During Body of Work, my focus changed from my original idea of a road trip along the Irish Border to a more conceptual visualisation of the border though the streams which form a large part of its length. Early on I envisaged an exhibition of my work as large linen prints, about 2m high, and I produced a 1.8m high test print as a proof of concept. So it has always been my intention that the work will be produced on linen and at a large scale.
Of course, there are practical considerations in producing an exhibition of such large work – space, available height, hanging methods, layout etc. Finding a suitable venue will also be part of the challenge. Encouraged by my tutor, I began to also consider producing a book with linen pages. This would have two benefits: it would be a more lasting reproduction of the work while retaining the physical presentation on linen which was a key part of the concept; and it would serve as a way presenting the work to potential host galleries and curators. It was important, though, that the book should maintain a sense of scale – a small book would not give the right impression of the work.
To that end I have been working with Bristol Bound on a way of making such a book. Bristol Bound is a small family-run bookbinder with experience of making many kinds of custom, small volume books. I went to Bristol Bound and discussed the project with Rachel who runs the business with her husband Richard. They have never produced a book with linen pages before but Rachel was willing to have a go. We agreed a way of potentially making the pages by wrapping the linen around a thick paper base and using extra linen to the left of the image as a hinge.
The nest step was to get some linen prints made. I decided on a page size of 300x430mm in portrait format. I had the photographs printed at 260×390, which will leave a 20mm border around the image. This is slightly bigger than A3, to give me the kind of scale I am looking for without being impracticably large. (Fig. 1).
Figure 1 Trial linen book page layout
I sent the linen prints to Bristol Bound and they supplied a sample page to me by post. I submitted this sample page to my tutor during Body of Work.
I have now asked Bristol Bound to quote for producing a complete book using made of such pages interspersed with pages of reproduction newspaper cuttings which I will print myself. The book would be covered with linen which I will get printed with the title.
I am still considering the options for an exhibition, although the practicalities of achieving this in time for assessment in November are problematic. My tutor is adamant that I don’t need to hold an exhibition before assessment, and the course notes make it clear that the ‘publication’ of the Body of Work can take a variety of forms, including a book:
‘What you send to your tutor will depend on what you’re doing for your publication (e.g. making an artist’s book; publishing a photo essay in a magazine; building a project-specific website; or making a site-specific installation).’ (Photography 3 Sustaining your practice p78).
I am therefore thinking that I will plan for an exhibition, as I have always envisaged the work being displayed in a. large format, but that it will not actually take place before assessment. This is the advice I have received from my tutor.