WesternEye sat down with senior illustration lecturer Gary Embury – the founder and editor of UWE based project, Reportager.

Julia Midgley - War Art & Surgery
Julia Midgley – War Art & Surgery

Reportager project focuses on showcasing the best of reportage illustration – a form of visual journalism, ranging from urban stories and social issues, to frontline war reports and human catastrophes.

With the perpetually evolving rolling news coverage and reliance on eye-catching imagery – dubbed by critics as “war porn”, reportage illustration offers a viable alternative.

Can ‘Reportager’ exist alongside photo and video journalism?

There really is space for artist and illustrators using drawing, painting and other media to report on events that are, or aren’t covered by photojournalism and take a different view. Work that is made on the spot is quite gritty and grimy; very different material than you get from a camera. The art of the broken pencil, in effect.

Illustration is much more subjective; it captures minutes, hours, days – not just a moment, like the camera. Maybe that’s why it’s different enough to be used alongside. But you can argue, can photography be completely objective?

Carly Larson - ‘No Justice, No Peace’
Carly Larson – ‘No Justice, No Peace’

How is ‘Reportager’ different to standard illustration and reportage drawing?

Reportage drawing has an element of being quiet passive. I was more interested in journalistic and documentary drawings – an obvious example would be war art.  Being on the spot and drawing is not really making any comment. It’s very interesting, when you have an artist who’s actually drawing and interviewing, trying to find out and actually scrutinizing things, rather than sitting back and drawing in a coffee shop.

Can you tell us more about the 2015 Reportager Award?

There were three categories: Professional, Student, and a Moleskine Special Mention Award. We had 350 separate pieces of work on display in Bower Ashton campus and submissions came from all over the world – from China, to right across Europe. It helped that there was a financial incentive, I think.

What are Reportager’s links with UWE students?

A lot of students look at it and get intimidated, as most of the members are professionals and academics. I’m working to establish Reportager Student Research Group – an interest group to meet and talk about projects and exchange ideas.

Some of my students have gone on to become reportage artists. One is in Cuba at the moment, so I will promote and publish his work.

Overall, there is space where I can highlight student work. That’s for the future really.

Check out the project by visiting reportager.uwe.ac.uk; contact Gary Embury for more information on how to get involved.

By Ben Gerdziunas