SHORT INTERVIEW WITH ANOTHER GRADUATE SHOW WINNER: LIAM WEBB

Loupe’s first exhibition opens today, sharing the work of 11 emerging photographers selected from our open call by a panel of industry professionals, and curated by our own Sarah Goad. Through the generous support of both Creative Hub and Brick Lane Gallery, we were able to launch the open call and resulting exhibition entirely free of charge, meaning that students and recent grads could enter without restriction. The quality and quantity of work submitted was overwhelming, and the final selection is outstanding. Information about the opening night can be found here.

I had a quick chat with 2 of the winners, to hear more about the work they’re presenting at Another Graduate Show. Liam Webb shares his motivations for shooting Mother Mother.. just after our show launch.

Interview by Harry Flook – 

Harry Flook: What’s the story behind Mother Mother…?

Liam Webb: My mum used to tell me about the smuggling that happened along the coastline where we live, and once she mentioned the discovery of a cavern under one of the beaches. I found out that the mother-in-law of my mums best friend was the person who spotted Robin Boswell, who was one of the smugglers. I became fascinated by the story, so they bought me the operation Seal Bay book which was the polices account of the operation! After reading the book and hearing the stories I wanted to explore the coastline and document this story. West Wales is full of local legends but having a local legend which had national implications felt special, I knew I’d found a real gem to document!

Archival material from ‘Mother Mother…’ ©Liam Webb

HF: The work is a novel approach to storytelling, it seems like you’re inviting the viewer to look through the clues, as though they’re the detective. Can you talk about how you developed this approach? And whose work influenced your process?

LW: I’ve always been interested in crime and crime shows. If I’m brutally honest it was shows like The Bill and Death in Paradise that I loved to watch when I was younger, especially trying to work out who the killer was! Subconsciously I think that I’ve always just loved working clues out and that has now become part of my practice. Whilst working on the project I met with the head police officer who was running the operation who had collected this huge archive of imagery and letters. When he presented this to me I really wanted to use them but not give the whole story away. So I then began to pick key elements out which I could use to help tell the story! Whilst studying at the University of South Wales I was shown the work of Christian Patterson’s Redheaded Peckerwood and that fully changed my idea of what documentary photography could be. Luc Sante described it as “subjective documentary”, and that has really stuck with me. Also the book is beautiful and really made me think about how my work could be presented and how I could use the form of the book to present these archival objects and texts to create a conceptually coherent final piece.

Archival material from ‘Mother Mother…’ ©Liam Webb

HF: What are you working on now?

LW: Mother, Mother… was my final piece for my degree in Documentary Photography at University of South Wales, so at this very moment I’m preparing for our grad show, called Truffle Pig, which opens 20th June at Safehouses Peckham, SE15 3SN.

Photographically I’m about to re-trace the UK’s biggest acid ring which was based on a small farm in mid Wales, Tregaron, which produced 60% of the worlds acid in 1973. The story is amazing and I began working on it during university but feel that I need to go back to it and work on it again! West Wales is full of these mad drug stories due to the huge hippie influx during the 60’s when housing was cheap and people wanted to move from the city to the country side for a free spirit state of mind. It’s left me with some brilliant stories to visualise!

From ‘Mother Mother…’ ©Liam Webb

HF: I asked Megan this question, but I’m going to put it to you too, seeing as you’re Cardiff based. There seem to be so many great young photographers coming out of Wales at the moment. A few new collectives have popped up, and the Uni’s are making a lot of noise. Give us your take on it?

LW: I’m based in Cardiff because of university, but the heart of my work stems from West Wales. I have a real attachment to homeland and have always felt that putting my part of Wales on the photographic map is important. The valleys and South Wales have always been an interest in photography, which has been helped by having the documentary photography course there. It has such a good teaching team, they help nurture students into brilliant photographers, which is obvious when you look at the alumni!

Wales has a rich history and in a time of uncertainty with Brexit I think there is real coming together of the country. We have seen a huge rise in Welsh independence and I believe there is a real proudness to be welsh which is giving photographers the confidence to pursue their projects around Wales!

From ‘Mother Mother…’ ©Liam Webb

Of the other winners of Another Graduate show , whose work is your favourite?

I’m a real big fan of Jamie Murray’s Folly. Especially the image of the bird! The photography is beautiful and I love how he uses the conversations to create something so visual and emotional!

HF: THANKS FOR YOUR TIME Liam, AND WELL DONE ON GETTING SELECTED.

You can follow Liam’s work at: www.liamwebb.co.uk

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Harry Flook is a photographer, writer, and educator working at Hereford College of Arts, alongside writing and editing for Loupe magazine. You can follow his work and words at www.harryflook.com