Multiple publications celebrated by University academic.
From New York to Newport; Rhyl to San Diego; an academic at the University of Chester is celebrating the publication of his 14th photobook.
Stephen Clarke is a Lecturer in Critical and Contextual Studies in the Department of Art and Design at the University. An important part of his research is the production of ‘photozines’, small A5 photobooks. Stephen explores his extensive archive of his own photographic film negatives, which date back to the 1980s.
Over the last few months alone, he has had no fewer than six photobooks published or re-printed with two independent publishers.
Stephen has worked with Craig Atkinson, the editor and publisher of Café Royal Books since 2014. Craig has become renowned for bringing to light the work of British documentary photographers. He has produced books with famous names such as Martin Parr, John Davies and Chris Killip (who sadly died earlier this month); all key figures in British photography, but he also works with less well-known photographers too. Café Royal Books are collected by important museums and institutions, such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Stephen’s pictures of Rhyl, dating from the 1980s and 1990s, have been printed in four books. Three of these books have been re-printed this year along with a new fourth title, which is out this month. All these books are now available as a collection to buy (https://www.caferoyalbooks.com/wales/stephen-clarke-rhyl-series-four-books).
In addition, another book has been published that focuses attention on a housing estate in Caerleon, near Newport, South Wales, photographed by Stephen in the mid 1980s (https://www.caferoyalbooks.com/wales/stephen-clarke-south-wales-housing-estate-1986). Stephen has previously had another Newport-related photobook published by Cafe Royal Books: Newport Snow 1985 (https://www.caferoyalbooks.com/wales/newport-snow-1985-stephen-clarke)
As well as working with Café Royal Books, Stephen has produced books with other publishers. The book NYC-19XX was published by Out of Place Books. In that, Stephen offers the viewer images of New York City in the 1990s, ‘a city of constant flux transitioning into a new era’.
Stephen explains: “I visited New York City twice in the mid-1990s; each visit was brief, no more than a week long. I had no in-depth knowledge of New York, only the immediate recognition of certain features reinforced by received acquaintance with the city through well-known photographs, television programmes, and the films of mainstream cinema. To find my bearings I photographed specific subjects, such as hot dog and donut stands, the Stars and Stripes, yellow cab taxis, and landmark buildings. Much like the steam that rises from beneath the streets of this city, and makes its presence visible, the unexpected crept in between these ubiquitous subjects. My camera exposed odd corners that were both familiar and foreign. NYC is a complicated grid that fills every space both horizontal and vertical. It is a place that is known and unknown, a place that can only ever be partially seen.”
Currently, Stephen is working on a catalogue of his photographs of San Diego, California – pictures from his time living in the United States in 1986 to 1987. The catalogue has been funded by the University of Chester’s Quality Related (QR) research funding. It will accompany an exhibition of these pictures: Alien resident: San Diego Photographs 1986-1987 – Stephen Clarke, which opens on Friday, November 6 at the University of Chester CASC Gallery (Contemporary Art Space Chester) in the city centre. Visit the website for further details: www.cascgallery.co.uk