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Jason Evans Q&A 03 April 2017

Ahead of the opening of You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat, we caught up with Jason Evans to ask him a few questions about the exhibition….

Most people will know you as a photographer, but this exhibition seems quite different to most of your work – can you tell us how the idea came about?

Thankfully, most people don’t know me at all. While my work has many strands there is a foundation in my relationship with photography that probably colours how I approach my various outputs. In my work I often use photography to combine objects/ideas within a picture, in this instance I am combining objects/ideas in a room. 

Over the last couple of years I have been drawn to these materials which felt both in and out of step with ‘the times’ and I wanted to see what happened when I combined it all, that was the basis for the show. It struck me that there were potential conversations lurking between these things about where we’ve been and where we’re headed.

What has the process of putting the exhibition together been like? Has it been a challenge to think as a curator as well as a photographer / image-maker? 

The process of making the show has been smooth and enjoyable. It is a privilege to be able to materialise my thought processes in Nottingham, which I do not take for granted. I have previously curated shows on 90s British documentary photography and contemporary Japanese Photo Books amongst other things, so it was not much of challenge for me, particularly as Tom Godfrey has been a supportive, and cheerful, sounding board.

What can people expect to see when they enter the exhibition?

No spoilers, that is for them to find out… I can promise a bloody big rope and some narrowboat painting. Some of the exhibition is happening off-site around Nottingham, people could unwittingly find themselves in the audience…

Sounds interesting… can you tell us a bit more about what you have planned away from the Gallery?

If you work in the gallery system one big white room can look and feel pretty much like another, regardless of if you’re in Korea or Canada. I look for a reason to be in a specific place, to find out something about the culture beyond the exhibition. I want to make relevant work. I often invite visitors to take something from the gallery out into the community, so the gallery becomes a point of departure that encourages reflection through participation. 

In this instance [Philip] Hagreen’s work lends itself to reproduction on t-shirts and so his work will circulate locally in that way. I am looking forward to meeting the volunteers and making portraits with them.

Other than it being ideal to reproduce on a t-shirt – what else drew you to Hagreen’s work?

His work feels relevant. Hagreen made his politically charged ‘lampoon’ prints around the time of the second world war, a time of crisis and austerity. As a nation we are currently engaged in war plus we are, arguably, in crisis and we face an imposed austerity. Go figure…

Can you tell us about your binary prints? What inspired these?

I have been working with diagonally divided blocks of colour painted onto the wall since my first solo show in 2008 and it was the right time to turn this process into objects. I had them industrially screen printed onto display board using a colour palette culled from a Japanese commercial design guide. To me they look like signs, and belong to a colour-way described as ‘pretty’. They are reductive image/text pieces, each one has a two word title, though it remains ambiguous as to which word relates to which colour, a subjective response is encouraged, in that way I think they are photographic.

Your photos often have a similar graphic quality to them in the use of contrasting colours and shapes – is this something you thought about when making the prints?

I guess the way I am hardwired predisposes me to certain aesthetics. While disparate my output has these themes running though it. At times I work in high key ways, enthusiastic for shapes, patterns, repeats, multiples, high contrast and deep saturation… this is one of those times. I also go though periods of producing more nuanced monochromatic work. Last year I got to marry those aesthetics in my Tool Shed Dark Room project.

jason evans wefolk 1 jason evans wefolk 2
Jason Evans, The Daily Nice. Via WE FOLK

Can you tell us how/why you first came across Clark Brothers, and what it’s like working with them/the materials they produce? You produced a zine with photos from inside the shop in 2016 – was this the first time you visited the shop?

I first visited Clark Brothers in 2015. It’s just around the corner from the (excellent) Piccadilly Records in Manchester.

I think you find what you need in life, if you are paying attention, it’s all there in front of you.

The window display caught my eye, it was like I had died and gone to heaven when I walked in, total time warp. I recommend a visit, it’s a very specific and poignant cultural experience. 

Despite the digital/internet transitions of the last 20 years the business has continued to hand produce promotional materials for the trade industry on the premises and has no online presence. I get a wonderful sense of nostalgia in the place which somehow dodges the long shadows of digital marketing technologies and the property development of the Northern Quarter in Manchester. When I took some of their posters to the New York Art Book Fair with the zine in 2016 they sold out on the second day, somehow it’s also ‘right for now’.

Clark Brothers of Manchester, JASON EVANS, 2016 760x505
Jason Evans, Clark Brothers of Manchester, 2016

Any final thoughts about the exhibition?

I am looking forward to seeing how the various elements of the show bounce off each other, and I’m curious to see what the audience makes of my new sculpture and prints, it’s the first time I’ve not shown any photography. I wonder what people will make of the [Dick] Hambidge archive – it’s never been seen before. We are encouraging visitors to redefine and redistribute the content with their smart phones; there are specific photo opportunities within the show and relevant hashtags (#youregonnaneedabiggerboat) are suggested. It’s going to be fun meeting the Hagreen volunteers wearing the special t-shirt edition that we have produced to take the show into the city, and hopefully encourage the city to come and see the show.

You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat will open with a preview on Thursday 13 April, 5 pm – 7 pm. If you would like to attend, please RSVP via email to confirm your attendance.

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Selections from The Serving Library: PORTRAIT OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN / “TRYING TO FIND FLAWS, IF ANY, IN AN ENLARGEMENT OF A SUPERDOLLAR” 17 October 2018

Ahead of our next exhibition, The Serving Library v David Osbaldeston, we’ll be highlighting just a few of the 100+ framed objects that make up The Serving Library (TSL) collection, along with the accompanying text from TSL’s website. First up »

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Photograph of original etching, c. 1770 / Tony Law, photograph for The New York Times, July 23 2006, 48 x 69.5 cm

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http://www.servinglibrary.org/collection/portrait-of-benjamin-franklin

The exhibition will feature the collection its entirety, with items as diverse as record sleeves, watercolours, woodcuts, polaroids, drawings, screen-prints, airbrush paintings, a car number plate, and a Ouija board. Together, these varied objects decorate the walls of the library to serve as a toolbox for teaching.

The Accumulation of Things featured by 10 Magazine 27 September 2018

Thanks to 10 Magazine for featuring The Accumulation of Things as their 10’s To See.

The feature includes a preview of the exhibition, plus interviews with three of the exhibiting artists »

Joy Labinjo » Evie O’Connor and Julie Greve.

Read the article here.

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