From the 20th of September to the 20th of October, the photographic festival of Guernsey, a small Anglo-Norman island located where the Channel meets the Atlantic ocean.
This year’s theme is the political landscape.
Among the guests: Xavier Barral, Lisa Barnard, Chloe Dewe Mathews, Fernando Masselli’s, Jaakko Kahilaniemi, Cesar Desfuli, William Bression, Carlos Ayesta, Andrea and Magda.
Director of the festival; Jean Christophe Godet.
Here is his portrait by Mark Windsor, an English journalist who is a regular visitor of the festival.
Curiosity about the world is a great driving force and motivation for Jean Christophe Godet, Director of the International Guernsey Photography Festival.
Godet arrived in Guernsey in 2008 and started preparation for the first festival. Initially an annual event, the month-long festival now takes place on this Channel Island is now biennal and continues to establish Guernsey as a vibrant cultural destination. Its impact on the local arts scene has never ceased to increase. It is now firmly established as one of the most important cultural festivals in the Channel Islands, positioning itself as one of the most interesting festivals of photography in Europe.
Godet is clearly ambitious in the quality of work he wishes to attract to the island. Photographers such as Martin Parr, Josef Koudelka, Elinor Carucci, Bruce Gilden, Samuel Fosso, Carolle Benitah, Richard Billingham, Abbas and Cristina de Middel were among the leading lights who attended and exhibited the previous festivals.
But it’s not just about photography’s luminaries. Godet and his team of enthusiastic volunteers, successfully bring together established artists and new talents. The Festival’s year round local education programme is also very important. ‘It’s integral to the future development of local young people,’ says Godet.
‘The idea of the Festival is very much to encourage and tease out new talent – here and abroad. We run an international competition with a £5,000 first prize, generously sponsored by Raven Property Group. This year’s judges included JC Godet, Simon Bainbridge of the British Journal of Photography, Val Williams Professor of Photography at UAL , and Marina Paulenka (Director of Organ Vida – International Photography Festival).
This year’s headline image makers are: Xavier Barral, Chloe Dewi Mathews, Lisa Barnard and a host of others – including the winner of this year’s International Competition: Norway’s Terje Abusdal. Integral to this and each festival are the talks, films and workshops with the photographers – which attract people into the island.
Since 2012, the Guernsey Photography Festival has expanded its activities by annually commissioning an international artist to produce a specific body of work about the Bailiwick of Guernsey. The aim is to build up a collection of contemporary pictures by world famous and emerging artists about Guernsey and the rest of the Channel Islands.
This year Godet invited the internationally renowned Magnum Photographer Mark Power and Gregoire Eloy from the French collective Tendance Floue. Cristina de Middel and Sian Davey are in line to take over the residency in the forthcoming years.
‘We encourage a range of genres: Documentary, conceptual photography, and mixed media. ‘Coherence is everything – we look for well thought out and carefully presented proposals and images that achieve their creator’s aim.’
Godet is realistic about the Festival’s achievements. ‘We can’t compete for size with the major festivals – Guernsey is a small island that doesn’t have the sort of infrastructure of major European cities like Paris or London have. And we rely very much on volunteers in to show the work around St Peter Port, where exhibition space is at a premium.
‘What we can do and have done since the outset, is curate quality, and create a cultural buzz on a beautiful island that is hungry for it. In the process we’re attracting more international visitors every time – that’s one of the most pleasing achievements for me.’
Besides being Festival Director: Jean Christophe Godet is a Travel photographer and photography teacher. He worked formerly as an an Arts Administrator – for 20 years in London, working first for the London Philharmonic Orchestra and then at the Barbican Centre.
Article writer Mark Windsor is a freelance photographer and writer, and a former book reviewer for Foto 8.