Assignment 2 – tutor feedback

This is the formative feedback from my tutor following my tutorial on Assignment 1:

The feedback is positive and encouraging. There are two main points to consider:

  1. Going forward, I should be pitching my work as a photographer, not as a student. The artist’s statement I wrote frames my body of work as part of a BA, but at this stage I need to forget about that context and try to promote my work on its own merits.
  2. Although this assignment included a draft publication plan based on production of a book from scratch, I should not ignore the work I have already done on producing a book.

Assignment 2 – submission

Assignment two
Publication proposal

Following the points listed below, write and send to your tutor a comprehensive proposal showing in detail how you intend to resolve and deliver or disseminate your major project. Refer to the brief for Assignment Five for more detail about what is expected of you for the resolution of your major project.

Your proposal should include:

A timeline for the development of your project, your marketing strategy and the resolution of your work, including installation if appropriate.

A description of the work. Use the work you did for Contextual Studies to help you position your work in its critical and/or commercial context. Briefly explain your motivations and how the project fits within your practice more broadly.

A budget, detailing the costs associated with the resolution of your project and identifying any payment in kind.

A description of how you intend to maximise the presence of your work and engage with your audience, such as your plans for a private view, screening event or artist’s talk.The whole document should not exceed 2,000 words. If you’d like to explore a more experimental approach to the proposal, send any ideas to your tutor.

I confess that I have been prevaricating somewhat over my publication proposal for Assignment 2. Before the lockdown I had expected to submit it in early April and all was going to plan until the country started to shut down in late March. Fortunately I had already done some work on the creation of a hand-made book, so I am able to do some planning for that, but an exhibition during this course now seems out of the question.

I was hoping to get a clearer idea of what the rest of the year holds before submitting my publication plan, but I gradually realised that even the immediate future is so uncertain it is impossible to plan for any kind of physical exhibition of work at the moment. I am not even to submit my physical work to my tutor, let alone for assessment.

So I decided to bite the bullet and make a plan based on the creation of a book, with as much planning as I can reasonably do at the moment, and then update the plan as events unfold through the year.

This is the plan I have submitted to my tutor. There are two documents: a descriptive text document and a Gantt chart. Since they are very likely to change I have given them a revision number.

OCA SYP Publication Proposal rev 1

OCA SYP Publication Proposal timeline rev 1

Assignment 2 – draft outline

I am going through the requirements for my publication proposal and making some initial notes for expansion into the final submission. My starting point is the list of requirements on page 52 of the course notes. Given the Covid-19 situation and the closure of all galleries it is virtually impossible to plan an exhibition at the moment. My plan will therefore be based on on the creation of a large hand-made book with a. view to exhibiting the work on a larger scale when it is possible to arrange an exhibition. The book will also serve as a demonstration of the nature of the work to potential gallery operators and curators.

According to the course notes, the proposal should include:

‘A timeline for the development of your project, your marketing strategy and the resolution of your work, including installation if appropriate.’

My intention is to submit this module for assessment in November hence my timeline will work back from that point. The deadline for submission of materials is the 30th September, so I will need to have the book ready around the end of August so that I can get feedback on it to submit for Assignment 5.

‘A description of the work. Use the work you did for Contextual Studies to help you position your work in its critical and/or commercial context. Briefly explain your motivations and how the project fits within your practice more broadly.’

My Body of Work concerns the border on the island of Ireland between the UK province of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Its final form is quite different to my initial idea in that it is more conceptual than literal documentary. Here I will briefly explain the journey from the original idea to the final outcome and refer to my essay for Contextual Studies, which concerns the use of landscape as metaphor and allegory in documentary photography. My practice is primarily documentary-based, and I will explain that this body of work is a development from the idea of staged documentary and uses text to create a discourse with the viewer.

‘A budget, detailing the costs associated with the resolution of your project and identifying any payment in kind.’

I have already established details costs for the production of the book, notably the production of linen prints, their mounting and binding into a book. To this I will need to add a costing for my own time.

‘A description of how you intend to maximise the presence of your work and engage with your audience, such as your plans for a private view, screening event or artist’s talk.’

With a one-off book this is a tricky one. Firstly I could try and take it to as many portfolio reviews as possible, including arranging one to one portfolio reviews with photographers I have already contacted for Assignment 1. I could also view the book as a precursor to an exhibition, taking it around galleries and curators to stimulate interest in staging an exhibition of the work. The book itself could also feature in the exhibition.

All of the above relates to production of a book, but I am also thinking of planning for an exhibition. Even if the exhibition itself does not take place before I submit for assessment, I can demonstrate that I have done the planning and costing to facilitate an exhibition. In the interim I will also consider a virtual online exhibtion, although this would not be ideal as the physical presentation of work is a key part of my concept.

I have already done some work on the creation of a book during Body of Work and I will build on that during SyP. In particular I want to look at ways of reducing the cost so that it might be possible to produce more than just one book, while retaining the linen prints.

Publication proposal – first thoughts

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.