Close-Up: Life through a lens with a raw, subversive slant

As Campaign gears up for its inaugural Photo Awards, Graham Fink visits an experimental photography show at the Arden & Anstruther Gallery. To find out more about the awards, visit

Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite is the title of Paul Arden's second book, and the inspiration for the experimental photography show that opened this month at the Arden & Anstruther Gallery in Petworth.

During the last four years of his life, Paul became involved in teaching young contemporary designers and photographers from Kingston University. He saw a chance to celebrate the attitude he so championed in his books.

He revelled in the freshness of their thinking, and set them challenges, pushing them to the edge. The resulting work was often subversive, unconventional and exciting. The gallery became a space to triumph this raw emerging talent.

This show is the third in the series, and Toni Arden (Paul's wife) asked me and Alex Taylor, together with Zelda Malan (the senior tutor at Kingston), to select the work from more than 80 students. This was no easy task. What would Paul think? Is it anarchic? Is it too clever? Is it fresh enough? Is it wrong enough?

The Private View caused no small excitement. We had Stevie McGarrity Alderdice printing his own penis in lurid purples and reds (amid titters and nervous gasps from the assembled agency and Petworth crowd). Clover Steven's Gun/Camera "shooting" passers-by and projecting their live, shocked reactions, on to a screen. Amie Herriott's achingly lovely portraits, created by painting her face as a negative. And not forgetting the beautiful, but mouldy, dog shit photographs positioned on the floor.

It's a great show and well worth the trip. Me? I just bought a penis print and went home. Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite, The Show runs until 9 May.

- Graham Fink is the executive creative director at M&C Saatchi.