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Documenting Britain


Fèis presents

Documenting Britain As part of Scotland’s first Season of Photography, running from April until September 2015, curatorial group Fèis have been invited to present a selection of photography from Documenting Britain for Street Level Photoworks, Trongate 103, Glasgow. Documenting Britain is a creative response to the British Isles by a group of artists, photographers, filmmakers, composers and poets. Their collective purpose is to deliver a critical record of the archipelago on which we live. “The historian takes possession of the past by interpreting traces, whereas the trace of the past happens to the stroller and takes possession of him. Let us not claim, however, that nothing happens to the historian; undoubtedly his desire also involves an anticipation, a curiosity with regard to what will come to him from the past, what he will discover in the shadows and encounter. There is often a stroller at the heart of each historian, a part of him that is trying to let himself be touched by the traces.” Sylviane Agacinski, Time Passing, 2003 Fèis is a group of artists and curators who organise exhibitions, events, publications and research projects. Fèis works with artists, photographers and writers in collaboration with institutions to produce and exhibit new work and develop informed, critical discourses around particular subjects. Fèis would like to thank all the members of Documenting Britain who have contributed individual efforts to this show and to this catalogue, to Malcolm Dickson and Sarah Amy Fishlock at Street Level Photoworks, to Ilford Photo and to you, those who believe in us. Designed by Kenneth Gray www.kennethgray.co.uk Printed by Think Digital www.thinkdigitalprint.co.uk All rights reserved © the photographers and reproduction without permission is prohibited. 3456

Front cover image by Jim Mortram


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Agatha Albert Edinburgh, Scotland

I am actively interested in the practice, theory and curatorial aspects of contemporary photography. My work is research-led, focussing on re-imagining narratives from the past to further understand the present, as well as questioning notions of identity, nationality and the presumption of photographic veracity. A Pictish Tale (2014 – ongoing) The Picts remain a mysterious culture, with scholars unable to agree on many elemental facts ranging from their cultural origins to which language was spoken. The most recent mention of the Picts is circa 900 AD when the union between Scots, who originated from the west coast and Ireland, was established and RÏoghachd na h-Alba (the Kingdom of Scotland) came into being. I am intrigued by the disappearance of this culture and for A Pictish Tale I have journeyed on foot to remote parts of eastern and northern Scotland, from Aberdeenshire up through Sutherland and on to Orkney. I have searched for ancient artefacts as well as for traces in the landscape that correspond with the suggestion that Pictish society used matrilineal succession, unlike those living around them. To deliver a narrative of my own, I have portrayed the types of animals carved into their elaborate symbol stones alongside the Picts as I see them embodied in my imagination.


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Alastair Cook Edinburgh, Scotland

I am an artist and curator. I work predominantly with video and photography to explore communities undergoing significant transformation and to consider the relationship between individuals and the landscapes they occupy. I am currently the artist in residence for Kaunas Photography Gallery, Lithuania, supported by Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow. In Order to Win, You Must Expect to Win (2014 – ongoing) What began as a yearlong residency centred on the Scottish port town of Greenock has developed into a longer photographic investigation of this place and its people. One element of this is a series made with Greenock Boxing Club. Led by Danny Lee, who boxed at the 1960 Olympics with Muhammad Ali, and his inspirational son Danny, the club is based in a Salvation Army church in Cartsdyke. Like much of postindustrial Britain, Cartsdyke is an area with difficult statistics on drugs, crime and mortality. With this work I want to tell the story of these boxers, the families who live here, struggle here, rejoice here. In order to win, you must expect to win.


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Błlazej Marczak Aberdeen, Scotland

My practice focuses on portraiture and social landscapes mainly within the urban environment. I am curious about people’s stories, social history and the specific conditions we are living in so I adopt a simple visual language to express complex circumstances. Since my graduation in 2012 from The University of Abertay I have participated in various projects and group exhibitions in the UK and internationally, including Migration Matters, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, Edinburgh (2015); Quality of Everyday Life, Summerhall, Edinburgh (2013); Celebrating Europe, European Prospects, Kaunas Photography Gallery, Lithuania (2014). The Grey City (2013 – ongoing) This is a story of Aberdeen, a personal and subjective impression of this northern city. The energy capital of Europe, Aberdeen is bounded by two rivers, the North Sea and vast stretches of open land. It is often described as the Granite City, though others say it is silver. I feel it would be most accurately described as the grey city as a ubiquitous landscape of bleak granite and a matching sky evoke an atmosphere of gloom. I cannot see the glamour others describe as I am attracted by the seemingly commonplace which many may see as unimportant and mundane. The silver remains but is becoming stained, a patina encroaching. I am an outsider and I experience this place as an outsider, free from nostalgia, raw.


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Corinne Silva London, England

My practice explores the use of the still and moving image in suggesting metaphysical space. My meditative visual language engages with the potentials and restrictions of lens-based media and the evolving relationship between politics, landscape and art histories. I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Photography and the Archive Research Centre, University of the Arts London. In 2014 I was artist in residence at A.M. Qattan Foundation, Palestine, and Kaunas Photo Gallery in Lithuania and received a Triangle International Fellowship. My recent group and solo exhibitions include Garden State, Ffotogallery, Cardiff, and The Mosaic Rooms, London (2015); Gardening the Suburbs, Makan Art Space, Amman (2014); I See Europe! Kunstbezirk, Stuttgart (2013); Brighton Photo Biennial, UK (2012). I am currently artist in residence at Aktuelle Architektur Der Kultur, Murcia, Spain. Croydonisation (2008 and 2015) In Croydon town centre, errors of judgement are constructed on the ruins of failed visions, major roads dissect the town centre, mini-manhattan skyscrapers render pavements into unwalkable wind tunnels. Croydonisation comprises of a photograph printed on a bus shelter poster, hung next to a public notice, a love letter to Croydon written by Croydon-born architect Vincent Lacovara. Lacovara’s love letter explores his conflicting feelings of tenderness and disappointment with a place that since its regeneration began in the 1890s continues to be used as an example of failed British town planning. Croydonisation was originally commissioned by the Museum of Croydon.


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Dan Wood Bridgend, Wales

I discovered photography in 1996 through skateboarding and the culture that surrounds it. My inspiration comes from a wide subject matter and I consider myself predominantly a documentary photographer, shooting stories from both a traditional and contemporary approach. I have travelled widely in pursuit of inspiration and knowledge, capturing on film a multitude of cultures and landscapes. My work has been featured in many publications and I have taken part in over forty exhibitions both nationally and internationally. Suicide Machine The idea for Suicide Machine came about in 2009 whilst checking into London’s Gatwick Airport for a flight. After looking at my passport, the desk attendant asked, Bridgend, isn’t that where all the suicides are? In that moment it dawned on me that the town where I was born, grew up in and still live was now infamous. In 2013 I decided to start documenting my town and the people who live here. What is it that makes a normal town like Bridgend end up with such a bad reputation? On the surface it is just like any other town. In fact, it’s probably a step above other towns due to its near-perfect location, lying alongside the M4 corridor, a mere two and a half hours drive from London. Additionally, Bridgend sits just ten minutes away from beautiful coastlines and wonderful valleys and is twenty minutes equidistant between Wales’ two main cities, Cardiff and Swansea. I want to rediscover Bridgend and find out if it is as oppressive and regressive as I am starting to believe. What does the future hold for Bridgend, a town that is slowly being constricted by supermarkets and out of town developments? Does happiness exist here? Why has there been an exodus of most of my friends? Is aesthetic regeneration really the answer? What kind of town will my daughter grow up in?


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Dave Dickie Irvine, Scotland

As a practicing medical photographer, it is my job to document the anatomy of the human body and the pathologies that affect it. My job demands accurate and precise recording of images that can be a reliable source of information for treatments and surgical planning. I live and work in Ayrshire, based at Crosshouse Hospital and living in the Bourtreehill and Broomlands area of Irvine. O’erspill O’erspill is a nickname given to Bourtreehill and Broomlands in Irvine, Ayrshire, where a large proportion of Glasgow residents, looking for new opportunities, moved to during the 1970s. My project focuses on the streets of the area and the ruins of the mansion house that now serves as a folly in its own garden. The largely omitted population, featuring as fleeting apparitions if at all, give way to images of an area steeped in history that few are aware of, asking if we have failed to maintain the ideal in which it was created. Known for its colourful building renders, for which it earned its other nickname Legoland, my images show the fading colours of the buildings and the green of nature that is steadily reclaiming the areas we have chosen to neglect.


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Harry Rose Chichester, England

My work focuses on meditated moments of loss and memory. I work with still life and landscape photographs, examining the relationship between place and person, exploring the lure of the outside. I graduated from University of South Wales in 2014, and am the founder and co-editor of Darwin magazine, a contemporary photography magazine. Roam (2014 – ongoing) Set in Snowdonia National Park, Roam explores the appeal of this landscape, from hikers to ramblers and holiday-goers alike. The towns and villages which occupy the National Park thrive from tourism. With this flood of human presence, the landscape changes.


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Jim Mortram Dereham, England

I am a carer in my family home, looking after my mother. For the past eight years, in my free time, I have worked closely with members of my local community. Working as a conduit, I document visually and with written and recorded testimony their daily lives and experiences. Small Town Inertia Small Town Inertia depicts the changes in these individuals’ lives as they confront an ever-shifting cultural, political, and economic landscape. These are the lives of those hanging on, bowed yet not broken, where a fight to survive is very real. Enduring harsh government cuts, policy changes and apathy, fighting addiction, loneliness and illness, while clinging to self-respect, adrift in the community and in life, but not yet lost. Enduring.


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Kirsty Mackay Bristol, England

Originally from Glasgow, I studied photography before leaving for New York and London to work as a photographer’s assistant. I have assisted and learned from many outstanding photographers including Herb Ritts, Nick Knight and Anton Corbijn. I have an MA in Documentary Photography from the University of Wales. In 2003 I partnered with Vodafone, to create an exhibition using the first camera-phone available in the UK. Taking a picture a day for one year, iCapture was shown at the Deluxe Gallery, London. My Favourite Colour Was Yellow I am showing work from My Favourite Colour Was Yellow, a documentary photo book on the dominance of the colour pink in young girls lives. Pink has become synonymous with femininity to the extent that it is easy to take it for granted, but it hasn’t always been this way. In the nineteenth century boys were traditionally dressed in pink. This latest phenomenon has evolved in line with consumerism since the 1980s. I set out to photograph girls with their pink possessions as a way to understand how this one colour has become dominant. Working over a five year period, making portraits of the girls in their bedrooms and on the street I have created a document of this time for girls growing up in Britain. The title reflects the theme at the heart of the work – a lack of choice.


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Margaret Mitchell Glasgow, Scotland

My interest lies in people and their stories with an emphasis on environmental portraiture. Themes of the child, youth, family and identity are often revisited in the people and places photographed. I often photograph children and young people, people on the brink of something, in the midst of establishing a sense of self; sometimes in transformation from one state to another – child, youth, adult. Work has been exhibited widely, including at the European Parliament and at the National Portrait Gallery as part of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2014. The portraits shown here look at aspects of childhood: from developing an awareness of choice, such as having an active voice, through to most-likely innate behaviours that reflect on wider narratives in society such as gender, play, and conflict. One image reminds us of the fantasy and escapism of childhood whilst another suggests and touches on how children may attempt to shape themselves, often reluctantly, to belong to the group. This set of photographs all feature children from Glasgow.


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Stuart PilkinGton Northwich, England

I started out as an event photographer for the British Film Institute, photographing film directors such as Peter Greenaway, Terry Gilliam and Alan Parker, as well as for Christiane Kubrick’s Childwickbury Arts Festival. Strangers In Paradise (2014 – ongoing) On 7th April 2014 I walked out of my front door and five minutes later approached a dog walker and asked to take his portrait. Over the course of the following year I formulated in my mind what the project was and headed further afield to towns and cities in the north west of England, to places I was familiar with and others I was not. As a photographer, I am most interested in a sense of play and a connection with people. The six images in this exhibition are examples of my exploration with colour, pattern and abstraction. I always give a direction to the people in the photographs not to smile, to appeal to my liking for a deadpan aesthetic, but sometimes the most interesting results are when the people photographed ignore this.


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Documenting Britain www.documentingbritain.com www.feisprojects.com

IPS Season of Photography 2015

Documenting Britain catalogue 2015  

As part of Scotland’s first Season of Photography, running from April until September 2015, curatorial group Fèis have been invited to prese...

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