This year, in the true spirit of Christmas, we’re doing the Miniclick Photobook Advent Calendar where we’ll look at a different photobook, newspaper, magazine or ‘zine we like by someone we’ve worked with in the last 12 months, right up until Christmas Day. To view the Advent Calendar picks so far, click here.
Day 18 – December 18th
Brian David Stevens has worked with us no less than three times this year. First for the panel discussion on portraiture and Tim Andrews “Over The Hill” project, then for the panel discussion in London at Anise Gallery on contemporary British landscape photography and then for our Paper Fair in November. He’s a good friend to us! He’s worked closely with Cafe Royal Books as well, and behind door number 18 is his Tyburn Hemp publication…
“Why is it there? Why at the North-East corner of London’s Hyde Park?
Felons brought condemned down Tyburn Street through jeering cheering crowds in open-backed stake-carts would make their final declaration, their last testament, to those pressing to get a better view at Tyburn Hanging Tree. And this last crowd had come to be impressed. A hanging was a public holiday. A good hanging was carnival.
The Hanging Tree is gone these last few hundred years. Instead there is now Marble Arch and traffic roar.
But still they come. And still they come to be impressed.
Sometimes they are.
For this is Speakers’ Corner, recognised by UK Act of Parliament in 1872 and since protected, guaranteed — and where taboos and institutions and whole systems of belief, control, and power are laid open that you might grasp something else, some higher “truth” that’s being hard-sold and traded-on in rhetoric and tub-thumping and heckler’s best invective. You’ve got proof. You’ve refutation. You’ve got passion, lunacy, conviction. And quite frequently a fair few massive, pathway-crushing crowds waiting for spectacle, for argument that leads back to one or another of those in the thick of it finding they’re caught up in their own logic as once a felon was in Tyburn’s finest hemp.”
The body of work Brian presents here consists of images of speakers corner in Hyde Park, where people can come to present and debate (almost) any subject they like. It’s one of those places I’ve never been to, but heard so much about so it’s almost mythical. That’s the pleasure of the work here, shining a light on a place that is still very much alive. In his contrasty, black and white images Brian shows the passion on show, both from the speakers and the crowds that gather, although my favourite image is the first one, of a lone man on a ladder, under and umbrella.
As with all of Cafe Royal’s superb output, the publication has a really nice 70’s pamphlet / ‘zine feeling to it. Images are full bleed, occasionally spread over a double page. We have a massive respect for what CRB do, producing quality, well laid out, affordable books. It’s well worth checking out the rest of their catalogue.
Tyburn Hemp comes in at 28 pages, and is limited to 150 copies. It costs £5 from here.