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LCC alumni Marc Wilson’s Last Stand up for Terry O’Neil Award

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Published date 17 January 2013

Photographer and London College of Communication (LCC) alumnus Marc Wilson has been shortlisted for the prestigious Terry O’Neill TAG Award. Marc, who graduated from BA Photography in 1994, was selected for his series entitled, The Last Stand, which documents abandoned military defence structures in coastal areas around the UK and Northern Europe.

Between 2010 and 2012, Marc, who used crowdfunding site Indiegogo to find backers for the project, researched over 200 locations and travelled 10,500 miles to capture the images.

The exhibition of the shortlisted photographers is being held at The Strand gallery in central London from January 18th to the 31st.

Below Marc tells us about the inspiration for the project, the journey, and has some advice for young photographers at LCC.

Studland bay, Dorset. England. 2011

My inspiration for the work came out of an older piece of work called Abandoned. This fairly small set of images from about 7 years ago looked at places of social, political and military significance that had been abandoned.

Looking back on the images of old military defences sparked my interest in the possibility of producing a body of work centred around these defences. One that would also look at the way in which they now sat in the landscape; and therefore how the changing and shifting coastal landscape had, and was, affecting these solid concrete structures.

Newburgh, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. 2012

From this began a few months of research into locations, subjects, histories and from this the structure of the project – coastal military defences of the 20th century around the UK and Northern Europe. In total I researched and shot at about 80 locations throughout the UK and northern Europe and currently have 42 completed images. I do still hope to shoot in some more locations – Orkney, Denmark and the west coast of France – but this is dependant on funding.

The journeys themselves were a combination of one day shoots based around the south, east and west of the UK, travelling home at 2 or 3am the following morning, and the more enjoyable, longer road-trips which I was able to do after the successful crowdfunding campaign.

Wissant, Nord Pas De Calais, France. 2012

Portland, Dorset, England. 2011

These trips were a lot of fun. Just me, my Arca 5×4 (camera), 5 boxes of film, Jonny Cash cd’s and my car – 12 days along the French coast and then 8 days in the North east of England and around Scotland.

I would arrive at each location to recce in the late afternoon and find a hotel or b&b for the night. Then up before the dawn to drive, walk or scramble to the site before the sun came up, set up in the dark and wait for the light, fog and often tides to be just right. I’d shoot the one or two sheets of film, pack up, back to the car and drive to the next location. It was quite an odyssey,  really great fun and with lots of fish and chips!

Crammond Island, Fife, Scotland. 2012

Widmouth bay, Cornwall. England. 2011

The best advice I can give to any young photographer is to take every opportunity that comes to you even if you don’t feel fully confident about yourself. I didn’t on a couple of occasions on leaving college and I wish I had.

As for anything from my time at LCP  that has stuck with me? I think how lucky I am to make my living from photography, despite the many occasions when it would have been easier to look for something else. They never taught me that specifically but they did give me the tools to do so. Also don’t think working commercially is wrong. It’s only since I started working commercially six years ago that I’ve had the combination of time and funds to make the work I truly love.

Reigate gap, Yorkshire, England. 2012

Findhorn, Morray, Scotland. 2011


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