Vera & John
43 colour illustrations
220 X 280 X 12 mm
1. Edition 02/2017
Published by Butchers Hook Books.
The idea of making a project about my mum and dad came to me while visiting their home in 2005. With no one home I had a rummage through the fridge and food cupboards before making a nice cup of tea. Leaning against the wall next to the kettle was a note outlining that evenings dinner arrangements.
That first note became ‘Vera & John’, a collection of still-life montages made with a photograph of a note layered over a photograph of a paving stone. Without Vera’s knowledge and with the help of John, between 2005 and 2014 I collected 112 similar notes that focus on the general comings and goings of their day-to-day lives.
Always written on the backs of used envelopes, these private notes are a mix of instructions, statements and requests that offer a intimate take on London’s working class culture and outline Vera and John’s mutually supportive roles within a close-knit family.
The paving stones were photographed on streets that have a connection to Vera and John. These worn, dirty and colourful slabs of stone trace the experiences of five generations of my family in the London Borough of Camden, mapping the streets where our lives have played-out over the last 100 years.
- 2017, Source
- 2017, V&A Art Library
- 2017, Athens Photo Festival
- 2017, BBC Radio London, Robert Elms Show
- 2017, The Guardian on Saturday
- 2017, Photobook Show, St Petersburg
- 2017, Photobook Show, Brighton
- 2017, Moose On The Loose
- 2017, Thats Not My Age
- 2017, The Woman’s Room
Praise for Vera & John
'Vera & John' was featured in the 2017 sumer issue of Source, the Photographic review; on BBC Radio London’s Robert Elms show on Friday 17th February and in the Guardian on Saturday 28th January. Photomonitor also printed an interview with myself about the project in July 2017.
- Thank you so much for sending me a copy of your recent publication Vera & John which I hugely enjoyed. I absorbed myself rapaciously in the intimate everyday exchanges - a tender, humorous and charming portrait of everyday life. Your mum did well to trust you! Alona Pardo, Curator, Barbican
- I have enjoyed reading it – it is warm, honest, funny and poignant. Martin Barnes, Senior Curator, Photographs, Victoria and Albert Museum
- "A moving and important project" Greg Hobson
- "A wonderful project with my 3 favourite L’s - language, love and London” Karen McQuaid, curator, the Photographers Gallery
- Thank you very much for sending your book 'Vera and John', which arrived today. It's a touching and humorous glimpse into your parents' lives, and no doubt it will resonate with many many readers. Your mum's handwriting is so similar to my nan's, and she also liked to write notes on the backs of envelopes!! Susanna BrownCurator, Photographs, Victoria and Albert Museum
- “Probably the sweetest, funniest book published so far this year”.
- “Truly lovely, the bits of life and love that get forgotten”.
- “A fab potrait of family life. Written on the back of everyday envelopes, Vera leaves notes to John. Funny, ordinary, addictive & touching!”
- “I laughed out loud at the note about the barbecue bar! Brilliant idea for a book”.
- “Absolutely wonderful. The whole thing made me smile—a lot”.
- “Thank god there's always the real world. It has become so easy to forget that”.
- “Lovely idea for a book. We should all do this. Before we self delete. Is there a way to save and print our texts?”
- “Absolutely, Beautiful Idea. Beautiful Life”.
- “Your history, our history, London ‘istory”
- “Anyone who can't see the warmth and family values I feel sort of sad for. This is real family lucky for them”.
- "Vera & John - a reminder that life, like love, is in the little things!"
- "Delighted to receive my copy! Thank you and well done to Jason Wilde I couldn't wait to read it and it brought tears to my eyes as I thought about the notes on scrap paper that me and my mum and dad used to communicate with before mobile phones! Wish I'd kept them"