Port Glasgow Book Project

Mark Neville's Port Glasgow Book Project was a revolutionary public art work that sought to challenge notions of ownership, appropriation, dissemination, and political and social division. In particular, it looked at how class and social divide is reinforced through images. Neville's work was exhibited at The Dick Institute in August 2006.

The concept was to produce and distribute a hardback book of 'social documentary' images, with high-production values, that subverted conventional ways in which such books are disseminated as 'art', or 'coffee-table', and questioned the way in which social documentary photography sometimes depends on an inherent framework of exploitation. In this way, rather than have a public artwork imposed upon them, each household was given a book. It was not available anywhere else, commercially, or otherwise. Once delivered, they each had singular ownership of the book, and could choose to cherish it as a social document, discard it, or even attempt to sell it on eBay'. 

Like East Ayrshire, Port Glasgow faces social and economic problems brought on by a decline in local industry; only fifty years ago it was the world centre for shipbuilding, now only one yard remains. 

The exhibition showcased a comprehensive selection of photographs taken from the book, together with a wealth of information about the community response to his ground-breaking project. The show included e-mails, letters, and newspaper articles from the Greenock Telegraph, radio interviews, and a new 16mm film and slide presentation, all of which gave voice to the views of residents of Port Glasgow and was exhibited alongside large hand prints of Neville's photographs. 

Mark Neville is a Glasgow based artist whose work, primarily with film and photography, has been exhibited recently at Tate Britain, Modern Art Oxford, Tramway, Street Level, and the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow.

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