Roy Westlake ARPS
Photograph by Simon Gomery

Simon Gomery BA(hons) ARPS
Photograph by Joanna Fila-Cooper

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Project Archives: Preservation Matter (HLF project)



A curatorial project coordinated by Simon Gomery, Photographer & SWiB Volunteer, using the photographs of Roy Westlake from the SWiB archives to visually investigate the narrative of heritage, culture, industry, the environment, agriculture and the landscape.

In their current context, the photographs have preserved visual records of the West Country covering a forty-year period.

The final outcome of the project will involve a celebration of Roy Westlake’s photographs to be exhibited within the SWiB gallery. Alongside this will be a bespoke book made of 42 photographs from the RW archive alongwith an interview of the photographer himself. This book will be available as a limited edition artist’s photo book and also available as a downloadable PDF.

Project Outcomes

“Every viewer reads the narrative of the image in a different way, we all have different ways of seeing”. (Gomery, Simon, 2012).

The photographs will stimulate the viewer so that they are aware of the relationship between the environment and the land; Man’s use of the land and the traces that man has left in the landscape and how nature reacts with the land. The photographs will also allow the viewer to become immersed in Westlake’s landscapes. The viewer’s senses become aroused to that they are a part of that landscape; subconsciously they can touch, feel and smell all that is pictured in the photograph.

In her appraisal of Roy's collection, our founding Archivist Stacey Dyer has developed a fond depth of appreciation for the unique quality of his work which she attributes as being one of the most notable collections in the SWiB archive. “There is a profound sense of being which shines through Roy’s photos. As spectators, we are invited to place ourselves within the photos, to look through the lens and experience for ourselves the very point in time at which these beautiful images were created. They are incredibly evocative!”

The legacy that is built by this project will focus on the principal values of learning, participation and interpretation serving to fulfill our Heritage Lottery Fund objectives.

This is an all-inclusive project from which everybody that is involved with the will have a learning experience. Groups will experience the visual narration of forty years of heritage displayed by the photographic document. The Meta narrative within the photographs will tell stories of our urban, domestic, industrial and rural landscapes. The photographs will have been selected to give a broad spectrum of what is like to have lived in the West Country at a particular period in time.

The volunteer experience with the project will be with the selection of images from the Roy Westlake archive. Each Volunteer will be asked to choose a pair of images that relate to one another, they will also be asked to produce a line from a poem or to write their own experience of the photographs they have chosen towards the project. This involves the volunteer team with putting together the archive.

As a recent graduate, this provides me with good learning material and participation in a prestigious project that will provide a legacy from the SWiB archive, to manage the project and curate the outcomes. It will enable the photographer Roy Westlake to have an exhibition of his photographs both in printed and digital media. The celebration will also bring to the archive, visitors that are involved with local heritage, from the City Museum and Art Gallery, the Plymouth and West Devon records office. From academic circles, The University of Plymouth, Plymouth College of Art, The University College of St Mark and St John, other schools, academies and local interest groups.  As well as civic guests such as the Lord Mayors office. A press release will be issued to the local media.

* Link to the Roy Westlake image gallery here.


All images South West Image Bank

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