September 3, 2022

FMP – Preparation & Initial Thoughts

I’d like to circle back around to the experience of motherhood for FMP. It’s been the underlying theme of the work for most of the modules so far. Last module I deviated from the topic and whilst it was an interesting detour I feel drawn back to my original way of working.

I am intrigued to explore what it is that leads to a mother feeling a sense of losing herself in the transition to motherhood. From the advice received during pregnancy and the focus on the baby through to all the advice and narrative post birth which can contribute to the mother lacking a sense of trust in her own instincts and ideas.

My vision to achieve this involves incorporating text and image and I’m thinking of using a combination of portraiture and still life to build the visual narrative.

Polyspam by Cristina de Middel

This work caught my attention as it incorporates text from a third party (spam emails) which feels a little related to all the endless information mothers receive from various sources. I’m wondering how the final work will be presented as many mothers receive most of this messaging from online sources (pregnancy apps, google, mum influencers on instagram) and word of mouth from friends, relatives and healthcare workers.

Galbrielle Motola – Equal Difference

This is an incredible project which I’ve been very inspired by. Originally I had an idea to photograph mothers/carers to document and reflect on the unpaid labour that massively supports the economic and capitalist country in which we live. I feel this undertaking would be bigger than I could manage over the next 6 months as I’d originally wanted to photograph 365 individuals as a visual representation of a years worth of unpaid labour. This work by Motola is beautiful and very well considered, I was drawn to how the text accompanied the images, a lot like the work of Diana Karklin in her work Undo Motherhood. I also liked how she took a concept and developed and explored it. Her project took 3 years to complete which again reiterates the time requirements of completing such a project.

Shona Grant

This Is What Hatred Did – Cristina de Middel

‘This is what hatred did’ is the lapidary phrase that ends Amos Tutuola’s novel My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. When it was published in 1954, the novel provoked such violent reactions that Tutuola was obliged to leave Nigeria. Its concluding phrase is the starting point for photographer Cristina de Middel‘s interpretation of the tenebrous story based in the streets of Makoko, a watery slum in the city of Lagos.

The book that has grown out of this project merges Tutuola’s original story with the reality of a country suffering under the heavy burden of African stereotypes. De Middel plays with the double narrative offered by text and image, and the layers of meaning produced by their union. What emerges is a grey zone between documentary and fiction that seeks to cast light upon a complex and inscrutable continent.

Cemre Yesil – For Birds Sake

Looking at past students’ FMP work

Laurence Cawley and

Clare Wilson

Clare’s work looks at similar topics to which I’m most interested in, her FMP project focused on the unseen labour of the pandemic.

Roxana Savin

Isla Fisher

Ross Travail


Photobooks have 3 important elements

1. The system – the concept, the logic – these are all ways of describing the physical construction of the book. The structure and the way the work within the book is presented. 

The system could include fold out pages, have envelopes bound into the spine, it could be made from more than one ‘booklet’. It is type of binding that is used to bring the work together. This structure should reflect the nature of the work – it should tell the story in a certain way. 

2. The object or the physicality of the book – The consideration to the material elements that are used in the making of the book. This refers to the feel of the book and how it is handled. The type of paper or the material used for the pages, the cover material, the binding and the quality of the printing. All of these individual details are what people are looking for, intrigued to understand the reasons behind each of the choices made regarding the materialism of the book.

These physicality choices lead to the final element which is the experience of the book.

3. The experience is so important to me because I really want the presentation of the work to be a part of the work. The structure or the logic of the book tells the part of the story the images alone cannot. 

It is important that we dig into the messages and materials used within a photobook to really understand the decisions made by the author – the time and dedication should not be underestimated.