A huge congratulations to Ashley Buttle, who graduated from BA Photography at London College of Communication last Friday. We met with Ashley to find out more about his time at LCC, his highly acclaimed final project; ‘This Space Contains Work’ and his plans for the future…
What made you chose to study Photography at London College of Communication?
I chose to study at London College of Communication because of a recommendation by an alum of then London College of Printing (now LCC), and because of its really good reputation.
When studying AVCE Art and Design, which was mixed media, I was always drawn to photography. So I studied FdA Photography at the University of Gloucester and then worked for a while. I felt like I wanted to go back and finish my studies, so I joined LCC in the second year.
Did you enjoy the course?
I loved the degree; I took every opportunity I could, including doing a semester in Bielefeld, Germany as part of ERASMUS. This was really good experience that helped develop my way of working.
I especially enjoyed contextual studies, which was run by Paul Tebbs, who is a theoretical tutor. He and the module really challenged my perceptions, and changed the way I thought about photography. We were lucky to have guest lecturers such as Craig Smith and Dallas Seitz, which helped give different opinions and perspectives.
What would you say the benefits of studying in London, and in particular LCC?
Studying at LCC has great proximity to galleries – Whitechapel gallery, TATE and Somerset House to name a few… It was also amazing to make use of all the facilities. Every part of my final project was created at the workshops in Elephant & Castle, including book arts, print finishing and reprographics. The graphic design of my book was also done by a LCC MA Graphic Design graduate.
LCC also houses the Photography Archive Research Centre (PARC), run by the well-respected academic, Val Williams who was also available for crits. I was extremely lucky that Val agree to write the introduction to my book.
I also enjoyed the second year collaboration unit with the BA Sound Arts and Design students. It was in partnership with the National Gallery – one of the lead curators there gave us a brief where we had to respond to the works from the gallery – this was a great chance to work in a different manner.
Tell us about your final project This Space Contains Work…
As a bit of a troublemaker, I was keen to create a project that challenged the notions of the institution. The final major project consisted of a book (edition of 25), installation in two locations, and performance. It responded to photography in many ways without strictly adhering to the traditional ‘photo-essay’ or ‘photo-series’ format. As a result I created bodies of work whose purpose was only to be situated in the book, or a vitrine, and spoken about in the past tense. The work is described or illustrated, but never both at the same time. After completion of the book, copies were donated to libraries and institutions, so that now if you search me on the Tate library, you will find a copy of the book, or if you visit the Whitechapel Gallery Archives it is hidden on the shelves. Two copies were donated into the LCC library, and the Dewey reference code used to catalogue the book was used as the basis for the installation.
During the summer show a plinth holding a glowing plaque, with “709.2 BUT” laser-etched into the surface lay in a custom-built 3×3 meter white space, cordoned off with black rope. By following this clue into the library, you walked past a glass display cabinet, positioned beside other temporary displays of the LCC archive, offering some objects that are discussed in the book. Under shelf-mark 709.2 you could find the book, whose text explores memory, archive, reference, the visual, parody and pastiche. The project’s purpose was to respond to its surroundings, that of the educational frame, and the creation of work within a specified context. The 3x3m installation was positioned on the periphery of the main exhibition, between the main gallery, and the library. The introduction to the book was written by Val Williams, who discusses a project that is mentioned only in the introduction, and neither explained nor illustrated elsewhere, to further play with what can and cannot be explained, understood, or known.
What are your plans after graduation?
I feel like I have really developed from two years ago, the degree has been a steep learning curve. After graduation I want to continue to work in photography and the arts, but not strictly taking pictures, more responding to images. I am also considering to further my studies.