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In 2014 Alan J. Ward purchased a collection of ‘quarter plate’ glass negatives on a whim, from an Ebay seller in Brighton, that had no provenance. There are about 230 in total, dating from 1914 through to the 50s. Through a few clues offered up in the images and the original boxes they came in, he pieced together the beginnings of a substantial lost family history, that seemed strangely to parallel his own.
Through a forensic research process and an almost voyeuristic obsession with this collection, new photographic work evolved in response to the locations, subjects and objects in the images. Intrigued by the odd, and easily overlooked elements and repeating motifs of the collection, Ward explores the forgotten, lost, ordinary, and extraordinary distant voices and still lives of the archive.
The book includes a companion text by author George Szirtes, 'Gearing: a coincidence', and an interview between Alan Ward and archivist David Govier 'Unlocking the boxes' which explores the role of research in contemporary artistic practice.
Ward is an artist, designer and collaborator based in Manchester, UK. His personal projects and photographic works are based around the subject of ‘place’ and ‘loss’. His published works include: Breaking Ground (Axis Projects) at the abandoned football ground of Bradford Park Avenue, short-listed for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2017; Citizen Manchester (Manchester University Press), a two year artist residency with Dan Dubowitz investigating the importance of Manchester Central Library during its refurbishment; and Telling the Fractures (Axis Projects) a collaboration with poet Helen Tookey. He has recently completed a major sculptural public art commission with artist Neville Gabie for Cambridge City Council, celebrating the birthplace of the ‘1848 Cambridge Rules’, which helped establish the modern game of football.
£30.00 Softback, 240 pages, 240mm x 170m
38 colour and 78 b&w archival photographs plus numerous contextual images
Published in conjunction with Axis Projects
The Double Negative