Highlight on photography / back to the beginning

This month we’re going to highlight some amazing photography titles that we sell now, or that are about to be distributed by us in the very near future. Photography is close to our heart as it’s all part of our backstory. Let’s explain more….Where to begin?

Cornerhouse Publications all started off as a publisher of photography titles in the late 1980s, under the direction of Dewi Lewis, the then boss of Cornerhouse – a contemporary art centre in Manchester. Books and photography were really his thing and in 1994 he left to set up his own publishing imprint. Indeed, Cornerhouse Publications soon became well known for publishing quality contemporary photography titles and we won prizes for it (1990 The Sunday Times Small Publisher of the Year), and built up a really great photography list.

However, we did come across a problem back then – how to get the books distributed and repped into the book trade. Traditional bookselling at the time meant that book buyers would really only sub new titles from an official publisher representative, so getting an ‘in’ for our titles was proving quite problematic. This was before online listing and selling, before direct selling was such a big deal. So we decided to get around the problem, sourced our own group of freelance reps, and started distributing our own books for ourselves. We thought big, sourcing reps that covered not just the whole of the UK, but those that covered the world.

Around this time, we also noticed that other art venues were also finding it difficult to get the books that they were publishing in to bookshops and out there. They wanted a distributor that could handle their titles, and understand their needs. So they approached us, or we approached them, the list grew and grew and we started to utilise the services of a professional warehouse (at first Clipper, then with NBNi, who are now called Ingram), to pick, pack and despatch for us. This was all supported by Arts Council England, who realised the need to get art venue exhibition catalogues and publications available to and accessed by all. Overseas publishers who needed to get their books easily stocked and moving in the UK came on board too….. Ten years later and we had over 100 publisher’s on our list, and had grown to become a very well-respected art book distributor in our field.

Fast forward to today, and we’re still here and now part of HOME (the name given to the merging of Cornerhouse and The Library Theatre in 2012). We’re still doing our thing with some of the most innovative publishers out there, and, under the HOME imprint, we publish our own titles too. Some of our original Cornerhouse titles are now out of print and have become highly collectable (eg. Tom Wood:Looking for Love, Martin Parr: Signs of the Times 1st edition) and some have become great sellers over time, or quality sources of information (You Are Here: Art After the Internet) and are not just photography-bent.

So it seems quite timely, then, to go back to our beginnings and highlight from our current photography titles, some old, some new. There are quite a few to pick from, so we’ve been really selective.

John Goto: Lover’s Rock features the photographer’s portraits from 1977 when he taught evening classes at Lewisham Youth Centre – perhaps the unselfconscious results were due to his similar age and familiarity with the subjects?

Two Rivers: Joachim Brohm / Alec Soth includes Soth’s Sleeping By the Mississippi and Brohm’s Ruhr series of photographs, set side by side: A special meeting of two important and influential contemporary photographers.

Dale Grant: Fading Beauty shows that the true individual beauty of flowers can be witnessed when they fade and die.

From Far Away: Images of the GDR includes images that tell of places and situations as they once were when East Germany, or officially the GDR still existed as a country (1949-1990). They can be considered a visual legacy of this period in history.

John Peter Askew: WE: Photographs from Russia 1996-2017 was featured on The Guardian website in June 2019. John Peter Askew has taken pictures and created poetic images of the people and places in the city of Perm, Russia over several years. It has resulted in a project that documents an extended family at the same time as investigating modern Europe, and asks the question ‘what can we become’?

The Brooks Press of Wirksworth: Chris Brooks is a book created by Chris Brooks after his 10 years of research into his family’s printing press. He returned to his home county of Derbyshire, and took shots of the people and places. Creating a book that is all about family history, belonging and identity.

Public and Private: East Germany in Photographs by Ulrich Wüst includes photos that this trained urban planner took in East German cities in the 1970s.

Vanley Burke: By the Rivers of Birminam  Burke had an exhibition of these photographs at mac birmingham in 2012. They were shots that he took of the Jamaican community of Handsworth since the 1960s.

Michael Schmidt: Waffenruhe is a reprint of Schmidt’s classic title of photographs of Berlin’s cityscapes before the wall came down.

Franz Gaudlitz: Russian Times 1988 – 2018 shows Gaudlitz’s pre-occupation with the transformation of Russian society over the last 30 years.

The Landing Strip: Kader Attia illustrates the artist’s personal interest in people who live on the edge of society. His subjects here are a group of transgender sex workers who lived and worked in Paris in the early 2000s. His photos are honest and insightful.

Eric Mistler: Paris Buenos Aires stimulates the reader’s imagination as each opposite page of the book shows the other city and its people – telling of similarities and oppositions.

Martin Parr: Return to Manchester was published when the photographer came back to Manchester for an exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery in 2018/9. The photographs featured cover his regular visits back to the city, from photos of Prestwich Mental Hospital in 1972 to people shopping in the Trafford Centre in 2008.

Photo Objects: On the Materiality of Photographs and Photo-Archives in the Humanities and Sciences on how archive photographs have their own physical presence as objects, and are not just images.

But don’t stop there, please do browse our list and delve deeper. We relish your continued support of all the artists, authors, publishers and titles on our ever-growing list. They’re worth it!

Photocaption: Image (c) John Peter Askew, taken from WE: Photographs from Russia 1996 - 2017.


Posted on 22nd July 2019
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