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UCA photography alumnus launches a new photobook

David Moore, a photography alumnus from the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) will be publishing a new photobook The Lisa and John Slideshow this October. 

David Moore studied photography at West College of Art and Design, now UCA Farnham in the late 80s and has gone on to become an internationally recognised photographic artist. In his new book The Lisa and John Slideshow, David returns to his celebrated 1980s colour documentary series Pictures from the Real World, bringing to life photographs from this essential archive.

Jacket Image 'The Lisa and John Slideshow' by David Moore

In a quote about the book, Martin Parr said: “The 80s were a great decade for British colour documentary photography. The Lisa and John Slideshow is unique as it brings to life photographs of the family first seen in Pictures from the Real World and as such is a valuable contribution to understanding this decade.”

Drawn to the medium of photography through Moore’s love of reading music magazines from a young age and growing up seeing images by the likes of Anton Corbijn, he said: “I had always drawn, enjoyed art, and had an interest in the visual, this fused together with my burgeoning political interest and the idea of history being recorded.”

Before coming to West College of Art and Design, Moore had been taking photographs using his b+w 35mm camera, but on discovering photographers such as Bill Brandt and learning about the vernacular of the American New Colour photography, he soon switched to working on colour transparency, something he continued to explore at university. This resulted in an exciting time for Moore, photographing the city of Derby in colour – the photographing of landscapes and social documentary from miners demos.

Moore came to Farnham after being inspired by a feature in a photography magazine: “I came across a spread in the British Journal of Photography that showed a portfolio of works from students at the West College of Art and Design. I was so excited by the aesthetic and energy of this revised and refreshed documentary practice, that I thought this is where I’ve got to be, and applied the following year,” he said.

David Moore 'The Lisa and John Slideshow'

Pictures from the Real World, was the title of Moore’s degree project, which he made during the summer of 1986 into 1987. In 2013 the writer and curator David Chandler wrote the following about the project – ‘It presents working-class life as a strange blend of physical mayhem and inertia. The abrasive square frames of Moore’s camera cut into bodies and objects, much as the rooms themselves struggled to contain them.’

The project stemmed from Moore’s earlier colour work in Derby, which came into its own during Moore’s third year when he decided to continue his Derby photography. Moore took to walking around the city, door knocking people that he knew, to ask if he could come in a take some photographs. Lisa and John’s family was one of the families that Moore photographed.

“I was interested in other people’s lives, and transgressing all sorts of social contracts that would seem unacceptable now, but that’s what I did. Lisa and John’s family was one of the largest families that I photographed and their home was a hub for the community, so it made it easier for me to be there and become part of the melee. It was amazing, considering the intrusiveness nature my presence – using the flash, turning up at odd times. This is why they take precedence in my body of work, as their presence is larger than any of the other families,” explained Moore.

David Moore in Farnham 1987

David Moore at Farnham, 1987

Moore graduated from UCA Farnham in 1988, graduating alongside fellow photographers such as Anna Fox and Paul Seawright and being taught by notable figures in the field of photography.

“Being at Farnham in the 80s was a very exciting time for British photography, and we were fantastically well served by external practitioners. The lifeblood of any course is the visitors from outside, and at Farnham we had a real cross-range of people like Joe Spence, Chris Skillet, Martin Parr, and Helen Chadwick, and the list goes on.  It was a fantastically exciting environment to learn about making,” he said.

So what advice would Moore offer photography students working today: “It's as much about luck as it is about skill, you have to continually lookout for the opportunities. But, try not to compromise, be yourself, and it’s essential to keep working on your own projects. The great thing about studying photography is that it gives you endless skills, soft and hard, to transfer into a myriad of other areas.”

The Lisa and John Slideshow is published on 8 October by Makina Books. The book includes more than 40 previously unpublished photographs and a new essay, Acting Out: David Lisa and John by the writer and curator Val Williams.

The book launch is on 26 September at The Calder Bookshop & Theatre in London. 

For more information about the book visit the Makina Books website.

To find out more about studying photography at UCA visit the course pages.