Matthew Broadhead, an artist, photographer, and teacher from Bristol, has published a new zine prompted by re-discovering lab scans on Sainsburys CDs from his teenage years.
Adolescent Eye is released on Welford Press, Matthew’s independent publishing imprint or trade name established in 2022. The staple-bound A5 zine, limited to 50, is printed in the United Kingdom on recycled uncoated paper. If you would like to order one, they are £8 and available on Welford Press’s website here. The zine will also be stocked at Good Press Gallery in Glasgow, UNITOM in Manchester, and BOOKS in Peckham, London.
The idea for the zine came from an event where Matthew was sorting through negatives to archivally resleeve them. In the same shoebox as the negatives, he found a pile of Fujifilm CDs full of lab scans from when he was about 17 or 18 years old and studying art at college. The time was around 2012, when he recalls the experience of his sister carrying the Olympic Torch through Torquay. I asked him to tell us more about those feelings of re-discovery, which many of us are no stranger to.
I could say that pulling down the shoebox of negatives was long overdue, but this would not be true. It was ideal for them to have stayed dormant for so long, as that gave me a fresh take on what was inside. By the time CD’s were found sandwiched near the bottom, a plan had already been formulated to spend time digitizing film that had been re-sleeved. Sliding the discs into a drive and looking through their contents was a slightly surreal experience, as I had forgotten ever taking quite a few. Many of the images had a nostalgic look to them, although this mainly made me reflect on my younger self. I had the initiative to capture my life in a way that could only be fully recognised in the present.
He describes the creation process as ever-changing and fluid, even right up until the final moments before printing.
My sister with her Olympic torch was not originally included, however it provided an apex in the story arc that made the narrative feel complete. My working document was fluid until the moment it was exported to print, but there was an intense period leading up to this moment where many important changes were made. This enriched the content and made the end product a more professional outcome. Photobooks can be much more content heavy and expensive to produce compared to zines, which are designed to be more accessible in that regard. It helped that the content already existed, as this saved a lot of cost normally associated with logistics and overheads for shooting new material.
Matthew says he founded Welford Press out of a desire to release publications in a timely manner. The name holds special meaning to his family history.
The ‘Welford’ in ‘Welford Press’ actually refers to a road in Leicester, where my third great grandfather operated photography studios during the Victorian era. If you look at the ‘W’ logo, the thickness of each line is to emulate the main road and side roads coming off of it.
Imprints are trade names used in the publishing industry that can help establish a unique brand identity around similar works intended for a particular audience.
Matthew says, “This imprint is perfect for projects that are niche enough to have a smaller, more specific audience.”
He describes the rapid nature of creation that is possible with zines:
With Adolescent Eye in particular, I happened to be teaching photography in college and archiving my own material at home when we ran a zine workshop. In the classroom we were able to create a zine from start to finish for the students to take home with them the same day. This inspired a rapid creative process from start to finish for my own zine, as the content was already on CD’s ready to be selected and arranged into a new sequence. Although this was initially based on groupings with some photographs serving as ‘bridges’ to new sections, I loosened up to embody a more imaginative visual approach. This is particularly true with the layout, where pictures were placed based on whether I was looking up or down at the subject being photographed. It was important to me that the presentation was playful, as that would mirror the visual aesthetic of work created ten years ago.
Matthew is also a historian. Curious about his thoughts on record keeping, I asked him for his view on the importance of photographs to history, the tangible form of archiving, and what he imagines our archives will look like in the future.
Photographic history is absolutely central to my practice, as we innately keep records even if we have no particular plans for them. My role is to make sense of why we place importance on these artifacts and use them to reveal how interconnected everything is. Even genealogical research starting with a deceased person’s name would radiate outward until we know everything about where they lived, societal norms, cultural traditions and a number of other aspects that tend to be forgotten over time.
It is vital that we create evidence if not just for our own personal remembrance, as these will one day exist in stark contrast to a future present we do not know yet.
As photographic film prices are much higher than they used to be even before development, part of my solution has been to move from medium format down to 35mm using a Leica M6. I also own multiple 5×4 large format cameras for slow studio and outdoors work that take lenses dating back to the 19th century. Having recently invested in a Fuji digital medium format system as well, I have a variety of tools covering most image making purposes.
If you are interested in seeing more of Matthew’s work, then click here to head over to his website. He can also be found on Instagram at @matthew_broadhead. To order the zine, head over to the Welford Press site here.