I originally took this portrait at Pakefield bus stop just before the first lockdown in March 2020, on my way home from a two day teaching a session about, funnily enough, bonding photographs to wood at Denes High School in Lowestoft.
Since finishing my project Refugee Stories for PhotoEast in 2019, I had revisited trying to bond digital photographs to concrete surfaces with the hope of taking photography back into the living landscape. I wanted to continue with portraiture, so I had kept my camera in the car, and although it sounds a little odd, I was on the look out for the right face and person. On the way home, I spotted a man standing at the bus stop in Pakefield, on the opposite side of the road so, I drove down to a roundabout and back up the road to speak with him. I hopped out of the car and introduced myself and he told me a bit
about himself too....that he was on his way home from work as a cleaner at the holiday park and that many years ago he "in his younger days" he had been a sea-worker. Malcom wasn't phased by my request to take his photo, he seemed tired but unbothered - I explained why I was taking portraits and shot about 6 photos. We didn't exchange contacts at the time so that was that. Then a week later, lockdown happened and myself and my two children began finding things to fill the void. I needed something practical to do, so my thoughts turned back to concrete and the photos I had taken of the man at the bus stop. After looking through them again, one in particular really stood out, so I went about tracking him down on the Lowestoft Fishing and Oil Industry FB page which sounds a bit odd but there is such a strong sense of community in Lowestoft, I thought someone would know and sure enough a member said they knew his daughter. So through that connection I managed to show Malcolm Wright the photos, which he fortunately liked and gave me his permission to go ahead and use them.
I then began what I didn't realise at the time would be a relationship to an image that has taken up until this weekend, December 2021 to finally complete.
I was very fortunate to receive a Develop Your Creative Practice Grant from the Arts Council this year, specifically to explore the technique in exterior locations. When I visited Epson back in June 2021 I automatically chose the portrait as the focus of my experiments and our technical collaboration - they have been so supportive. Our aim was to make a full colour photograph hold fast to a surface in the outside world using sustainable inks but more importantly take photography out of gallery settings and take it back to either where it was generated or as a way of offering juxtapositions between image and environment. If you would like to view more of my related work, please follow this link - here are a few examples:
Overtime I kept Malcolm posted about my progress, and about his many incarnations by phone; my overlaying a map of the town over his face, so that the streets of the town wrapped around the shape and lines his face, the concrete image at Dunwich Beach and the first colour version displayed at The Photo Show, with Epson UK at the NEC.
A big thank you to East Suffolk Council for helping locate what I think it the perfect spot for Malcolm's gaze and to Anglian Water for allowing me to bond the image to their structure - they have both been brilliant.
During installation many very kind and enthusiastic people commented to myself and my son Stan, who gave me a helping hand, how much they liked it which is a huge boost and makes it all worthwhile. It will be interesting for us all to see and share in how the image and indeed the technique weathers overtime at the UKs most easterly coastal point - I don't live too close by so any photographs of its progress in all weathers would be very gratefully received - please get in touch through this site.
However, if you don't live in Lowestoft and would like to visit and see for yourself - the bonded photo is on the structure below and to find the location follow the link - and if you are looking for a cuppa I suggest going across the way to coffee house at Sparrows Nest Gardens - we had the best breakfast there before starting work. https://www.martellocoffeehouse.co.uk/
Not forgetting, huge thanks to the Tydeman family at Broughton Hall Farm, Stonham Aspal, where I have my studio - they have lent me all sorts of random stuff and enthused about my progress & even allowed me, last week to use the side of one of their barns to prepare for Ness Point : )