BOP – BRISTOL BOOK FAIR – MARTIN PARR FOUNDATION

BOP Link – Martin Parr Foundation

BOP Book Fair ran over two days at the Martin Parr Foundation – 19th/ 20th October. I attended the People’s Vote March in London on the 19th so I attended on the 20th.

I knew all the talks were booked up so I wasn’t fixed to any certain time to attend, but I was frustrated that I hadn’t thought further ahead as I would have loved to see Mark Power’s talk. I was feeling quite rough the day I went and the 40 minute bus journey there didn’t help, so the energy that I could afford to spend on the fair was small. But it was still an amazing event with a very diverse and innovative collection of books that showcased some of the staples of current photography.

I found that I enjoyed the foyer of the RPS Gallery the most, as it included Dewi Lewis publishing beautiful books such as Louis Quail’s Big Brother, a pleasure to look at for its simplicity and curation of images. Merrie Albion by Simon Roberts was great to see in person after studying for my current project, the scale is something I had not considered and found it was definitely needed to showcase the images clearly. It was also great to see Jon Tonks’ book Empire in the flesh, but only made me slightly more starstruck to see him walking around uni! The depth of detail and images even in a quick flick-through is overwhelming and speaks to the contexts of the book.

Dewi Lewis Publishing

Of course the MACK stand as well had a great selection, a new artist for myself was Alan Huck with his book I walk toward the sun which is always going down‘ a slow moving integration of text and imagery in an intimately sized book, paperback and with a clever gatefold page on the front that could potentially become a bookmark set my mind thinking to various ways of bookmaking that go beyond the standard hardback, sequential layout.

This was only made stronger when I went upstairs to the bigger RPS gallery, I was finding little hidden gems in presentation: matchbox style boxes with image inside, zines printed on cheap and cheerful machines; it was all coming together to create the reality of photography in my head: the output can literally be anything, the only limitation seems to be what you can think of. I had a great chat with one of the publishers which I cannot now identify, but he was making small zines himself, working with affordable printing and selling. These felt so important in the grand scale of things, communicating photography exactly the same way and we spoke as such; the importance of the output is potentially not always as important as the actual images communicating well.

More standard well known publishers such as Hoxton Mini Press were also at BOP and I found the mix of publishing houses well thought out, as it really gave a range of low cost zines to books that cost upwards of £100 pounds.

Guy Martin and Mark Power were represented at GOST and however many times I go throguh their work I still fall in love every time – owning a Good Morning America is a dream.

The Martin Parr Foundation Gallery didn’t hook me as much as RPS, but I think my energy was dwindling at this point. Cafe Royal Books hooked me in, again the zines communicating on a different level. I also walked into the back of Stephen Gill unknowingly, apologised a lot and later realised it was him (standing at his stand with lots of people staring at him, who else would it be Onna…!)

The overall experience was great, I only wish I had talked more generally to the publisher representatives, even just to start to understand the vernacular and way of presenting yourself as a professional young student. These kind of events definitely feel important to start attending, even just getting my face out there and tentatively interacting with the industry will help me feel like I can venture into it.

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