The Campaign & Me
My name is Jason Wilde and I am a photographer based in London, England. Since completing my MA Photography at the London College of Printing in 2002 I have continued to develop my photo-documentary practice.
This is a campaign to raise money to publish a documentary photography project into a photobook called 'Vera & John'. The project is about my mum and dad and is an authentic and unique social record of intimate family life in the London Borough of Camden.
Vera and John
Vera, the youngest of three girls, was born on July 7th 1940 in Somers Town in the London Borough of Camden. A few days after her 14th birthday she started her first full time job on a production line in a biscuit factory. Vera then went on to work in a needle factory, a lightbulb factory and after a short stint checking football pools, she juggled a number of part-time cleaning jobs with motherhood.
John, the second youngest of 9 children, was born on September 28th 1938 in Penrith, Cumbria. In 1942 his parents divorced and John was sent to a boys home where he stayed until 1953. In the same year John started full time employment cleaning steam engines for British Rail. At 21 he transferred from Carlisle to London where he was promoted to a railway Fireman, shovelling up to three tone of coal a day into a steam locomotives firebox. After five years as a Fireman John became a Train Driver, retiring in 2004 as a Train Driver / Train Driver Instructor.
Three years after they met in 1960 Vera and John married and moved into their first home in Somers Town; a 'two room gas & electric’ in Polygon Buildings that shared a doorless washroom housing three concrete sinks, three cold taps and three toilets, with five other homes on their landing. Their second home was on the same street as Polygon Buildings, while their third and current home is a stone’s throw from both, and is where their three children grew up. Vera & John are my Mum and Dad.
The idea of making a project about my mum and dad came to me while visiting their home in 2005. With no one home I had a rummage through the fridge and food cupboards before making a nice cup of tea. Leaning against the wall next to the kettle was a note. I had been collecting notes since 2003 for a different project (called ‘Silly Arse Broke It’) and realised that this single note outlining that evenings dinner arrangements was a potential project.
Between 2005 and 2014 I collected 91 of these notes addressed to John (and the odd one to Sarah). These tender and sometimes abrupt messages outline Vera’s diverse roles as a woman, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, mentor and hub of a complex and close-knit family. They also underscore John’s equally important and supportive roles, happy to let Vera take the lead and fill-in when needed.
The Paving Stones
The last year has seen me photograph over 4000 paving stones for use as backgrounds to the notes. The idea for paving stones came out of a desire to add a colour and graphic element to the notes, and to anchor Vera & John’s story to Camden.
The paving stones were photographed on streets that have a connection to Vera and John. These worn, dirty and colourful slabs of stone trace the experiences of five generations of my family in the London Borough of Camden, mapping the streets where our lives have played-out over the last 100 years.
'Vera & John' and Social History
Since the invention of photography our collective social history has been recorded on camera by countless photographers for all kinds of reasons. These photographic archives become windows into other times and places that help us understand ourselves and others.
By layering the photographs of notes over the photographs of paving stones, I have created a collection of still-life montages that offer a unique and intimate take on London’s working class culture. With its focus on the everyday, the ordinary, and the commonplace, I feel that a ‘Vera & John’ book would make a worthy addition to our collective visual and social history.
Why a Photobook
Apart from the fact that good photobooks can be beautiful objects and stand alone works of art, there are a number of other reasons why I want to publish a photobook.
- ‘Vera & John’ is a personal story that is best suited to the intimacy that comes with a photobook.
- A 'Vera & John' photobook will make this project part of our collective visual and social histories.
- In an age where most of our images are low quality digital, impermanent and easily deletable, an expertly printed photobook, with the emphasis on fine details and vibrant colours, is THE way to appreciate this project.
- A photobook enables me to develop Vera and John’s story and extend the meanings of the individual photographs through a refined and ordered image edit.
- A photobook allows the layers of meaning to unfold and the viewer time and space to properly get to know the work.
- It is essential that all sectors of society can access and have a say in the stories that are recorded, collected and archived.
Why Back This Project
By contributing money to this project you are helping to make 'Vera & John' into a book and part of our collective visual and social history. In return for your contributions each backer becomes the owner of a beautiful book that is a small piece of our social history.
In addition, over the last decade I have been working on a variety of projects that focus on London's rapidly shifting social landscape. Along with a number of solo exhibitions and selection into photography festivals, several of my photographs from these projects have been exhibited in the Tate Modern, the National Portrait Gallery and in the Museum of London. A 'Vera & John' photobook will build on the success of these important career milestones. Link to full bio
The Book Format
The ‘Vera & John’ photobook will consist of 30 images on 60 pages. The size will be 250mm x 320mm while the binding will be softcover. A successful fundraising campaign will enable me to print 500 copies. The below mock-up images show the 'Vera & John book design. Link to book edit images.
- TPS: 250 x 320 mm portrait Binding: Paperback section sewn with a printed laminated cover with front and back flaps
- Extent: 60pp printed as: Litho 4 colour process + varnish seal on 170 Silk coated paper
- Cover: 300 gsm artboard C2S Printed Litho 4 colour process + Gloss Lamination on outer cover
'Chicken & Chips & Peas' reward print choice: This link is to the 30 images that you can choose your reward print from.
'Mince Onions & Dumplings' reward print choice: This link is to the 51 images that you can choose your reward print from.
'Mince Onions & Dumplings' and the three Work-In-Progress Dummies.
1st Dummy: ‘10 x 8 inch Blurb’ (She Does Love A Spud) - ‘She Does Love A Spud’ is the original working title for this project. This 35 image edit (Vera & John book 30 image edit) reflects my early ideas for the project with the notes layered over blue/black backgrounds.
2nd dummy - ‘Original A4 Prints in a Clear Pocket File' - This is a 47 image edit (Vera & John book 30 image edit) and includes a previous front and back cover design.
3rd Dummy: ‘10 x 8 inch Blurb’ (Vera & John)' - This 38 image edit (Vera & John book 30 image edit) includes a previous front and back cover design and a work in progress version of the text.
These three ‘work-in-progress’ dummy books illustrate the key stages from initial book idea to final book design. All three dummies are original one off's.
'Fried Potatoes, Cold Beef, Grilled Tomatoes and Beans’ and the full set of 30 Images. This link is to the 30 project images that will be printed as part of this reward.
'Steak & Chips' and the four Reward Prints
Thank you very much for your interest in my project and for your contributions. They are very much appreciated.
Risks and challenges
There are three people working to making 'Vera & John' into a book.
The Graphic Designer: Vladimir Valente has a number of years as a senior designer with print and production experience independently and alongside renowned London design studios.
The Printer: Graphicom - specialise in high quality Litho printing and book binding with many years experience printing books for photographers, museums and art galleries.
Me: As a photo artist I have many years experience of funding and producing photography projects that have been used for a variety of media - from print publications to personal exhibitions. The commercial side of my practice has also seen me collaborate with a number of creatives across different fields, including printers and graphic designers.
Between the three of us we are very confident we can make 'Vera & John' into a beautiful book.
- (30 days)