Presenting Berwick

As submission day approaches, I’ve been giving thought to how I will present my final portfolio of work. Opting for a photo book in my previous project, From The Bottom Up, was a valuable experience, but didn’t allow much time to engage with the process of editing images for print. This time around, I’ve decided to do just this, preparing my images to be printed professionally.

Initially, I’d anticipated producing A2/3 prints to be framed. Simple and aesthetically pleasing, this seemed like an appropriate way to present my images. This is demonstrated with seeming ease in Bojorquez’s work (below). No distractions; we are left with just photographs, and the feelings they evoke. Also, as a commissioned project, this approach seemed to facilitate an even greater focus on the images and, consequently, the exhibition of the church’s assets.

Frame Life. 2017.

Upon reflection, though, this choice seems too obvious. I often gravitate towards this sort of presentation; clean, structured, methodical. These characteristics, however, are not embodied in St Michaels & All Angels Church, Berwick. The church itself is modest, housing the breathtaking creative works of Vanessa Bell, Quentin Bell, and Duncan Grant. The murals themselves are varied, spreading across the interior in no evidently linear fashion. It seems antithetical, then, to present my images of the church in the way initially planned.

A Matter of Framing

The Bloomsbury Group themselves represent something of deviancy and sexual dissidence, but also freedom and expression. This, I feel, should be embodied somehow in the presentation of the photographs. I have outline some of my ideas and justifications below.

Although perhaps not incredibly adventurous in terms of presentation, Bloom’s Framing Wall resonates in regards to this project. The mismatched nature of the layout and frame sizes are interesting to the eye, exacerbated by the use of the entire space filled with photograph. The lack of mounting or margin, the removal of delineated sections or borders, is emblematic of her vision; to explore the connections between the images, ‘leaving the viewer to string together or fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle’ (MoMA, 2015). By creating a space of inclusion through non-isolated images, Bloom invites us to activate by looking closer, and to construct our own connections.

MoMA, 2015. 

A problem with adapting Bloom’s method, however, is the requirement for a place to exhibit the frames as a collective. Other considerations include the cost of frames and large-scale quality prints.

Embracing the church

Although I’m not religiously inclined, I think it’s important to allude to the church in some way in the final presentation of photographs. St Michael’s and All Angels prides itself on community ideals and combining faith with the arts. The former encouraged some reflection on how I could communicate notions of belonging and inclusion that is promoted in the space. Churches often have notice boards outside, whereby ads and messages can be posted by people in local proximity. I thought I could, in some way, recreate this, using a cork board to mount the images after print, imitating a frame but replicating a sort of community feel.

There is something to be said for the temporality of this method. By pinning images to a cork board, it is immediately obvious that these photographs may be removed, damaged, or destroyed with ease. In this way, the purpose of the project is emphasised: the preservation of the murals is mirrored in the fragility of their representation.

My initial vision is demonstrated above in a mock up. The board imitates a frame nicely, but the overall composition doesn’t excite me at present. I’m going to purchase a board and spray paint it to emphasise the images themselves more effectively and to imitate a frame further. I’ll be rather limited in how many photos I can place per board, which may result in having multiple boards (£££), but if it looks professional, it will be worth it.

Sources Used:

Frame Life (2017) [Exhibition]. Galerie Bene Taschen, Cologne. 7 June – 27 July 2017.

Barbara Bloom: Framing Wall (2015). The Museum of Modern Art, Manhattan. 20 November – 20 December 2015.

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