BOOK Review – Frances Scott Undertow by Samuel Fradley

Its been a long time coming, but after a relatively long hiatus we are back with another book review. Since our last review the world has plunged into crisis due to the Coronavirus, so I am currently writing this in my bedroom, pondering on the events we face, and how this has come to be. Before I dive straight into the book, I just want to say that during this time, we need your support more than ever, so please share our content and visit our shop because it really does help this collective survive.

Today we are going to be looking at another recent publication by the Superb Another Place Press called ‘Undertow’ by photographer Frances Scott.

Synopsis:

“Undertow’ documents the changing relationship between an islander and her home, as Frances Scott walks the coastlines of Orkney, an archipelago situated near the north coast of Scotland where the North Sea meets the Atlantic.”

“An undertow is a current beneath the surface that sets seaward – something which will take hold of you and pull you in, but only if you make the decision to put your feet into the water. This book – a collection of photographs, handwritten notes and map-routes – considers the nature of belonging, and how it can be formed a new, by walking the brink where land meets sea.”

Frances Scott, 'Undertow', Published by Another Place Press, 2020.

Undertow is one of Another Place Press’s best publications to date. Retailing at only £17.00 and with my edition coming with a signed print, you get a whole lot of book for your money. As always with Another Place Press, their books are affordable, well designed and beautifully executed, a fantastic book for anyone’s collection. Undertow features a beautiful white line across the cover, reminiscent of its predecessors such as ‘The Moor’ by Robert Darch, ‘Gap In The Hedge’ by Dan Wood and ‘Black Dots’ by Nicholas J R White to name a few.

Photographer Frances Scott deserves credit for the beauty and simplicity of her imagery. From a cliff face being battered by the sea, to abandoned structures on the land, the imagery is acutely thought provoking and makes you think about the British Coastline and its war time past. The contrasting blacks of the cliff face, to the stunning whites of the breaking waves makes this an enjoyable read for any viewer and I cannot stress that enough. With some photo books, you lose direction, perhaps focus as you don’t understand the narrative, whereas here, in ‘Undertow’, we have a journey being laid out in front of us from beginning to end. It really is that clear, which in my opinion is what defines a successful book.

Frances Scott, 'Undertow', Published by Another Place Press, 2020.
Frances Scott, 'Undertow', Published by Another Place Press, 2020.

Something that also caught my eye upon initial viewing was a lovely A5 fold out at the end of the book, titled ‘North Ronaldsay’. This A5 pull out, printed on a sheet of pink paper, contains sketches, diagrams and notes from the journey taking the viewers experience of this book to the next level, furthering its interactive experience and appeal as a physical object.

Frances Scott, 'Undertow', Published by Another Place Press, 2020.

Scott describes the journeys as this:

“My walks are recorded using a balance of GPS-tracking, photographs, and hand-written notes on maps. Keeping as close to the edge as is safe, each journey is made only once.”

A sense of risk and explorative desire is certainly evident here. A couple of the images are shot right on the cliff edge, looking down at these sharp, jagged rocks below, exacerbated by the crashing waves and choice of contrasting blacks and whites. A sense of nerve and fear creeps into one’s mind, it feels rebellious, it feels dangerous and you really do get that sense in the imagery and book, another success by both Publisher and Photographer. The imagery throughout the book is consistent in both feel and appearance, empathising the ideals of the coastline and of Scotts journey.

Frances Scott Launches Her Latest Book ' Undertow', Published by Another Place Press
Frances Scott, 'Undertow', Published by Another Place Press, 2020.

The hand drawn sketches in the book compliment the narrative and the photographs well. The combination of sketches and pictures not only adds a personal touch to the narrative but allows the viewer to enter the artists mind at that particular moment of creation. The beauty of our imagination allows us to create our own sketches in our brain, to imagine what the landscape looked like at that moment, it is fascinating.

Frances Scott Launches Her Latest Book ' Undertow', Published by Another Place Press
Frances Scott, 'Undertow', Published by Another Place Press, 2020.
Frances Scott Launches Her Latest Book ' Undertow', Published by Another Place Press
Frances Scott, 'Undertow', Published by Another Place Press, 2020.

I think this is one of Another Place Press’s most interesting publications for a number of reasons. Firstly, the small but subtle change to actually have the front cover as the back cover might not seem like a lot, but allows the viewer to read the book from start to finish, just like a journey. This is something which greatly compliments the narrative. When I first saw the cover on the back, I wasn’t sure if it was a mistake or not, but upon reflection and reading of the book, it makes complete sense and I think this was a very smart design decision. An excellent choice. Secondly, the choice of photographer will once more rally support around Another Place Press. Did I know of Frances Scott before? No. Do I now? Yes. Have I looked through her other work? Yes.

By giving new photographers a platform and giving them a chance to put their work out there, it allows people like myself to discover them. I cannot praise the design of this book enough. The sketches, the pull-outs, the paper stock and the colours of the images are all near perfect. The way the book compliments these images as a physical product are simply superb. I would even go as far to say that this not only Another Place Press’s best-looking book, but, their best designed one too.

Frances Scott Launches Her Latest Book ' Undertow', Published by Another Place Press
Frances Scott, 'Undertow', Published by Another Place Press, 2020.
Frances Scott Launches Her Latest Book ' Undertow', Published by Another Place Press
Frances Scott, 'Undertow', Published by Another Place Press, 2020.

Too many publishers give a platform to existing well known photographers because it’s a low financial risk and brings a high profit due to that artists name. This strategy often overlooks emerging artists time and time again. Another Place Press throws that out of the window by putting affordability and emerging photographers at the forefront of their ethos. This is why I speak so highly of them, because I don’t know of many publishers like them.

A huge congratulations to Frances Scott for the fantastic book. I really hope to see more from you in the future.

Stay safe during this unprecedented times folks.

-Sam

Frances Scott

All images used by Frances Scott and Another Place Press.

Website: https://frances-scott.co.uk/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/_francesscott/

About

Frances Scott (b. 1991) is a photographer from Orkney, currently based in Glasgow. She graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 2014, receiving first class honours alongside an award for her Critical Journal. Her work often focusses on journeys made through a landscape of personal significance, and since 2016 has been working on a long-term project to walk and document the coastlines of Orkney. She is a founding member of the Orkney-based Móti Collective. Her first photobook, Undertow, was published by Another Place Press in February 2020.

Article by Collective Founder, Samuel Fradley

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