ‘project’ for the first time. Having the space in the studio to lay out my photographs next to each other allowed me to see what worked together and create ‘categories’ and ‘collections’ of images. It also highlighted where the possible gaps are in the work, so that I can see what is missing and now plan what needs to be photographed in order to complete the project.

The Nest is a great creative hub, with clean and spacious studios to work from. I was lucky enough to experience two different studios due to my residency being spread across several weeks; Space Odyssey in my first week and Solid Blue in my second week. Changing my environment often leads to an increase in productivity and I was very lucky to have this unique experience of being able to enjoy two studios at The Nest.

An extra benefit was having interesting and inspiring conversations with staff and other residents. Other Coventry photographers were doing a different residency towards the end of my time at The Nest and I was able to show them my work for critique and exchange ideas / opinions.

Thank you to everyone I met at The Nest, I promise I won’t be a stranger. To any creatives in Coventry reading this, make sure you apply for a residency if you think you could benefit from it, as it’s such a great opportunity within the city.

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