When I was offered the position of Photographer in Residence at the Tower my initial corcerns were about display. How was I going to show the finished work in a place where every wall was an artifact, where every room was a display in its own right?
For a quite a while I toyed with ideas of an installation piece, or some form of artwork that would fit into the fabric of the building. This was basically an impractical idea due to the amount of permission and work involved in doing the slightest thing to the fabric of this world heritage site, to hang a single picture would involve a lot of paperwork and reasoning (and of course time).
Also part of the residency brief was to broaden audiences, so the work needed to reach further than its normal visitors.
For me, after much thought I realised I wanted the work to be purely photographic, I am the first Photographer in Residence rather than Artist in residence so I knew I wanted the work to be a very photographic response to the location.
After I realised this I put thoughts of display to the back of my mind and focused on making the work.
Where the work would go only really raised its head again when time came to print the work, budgets needed to be allocated before the end of the financial year and suddenly a deadline was looming. The work was printed and frames commissioned with ideas of displaying the work in a corporate events space within the Tower of London. With my final edit made it was decided that the photographs would work best in a gallery space outside of the Tower where it could be used to display the residency to a wider audience who would veiw it in a contemporary art setting.
So at the moment we are still looking.
This illustrates an element of creating work that is often overlooked, the idea of the actual exhibition, where it will be shown and how it will be seen. Without going into it too deeply: an audience aproaches work in a diferent way depending on where the work is shown. This means that they will read the work acording to the expectation raised by its location. For example, you walk into a modern art gallery and see a sleeping attendent in a chair and question whether this is a sleeping member of staff or is it art? Would you ask yourself the same thing if it happend in the Tower of London?
When you enter a heritage site like the Tower of London are you more open to the possiblity that everything is historic?