Adam Murray / NORTH – a new photography publication from UCLan
This month in Collections we are previewing a new photography publication: NORTH – a new annual printed publication produced by students and staff in the Photography Department at the University of Central Lancashire, Preston. Issue 1 will be released in May 2015 featuring a curated selection of the strongest graduate projects, staff research practice and alumni profiles. Launch events will be held on the UCLan campus in Preston, Village Bookstore in Leeds and The Photographers’ Gallery in London.
Below, Photomonitor recently asked UCLan lecturer and part of the founding editorial team Adam Murray more about this new publication.
Christiane Monarchi: What has made you decide to make a print publication at this time, a bold move that sets NORTH apart from what is produced on most other university photography courses?
Adam Murray: During the 2014 summer period, all staff involved with Photography at the University of Central Lancashire met to consider the role of the final year degree show. Until this point we had staged a final year degree show involving all 3rd yr students and then the best projects were selected to display as part of Free Range. This model had been successful for a number of years, however, we began to notice a difference in the interests of the students and questioned the relevance of the traditional model.
Most of the students that we work with are not destined to be displaying work in an art gallery context. The work produced tends to be suited to some kind of printed publication or online based outcome, whether it is a fashion based editorial or a biographical book project. As a brief example recent alumni include Jamie Hawkesworth and Ayesha Jones.
With a non-campus gallery show then comes the inevitable cost of print production, framing and staying in London for the week of Free Range. So it was decided that a printed publication would be a more appropriate outcome and also a challenge to the traditional degree show model. We do work with students who are interested in gallery or installation type display and have spaces to accommodate this, but part of their task will be to provide high quality installation images of their work – an important skill anyway, I think you will agree.
NORTH is being seen as a decisive challenge to the traditional degree show model, one that is more appropriate to the early career practitioners that we work with on the course and an outcome that will identify Photography at UCLan as an innovative place to study Photography.
CM: Who has decided what / who goes in? Is it a curated combination of recent graduates, staff as well as current students’ work?
AM: The course team are making the editorial decisions for NORTH, to create a space that can feature the best of the final year projects, portfolios of work by recent alumni and current staff research projects, therefore providing audiences with a holistic view of the culture of Photography here at UCLan. The launch events will provide students with arguably the best bit of Free Range – the PV evening, and there will be a lasting legacy of the publication beyond just the week of an exhibition.
An element of the course that we work hard to maintain is to allow students to pursue any work that they are interested in. We are not out to produce a ‘UCLan look’ and this is one of the reasons students enjoy the programme. Therefore there will not be a curatorial theme in the sense of a subject matter or photographic approach. The work will be independently selected by all academic staff on the Photography programme from the final personal projects each student produces. These votes are then collated and a selection of approximately 15 strong projects will feature in NORTH.
CM: What are your plans for distribution and circulation?
AM: We are viewing NORTH very much as a photographic publication, not an extension of the university prospectus, so attention to detail is being paid at all stages from design to distribution. Ben McLaughlin has been commissioned as external designer on the project. You may know Ben’s work from collaborations he has done with Theo Simpson and me under the project Preston is my Paris. Initially there will be three launch events; on campus in Preston, at Village in Leeds and The Photographers’ Gallery in London. We are also in discussion with Antenne Books about collaborating with them as distributors, though that is to be confirmed once the final publication is complete. The aim is to distribute NORTH internationally and I am confident that this can happen.
CM: Is this a traditional magazine model, with subscriptions and advertising?
AM: Put simply – no. We are lucky that the university invests resources in the project so we are not solely reliant on generating all the revenue at this stage. The aim for this first incarnation is to make a successful, independent publication. That model then may change over the next few years though as the project grows and becomes more ambitious.
CM: Are there other opportunities to see work from those students not included in this publication?
AM: Throughout the Semester students have been maintaining a NORTH blog and Twitterfeed that features profiles of students and work in progress. The final project outcomes will also have a role in The Great Northern Creative Festival that is taking place at UCLan from 22-25 April 2015.
Adam Murray is a photographic practitioner and Senior Lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire. Adam began Preston is my Paris in July 2009 with Robert Parkinson as a photocopied zine with the intention of encouraging the exploration of Preston as a subject for creative practice and TENT in 2013 with Oliver Whitehead as a platform for photographic practice in Greater Manchester.