Submission: Format 19 Forever//Now (Selected)

Format 2019 - Forever//Now

‘'In 2007, while the photography world was still grappling with the idea of photography as an interpretive, non-narrative, non-representational medium, writer Lucy Soutter wrote about the “crooked” expressive versus the “straight” documentary photograph, insightfully characterising the then two sides of the debate.

Since then photography has grown to encompass many manifestations of the “crooked” image through hybrid forms and visual practises and no longer worries about narrative versus abstraction, expressive versus objective. The new generation of photographic artists rush towards the new, embracing the rapid transformation that technology and cultural exchanges bring to it.

It is such new approaches to photography that FORMAT19: FOREVER//NOW will address during the festival.”

I applied for the Format 19 Forever//Now open call at the end of July, when I had a finished dummy of Albatross and the beginnings of Folly as an edit of about eight images. It seemed appropriate due to my thinking around my work, it’s relation to the theme, and the fact that I had previously shown the works to two of the Judges at photo meet, meaning they already had a grounding in understanding the work. This was the first submission in which I decided to include images of the actual dummy itself, something I feel is important moving forward as it elevates the materiality of the work. Hopefully this suggests that to see the work completely you must see its physical incarnation.

Here I have included my full submission and the images I used to submit.

Project description - 1500 Characters

Often when considering the now, we are drawn to the most contemporary of ideas. What I am drawn to is the notion how these very contemporary patterns mirror what has gone before. Story-telling is integral to our existence, and the nature of these stories is often transcendent through time and place. The contemporary culture surrounding the story changes it’s embellishment, but the same fundamental themes lie within. I am interested in marrying up the repeated story told with a representation of the contemporary, the now. 

Within my works I have been exploring this notion of the story told through the various institutions of our society here in the United Kingdom. These primarily include journeying home with the Royal Navy and conversations with ex-prisoners.

The body of work Albatross follows HMS Daring whilst the warship and her crew sailed home from deployment. The ship travelled back from the Persian Gulf via the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. Sailing back from conflict and unsafe waters there was a feeling somewhere between tiredness and resilience, at once romantic and foreboding, a quiet discordant ambience that ran through the sailors, soldiers and their ship, waiting to get home.

Seeking to further explore institutions I started to research around prisons in the UK. Transitioning from ships into prisons provided a change in working methods but a continuation of my interest in how we tell stories. Less interested in a traditional documentary approach I instead wanted to hear the stories told by those who had experienced prison firsthand, an approach more similar to a folklorist. Meeting with ex-prisoners, I have a relaxed conversation that offers up an understanding of how the inner workings of an institution such as a prison can affect an individual. The works made include portraits and other images informed by the stories told, these other images are made either right after our conversation or whilst exploring the vicinity of various UK prisons.

Installation Description - 2000 Characters

The works are suited to the pages of a book and as such I create handmade artist books containing these images. I would like to show two unique artist books of these works. The books ideally would be shown side by side. I have provided documentation of an example of one of these books along with images from each work in the submission. I was limited in what I could show so please feel free to get in touch if you wish to see more.

It is important to note that I see these works as part of a larger investigation into institutions and story-telling and as such by the time of exhibition I may have enough images from another subject such as schools to provide a third avenue of thought. At this stage there would be the potential of showing either three books side by side or the combination to form one larger artist book. 


Jamie E. Murray is a photographer based in south west England. He received a BA in Documentary Photography from the University of Newport in 2014 and is now studying towards his MA at University of West of England, Bristol. His work predominantly looks at various aspects of institutions, individualism and story-telling in relation to contemporary society and has been exhibited and published internationally. 

Jamie is spending time with the Royal Navy away on deployment photographing within the ships he travels on. This body of work, Albatross, is looking to capture the ambience of these ships, affected greatly by the physical and psychological conditions of the crew.  Moving forward he is also photographing his experience of spending time with individuals who have spent extended periods of their lives incarcerated to gain an understanding of life inside prison.

It was great to hear I have been selected for Format 19! Initially both projects were selected but after some deliberation they have chosen to show the first iteration of the Folly work in book form.