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  • Writer's pictureJo Sutherst

Informing Contexts – Format 17

Visiting Format 2017 in Derby with members of my cohort exposed me to contexts of displaying work and a photographer( Julia Fullerton-Batten) that I was previously unaware of.

Contexts of Display

Format Catalogue


Figure 1: Sutherst 2017


Figure 2: Sutherst 2017


Figure 3: Sutherst 2017

Published on thick card-like paper, this catalogue is beautifully bound and left so that you can view the stitched binding.  The pages lie flat when opened, allowing you to view the images and not feel concerned that you may break the spine when doing so.

A sans serif font is used through out and this aids the reading of the text.

The images are presented on white pages and the text section detailing the open call texts is printed on red pages. The feel of the pages and colour scheme make this a great way to record the festival.

QUAD Displays

Figure 4: Sutherst 2017

Figure 4 is a montage of images I took in Quad.  I was fascinated how within the gallery space, each body of work had it’s own identity.  The only demarcation between each one was space.  Work was presented in many ways:

  1. printed on self adhesive sheets and stuck directly to the walls, showing up all defects in the wall surface

  2. in frames, the pictures held in place with nails or tacks

  3. Mounted in frames with no visible fixings

The work was displayed on walls that were painted white, wallpapered with brightly covered images, displayed on large screens or mounted on plywood boards.

This really opened my eyes to how work could be displayed in a gallery context.  I had not considered sticking work directly to the wall or using a fixing that would damage the surface of the print.

Pearson Displays

Figure 5: Sutherst 2017

Figure 5 shows a montage of images I took at the Pearson exhibit.  This a a property that appears a bit run down on approach, and once you get inside that impression is increased.  There is peeling paint and signs of neglect all around.  Yet in amongst all the decay is a stunning exhibition of work.  Like at Quad, the work is mounted in different ways.

  1. Prints stuck onto foam board that slots together like a giant jigsaw

  2. Work printed onto acrylic and then fastened to chipboard sheets with roofing bolts

  3. Work printed on acrylic, held by thick pine frames and mounted in a window so that the image is backlit

  4. Work mounted in incomplete frames that are manufactured from chipboard but painted to look like stone

  5. Translucent images (printed on polypropylene?) hung in the windows like curtains

  6. Prints stuck to the walls

Like Quad, this exhibition has really given me food of thought about how my work could be displayed in the future.

Cathedral Green Display

Figure 6: Sutherst 2017

The outdoor display really captured my imagination.  Figure 6 shows a montage of images from the exhibit. I have often mused that my work could displayed outside in cubes.  I have the vision that my cubes could be suspended somehow, unlike this exhibit which allows you to walk on some of the photography.  I felt part of the work, completely immersed in the exhibition.

Pickford’s House Display

Figure 7: Sutherst 2017

Figure 7 shows two of the photographs featured on the top floor of Pickford’s House.  These photographs are printed onto cotton fabric and suspended from hollow tubes placed in a hem section at the top of the image.  The rest of the exhibit is placed around these images, stuck to the walls. The fabric moves as you walk around it.  This is a really effective way of displaying key pieces of work in a gallery space.

Photographer – Julia Fullerton-Batten – Feral Children 2015

A series of photographs that form part of Fullerton-Batten’s series of 15 photographs that portray documented cases from around the world.  Her staged images take a dark look at how some children are forced to grow up in unusual circumstances.

As Fullerton-Batten explains (, 2017) “My idea was not to replicate the exact scenes, but to interpret and duplicate the feelings and actions of each feral child living their experience.”  Her intent with the images is clear to me.  She has managed to beautifully stage and produce images that are detailed and full of colour.  


Figure 8: Julia Fullerton-Batten. Prava (The Bird Boy), Russia, 2008. 2015

Figure 8 was the image that caught my eye and stood out for me in the exhibit.  Prava was found as a 7 year old in Russia.  He lived with his mother who kept him confined in a room with all her pet birds.  There were bird droppings and feed all over the floor.  To the mother, Prava was treated like one of her pets.


Figure 9: Sutherst 2017

His only communication was to chirp like a bird.  He had had no communication with humans until he was placed into a centre for psychological care in Russia.  Fullerton-Batten’s use of a model with a lazy eye adds to the image in my opinion.  Figure 9 shows an image I took of the work to show the detail in the work.  I did have quite a few discussions with members of  my cohort about this image and the series in general.  Others felt that Fullerton-Batten’s choice of model here was disturbing as the message she portraying in their opinion is that the subject of the photograph is one who has learning difficulties and is unable to do anything of themselves.  I see it differently.  Prava was raised with birds alone, without communication with humans.  I think that what Fullerton-Batten is portraying here is a young boy who is (in his mind) a bird.  His tilted head and squinting eyes remind me of birdlike behaviour.

Many of my peers found the work too contrived and sensationalist. I enjoyed looking at this work and can appreciate the skill of the photographer in constructing each image to tell a story.

Prior to Format, I had been unaware of Fullerton-Batten.  She is definitely on my list to research further.

REFERENCES (2017). FERAL CHILDREN, 2015 PHOTOGRAPHY FROM JULIA FULLERTON-BATTEN. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 April 2017].

Figure 8: Fullerton-Batten, J. Prava (The Bird Boy), Russia, 2008. 2015. From Kail, E. (2017). Dark and Disturbing Photos Illustrate Stories of ‘Feral Children’ – Feature Shoot. [online] Feature Shoot. Available at: [Accessed 10 April 2017].

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