The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust is an organisation I have been in touch with since the end of 2017. When I started my Masters I was considering where my practice lay and a large part of this resides in my interest in making physical items such as prints and books. I learnt a lot of skills whilst working at a photography lab but I always wanted to push myself, especially with learning more analog methods and techniques for producing better quality products, both for myself and for others. Whilst I was considering this practice, along with photography as a craft, I came across this funding opportunity. I submitted at the beginning of 2018 however I failed to adequately budget and explain what I required the money for so my application did not get accepted. One of the staff at QEST did get in touch and let me know that they really enjoyed my application and that I should re-apply during their next intake (screenshots included).
I re-applied with a very similar application, just updated with a number of funded activities (which I had been assured could be changed if needed) in August 2018. I have included the various parts of this application below. There was a focus on bookmaking and involved printmaking processes.
A few weeks later Max got in touch to tell me I had passed all the stages and would have to come in to interview. At this point I put together a portfolio of books and prints. My first Albatross Dummy was a little battered so I made a new one with a slightly altered edit, amended text, and better quality build (also a clothbound sleeve to keep it in). I knew roughly the quality that was needed to impress in a situation like this so I was sure to make an edit of prints that could hold it’s own. I took a selection of colour hand prints of my own work and a black and white hand print I had previously made a photographer called Maria (shown below).
During the interview I was faced by six judges, each high up from their respective specialities (one was even the Crown Jeweller). We talked extensively about the varying aspects of what I do, primarily the bookmaking aspect but also including producing prints and it’s relevance to contemporary photographic and visual culture. I know that Steve Macleod from Metro is part of this organisation and had to back out of this interview due to the conflict of interest however for reading between the lines I get the feeling Steve put in a favourable word for me. The interview went well and one week later I received an e-mail saying I had been awarded the money.
Since then I have changed around the funding amounts to cover more of my Masters allowing me to stretch my money further into next year meaning I can continue to focus on making my work. I was incredibly grateful and indebted to QEST as it has put me in a much more favourable position (I managed to pay off an ever increasing credit card bill).
I used part of the QEST grant to fund a printing workshop with Tim Richmond. I decided to put this in my proposal when I had just started to print in the darkroom and as such, I felt like I had a lot to learn. In between that time and receiving the grant however I printed a lot, spent a lot of time working on my images and had created a small portfolio of the folly work. So, when it came to the workshop, I felt it may be not the best use of the money. I decided to do it anyway and to quell any feelings of arrogance, because the chances were, I did not know as much as Tim.
I went to Tim’s house just outside of Exmoor, a beautiful old Cider Press. We talked extensively about my work, what I felt it was looking at, and my process. We predominantly talked about my process all the way from exposing of the negative through to how this affects the print. It was a really good two days with time where we talked around the technical and more abstract elements of making the work. Because I knew a lot about the printing side Tim tried to show me different ways of doing things. We printed negatives that were harder to print due to differing light situations, colours etc. It was insightful to see how someone else may print my images. He included more casts than I would be comfortable with, and we discussed what this would change about the images. On the second day we had a long chat about making work commercially. One of the main things that stuck with me was how Tim described working for others on assignments. He enjoyed working more like a cinematographer than a photographer, his mantra appeared to be to light the room rather than to light the subject matter, then you could move around the room more organically. I enjoy this sentiment and will try and consider it in future situations. We also broached conversations on the industry, his movement into personal work from commercial, publishing a book and the varying questions around cost and editioning. Both of us agreed on the increased importance of limited runs, although I feel I have more of a slant towards quantity to get my work out there as well. This may be because I have not yet published a book yet. The two days with Tim were well worth it and I can move forward with lots more to think about.
Moving forward with these ideas I am also working on making a limited print run with photographer and Cereal magazine founder Rich Stapleton. I will be printing his black and white fibre-based prints from now on. This is something that I hope to help inform my own practice and considerations around printmaking and selling.
In addition to this I will use more of the money to take part in a workshop with Alec Soth and Fotofilmic in Vancouver. This will be shown in a separate post.