The above piece is part of Jo’s installation of ceramic heads, currently on display at her degree show at Central St Martins (University of the Arts, London) until this Sunday (23rd June 2019). Opening hours are 12–8pm (12–6pm on Sunday).
[T]o keep my juices flowing, I’ve begun writing regular short pieces about things I’ve seen, or stuff I’ve been thinking. I’m steadfastly refusing to call this a ‘Diary’, and it certainly won’t replace my Writing Journal. So, for want of a better name, I’ve decided to call these short pieces Sidelines: lines that I write on the side, so to speak. I suppose they should rightly have been blog posts, but I’m finding writing stuff without the pressure of intended publication rather liberating. Who knows, perhaps some of my Sidelines might make it out into the wider world some day. It seems a shame to write stuff and not put it out there.
Since the newsletter went out, I’ve continued to write my Sidelines, and I’ve continued to wonder what on earth (if anything) I should do with them.
I meant it when I said writing without the pressure of intended publication was liberating. And I definitely don’t want to get into the blogging mindset, publishing each new sideline as soon as it’s written, then moving on. I much prefer to mull things over for a while, and to tinker.
So, by way of experiment, I’ve decided to try publishing my Sidelines retrospectively, in batches, as and when I feel ready to put them out there. I’m thinking, most likely, of publishing them once a month for the month just gone—although this might well change.
Obviously, I have a bit of catching up to do. So, without further ado, let me take you back six months to my very first Sidelines:
I took part in a unique (to me) and bizarre exercise earlier this week, when I was interviewed for a ‘radio’ documentary. I put the word radio in scare-quotes, because the documentary will actually comprise the dissertation of a masters student studying Radio at the University of Sunderland.
The subject of the documentary is Robert FitzRoy, descendant of Charles II, captain of HMS Beagle, friend of Charles Darwin, surveyor, religious fundamentalist, inventor of the weather forecast, Governor of New Zealand, suicide, and a bunch of other stuff. Robert FitzRoy was an interesting chap.
I’m relieved to say the documentary will include contributions from a number of interviewees, so will not rely entirely on my shambolic, rambling contribution. No, this is not my incorrigible, self-deprecating modesty kicking in: I really was dreadful. Performing live has never been my forté; I much prefer to work asynchronously, brainstorming ideas, getting them down in draft, tweaking them to within an inch of their lives, then tweaking them a whole lot more.
I dare say giving interviews is something you get better at with practice. I used to be pretty dreadful at reading out loud, but improved dramatically when writing On the Moor, having discovered that reading your writing out loud is by far the best way to work out what’s wrong with it. But I reckon I’d have to go through a hell of a lot of interviews before the shambolic rambling turns into something half-usable.
Still, though, at least I know what to expect next time—in the unlikely event there ever is a next time!
I’ve been experimenting with some different cover designs for On the Moor. I’d be interested in hearing any feedback you might have. The advice from Amazon is to use big text on the cover, so it can still be read when reduced to a minuscule thumbnail image in their store.
I don’t consider any of these potential covers to be finished yet, but I’ll be very interested to hear what you think. In particular, which, if any, of these covers might tempt you to take a peek inside the book to find out more?
Please feel free to leave your feedback in the comments below, or you can email me, or post comments on Facebook or Twitter.
I can’t speak for anyone else present, but it was personally most satisfying to see a collection of my own photographs hanging next to each other along a wall. In this increasingly digital age, we tend to view photos on our computer-screens and phones these days—which is fantastic, but you still can’t beat a traditional 18"x12" print made out of actual physical atoms.
It was also most satisfying finally to chat face-to-face with the physical versions of several people I’d previously only spoken with electronically, including a number of the Caught by the River crew, and the writers Ben Myers, Adelle Stripe, and Amy Liptrot.
My lasting impression of the day will be, what an awfully nice bunch of people! But it was Hebden Bridge, after all, so what else should I have expected? A yoga laughter session upstairs, you say? Strange you should mention that…
A year later than originally planned, I’ll be putting on my first photo-exhibition next weekend. Nothing too grand; just a dozen images.
It all started in July 2015, when Jeff from Caught by the River emailed to say he would be visiting Hebden Bridge the following week, and could we meet for a beer? It turned out he’d spotted a passing tweet about my project to photograph the bridges in the local area—Hebden’s non-eponymous Bridges, so to speak. Jeff was amused by the idea and wondered whether I’d like to put on some sort of exhibition as part of a Caught by the River event in Hebden Bridge the following January. Of course I said yes.
Then came the disastrous Boxing Day floods that devastated much of the Calder Valley, and the event was postponed. A couple of months back, Jeff contacted me again to say there was to be a Caught by the Riverpoetry and prose event in Hebden Bridge on 21st January, and would I still like to show some photos? Of course I said yes again.
Then the dithering began. How best to display twelve decent-sized photos at a reasonable price? Getting them framed would be too expensive for such a brief event, and would would mean damaging the venue’s walls to hang them. After faffing about for a couple of weeks, not sure what to do, I eventually hit upon the obvious idea of asking my local photographic printers if they had any suggestions.
Like many other businesses in Hebden Bridge, Print Bureau was badly flooded at the end of 2015, but has now recovered—and, indeed, expanded. They suggested a number of different solutions to my problem, and I quickly identified a winner: my prints would be mounted on a semi-rigid foam backing, then laminated. A cheap, light-weight, and durable solution. I have to admit, I was wary of having my prints laminated, but lamination technology seems to have moved on in leaps and bounds, the matt laminate they use being practically invisible.
I should also admit that I geeked-out over all of Print Bureau’s high-tech print-production apparatus. So much so that I asked Jamie Flear to take some photos as my prints were being processed and mounted:
I picked up my finished prints last week, and am very pleased with the results:
I’ve decided to make 2017 my Year Of Getting Stuff Out There (catchy acronym: YOGSOT).
The words ‘stuff’ and ‘there’ are deliberately vague to allow me some leeway. But I aim to keep publishing my work throughout the year, be it individual photographs, reviews, newsletters, articles, or more ambitious projects.