Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
© Bob Mazzer

© Bob Mazzer

Launch of Silver Hill Press

There is definitely an appetite, pride and support for enterprising, affordable, well produced local publishing. Hastings Fish Cook Book is a specialist private publishing company, which published its first cook book in 2009 and produced three different editions and several reprints. The first edition sold out of a print run of 10,00o. Now there is another independent enterprise, Silverhill Press. Photographer Ian Land had the great idea of publishing a series of art monographs starting with photography and then extending out to poetry, possibly illustration and collage. HOT’s Lauris Morgan-Griffiths asked Ian some questions about the project.

How did the idea come about?

Blood Lake © IAN-LAND

Blood Lake © IAN-LAND

I wanted to do a book of my Blood Lake project (which was always conceived as a book). Out of a conversation with Paul Thomas at Martel Colour Print grew the idea to launch a series of  books. I agreed to become editor. Then in 2016 designer Richard de Pesando came up with an amazing design. It became obvious we could produce a quality product and still make it affordable. The first few books in the series were to be mine, one by Alex Brattell and one by Richard de Pesando.

Life got in the way, and then, about six weeks ago, we finally got our act together. Lorna Lloyd at the Printworks offered to host a season of launch events, we persuaded Nigel Green and Bob Mazzer to make books with us, and we launched, two years late, at the beginning of October 2018, with five books and a series of exhibitions.

What are the first books?

Each book is very different. They all are a one-subject body of work. As soon as you take a photograph, you and the world have moved on; it’s history. And these first published Silver Hill Press books trace the past in different ways: Ian Land, Blood Lake, the anonymous-looking blood-soaked field where the Battle of Hastings was fought; Richard de Pesando’s view into the past of the abandoned Floor 14 of the Post Office Tower; Alex Brattell’s celebration of soon-to-be extinct sodium lamp-posts Two Posts; Nigel Green’s documentary of Katowice, a Soviet town in transition – and Bob Mazzer’s record of Hastings people, place and atmosphere – almost a historical document but still oddly familiar.

And is it only local photographers or local projects?

Two Lamposts © ALEX BRATTELL

Two Lamposts © ALEX BRATTELL

All of the first five books are by local photographers. I’m already looking at the next batch of five or six books, and most of those will also be by local photographers. There are plenty of talented photographers in this town with archives of work worthy of a book, and it’s important we try to document that. But the project needs wider exposure, and my hope is within a year or so to be receiving lots of submissions from much further afield.

Do photographers have to contribute to the costs?

Provided we can sell 30 or 40 copies of each issue, we can make enough money to produce the next batch of books and keep the Silver Hill Press going. Most photographic publishing nowadays expects the photographer to front at least some of the cost. We don’t.

Will each book be different? Black and white and colour?

Three of the first five books are black and white, and the remaining two are colour, and they are all very different.

Do you have ideas of who you want to publish?

We’re already talking to a number of photographers about doing books with us, but one of the great things about doing something like this is having the opportunity to receive submissions from people who are currently completely unknown to us. The books are curated.

Anybody who has 20 or 30 pictures which have potential to work as a sequence in a book has a possible Silver Hill book.

Will you produce books by both male and female photographers?

Silverhill Press books

Silverhill Press books

I’m very conscious the first five books are all by men. That’s purely accidental, and I’m really pleased to have a lot of women photographers on my list of potential authors of upcoming editions.

Hastings is a small community, and the photography one even smaller, so you must have people asking you to publish their work. It could be embarrassing turning people down.

So far most people who’ve approached me have work I think is worthy of consideration. For now, at this experimental stage, the criterion is for someone to have a compelling sequence of pictures which makes sense as a book and their images fit the format.

Will Silver Hill books extend beyond photography?

We have two books of poetry slated – David Francis’ is to be published in November. I can see the format working very well for illustration and collage too. I wouldn’t rule anything out.

Cost of books? Where available?

£8 if bought from us, either directly or from our website, £10 if bought from a shop, including local bookshops and galleries. We’ll also be offering a subscription to order the next four books in advance at a discount.

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Posted 13:46 Wednesday, Oct 31, 2018 In: Photography

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