I have now submitted my Final Major Project and its documentation. Shortly after writing this, I will be submitting my Critical Research Journal. That will bring things here to an end, though not to the end of my project which will continue into 2022 and exhibitions with it.
Almost the final part of the current iteration of my project is an exhibition of some of the images from it. For this I am joining other members of my cohort in a group exhibition at the Four Corners Gallery in Bethnal Green, London, on 6–9 October 2021. I understand that the space has been reserved and a deposit paid so now the details need to be firmed up. I intend to visit the space in the next week or two because a ‘feel’ for it and an understanding of what might hang where are very important.
In the meantime I have been thinking about how I might display my images. I have mapped out a few ideas using the Kunstmatrix 3D system (Kunstmatrix 2021). This has been useful, as well as fun. it is clear that I need a board of text to introduce myself and explain what the project is about. Just showing images without any context might be a little baffling.
The space for each participant is limited, however, and is likely to be no more than 1.7m to 2m wide depending on position in the gallery. This means a tight edit of no more than 6 or 9 images. At present I am thinking of mounting my images in frames of 40cm x 30cm. This should leave room for two or three rows of images three-across with a text board beside them – and still fit into 1.7m if necessary. That is the plan, but there is still a degree to which the space itself will affect the outcome. For example, I won’t know until I visit and talk to the gallery staff whether a table stand with my book is feasible.
However, a website and a book are different things and need different approaches to story-telling and presentation. Although the website is similar to the book in content and shows mostly the same images, I have done more to locate the material geographically with my local audience in mind. For example, there is a popular circular walk through some of the villages I cover and a website can give the up-to-date details and generally connect with a wider world.
A key factor here is marketing. The website includes sections on the book and on news, so it also functions as a marketing tool. I can update it with events, exhibitions, more images and so forth as the project progresses. The website can act as a hub that I can reference back from social media like FaceBook and Instagram. So, while the website is a story in its own right, its greater purpose is to reach more people and to put the work out there.
I have chosen the Adobe portfolio system because it is clean, simple and I already know how to use it. My main portfolio is housed on another Adobe portfolio site (markcrean.myportfolio.com). Compared to a WordPress solution, this is a low-maintenance choice which is another factor in its favour.
I am now working on my Final Submission which I was able to discuss with my supervisor a few days ago.
A proof copy of my book has just arrived which is very exciting (Crean 2021). The designer and I will check it for colour, missed typos and so forth before ordering a run of copies but in fact it all seems to have come out very well and there are no obvious infelicities that I can spot. This is certainly a benefit of working with an experienced graphic designer.
CREAN, Mark. 2021. Common Land: The Legacy of the Oxfordshire Rising of 1596. Collection of the author.
Figure 1. Mark CREAN. 2021. A printed copy of the book. From: Mark Crean. 2021. Common Land: The Legacy of the Oxfordshire Rising of 1596. Collection of the author.
Figure 2. Mark CREAN. 2021. A spread from a printed copy of the book. From: Mark Crean. 2021. Common Land: The Legacy of the Oxfordshire Rising of 1596. Collection of the author.
Now that I have a final pdf of my book, I have set about writing submission letters (as emails) to photographers to ask them if they might look through it and comment. This is all part of putting the work out there. Besides, informed feedback is invaluable. My project will not be complete for another six months, and suggestions and views now will help me to shape the final result all the better.
I think the key is only to approach photographers with whom I feel an affinity and whose practice I am at least in part familiar with. It is very important to avoid anything that suggests a ‘spray and pray’ approach. I have therefore made only a short list, but of people whose work I really admire. I have also approached my fellow members of Oxford Photographers here, although I do know most of them quite well, as well as a local journalist and a curator. I will be putting the details in my FMP submission.
A great help in composing letters has been Tom Seymour’s Falmouth Lecture on how to pitch one’s work effectively (Seymour 2020). I have largely followed his advice, sticking to the who, when, what, where and why of the matter.
I have also made sure to study each photographer’s work, particularly their recent work, and to check publications like the British Journal of Photography, LensCulture, Source and so forth to see whether they have had any recent articles. I have then said something about their work or an article in each letter. This really matters, I think. It shows that one has taken the trouble to do research and gives a reason that one is approaching this particular person. Thus each letter is different. While this may take more time to prepare, I think that in the long run it will pay dividends. No one likes ‘mass mailings’.
It feels good to have done this and in time I think that most folks will reply, too.
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