We featured Manchester Metropolitan University graduate Phoebe Kiely some time ago and since then she's been occupied with making some new work. She's been nominated for the MACK First Book Award and is now one of the British Journal of Photography's Ones to Watch.
University: Manchester Metropolitan University
They were my Landscape is an evolving series of work, it comprises an endless amount of images and sequences.
Showing a personal exploration of Kiely’s surroundings, she makes images based on instincts, presenting mutable fragments of her life. Memorialising moments from the profound to the mundane.
Light and truth embodies each tangible print.
You were Featured on Photograd back in 2016 and we know you've been busy since. Tell us about your new work. It's changing all the time. The beauty of They were my Landscape is that it is never fixed, there is not one single edit. It's an ever evolving series.
The 2016 work still has its relevance, a select few of the 2016 prints have made the final edit of the book. For me there is a different feel to the new work, possibly just because I know when it has been created.
How did this opportunity arise? Early 2017 I was nominated for the MACK First Book Award. I had very few expectations of this award, I feel like it isn't good for me to expect too much. This saves disappointment later on. However, on the back of this nomination I was invited to meet Michael Mack. That meeting was a pivotal moment in my life, my career.
The work had not just been validated, but embraced. Knowing that the following year my book with MACK would be launched was beyond words.
Talk us through the process of making your photobook. What hurdles did you come up against? From the beginning of the conversation about the publication it was decided that prints would be used, rather than negative scans, this proved challenging.
Most of my prints were considered. A few prints were discarded before the edit began but most of my prints were thrown into the mix of possible images for the book. Most of the prints were created during my residency at Open Eye, 2016. However, nearing the end of the editing process there were a great deal of new images considered.
Banding is a term I had not heard before. It is something that happens to the image when the print is scanned digitally. This happened on certain images, this was probably the biggest problem. But thankfully this has been overcome.
How would you describe this series of work? It's an archive of sorts, of feelings. Instinctual images created in response to the world around me. Black and white prints, hundreds of them but thousands of more in negative scans. A great deal of images haven't yet been committed to print. But some may come to light one day, some may be considered at a later date. The edits are fluid, they always have been. This book presents the largest and most solid edit I have ever committed to, and the edit which I am most excited to show.
Name some photographers who continue to inspire your imagery. I am sure from the first moment of being introduced to photographers their work seeps into my unconscious and has influenced the way I work. I have admiration for Robert Mapplethorpe, Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin, William Eggleston. Inspirational photographers aside, I do believe that the way that I live, the way that I interact with the world through photography I will continue to feel inspired and will continue to thrive making photographs.
You have a very free way of working and finding subject matter that appeals to you, so how did you go about making a final edit? Several edits were made over the course of the year. It was difficult to begin with. Committing to edits is the most difficult thing for me. The work is always evolving, new images are always being created. It was a blessing that I had a year to prepare for the book, images were made with the knowledge they could make the book, this only made me more productive. There are several images in the book which were made very close to the final edit. Therefore, the final edit I created at MACK studio was the edit which made the most sense. All prints were carried to London and there was a huge number of prints considered. Once the images had been filtered down the edit started to form.
Have you got any tips or advice for others? Have integrity.
Both physically and emotionally, what's the outcome from this process? Emotionally and physically it's been a rollercoaster. The book process has been enlightening and all kinds of wonderful.
Juggling the day job and the life I am being pulled towards has been the emotional and physical challenge.
What do you think the future now holds for you and your work? I feel like I'm on the verge of something very important and that only makes me want to create more work, and I know ultimately I will create more.
I hold a lot of dreams close. Published by MACK was one of those dreams and that has been realised, which almost feels unreal. Who is to say what will happen in the future.