All you need to know about those telephone boxes that are receiving new leases of life...
With every day that came for two weeks, one particular phone box became more visible in my periphery. A street that I frequent regularly and have become so hyper aware of it that, to a degree, it dissolved into the backdrop of my life. At a point we need to reckon with our inability to focus our attention on not only the digital (as many seem to dismiss its gravity), but also our IRL, outside of chaos and scandal. Perhaps it’s a case of being hopelessly British and nonchalant, completely indifferent to public displays of anything. So it came as a great shock to notice these run down letterboxes used as the most perfect canvas for Vincent Chapters’ photography. Born and bred in Camden, the 27-year-old set out a task to bring his Instagram feed to your commute. From taking candid shots on a Sony Ericson of friends for Myspace, à la “Vince’s producciey”, to using North London as a backdrop for his photography today, we get to know the new artist taking us out of the banality of the everyday…
Where did the name Vincent Chapters come from?
Vincent is my last name and Chapters was just my little reminder that photography was supposed to show my life journey.
I remember trying music, but getting things out verbally always being a bit messy for me. Taking pictures came naturally and it felt like an easy way of expressing myself. There are a load of sick young photographers out there representing their areas well, but the spotlight hasn’t really reached photography properly in the way that music has done. Everyone is still very focused on the more known guys, or photographers that shoot musicians.
You do photograph musicians, but a lot of your work is of everyday life. Which do you prefer and why?
I love linking up with musicians I rate; like recently, I got to shoot Slowthai and Oscar Worldpeace. If I’m not really feeling the music, then I won’t be that bothered to shoot them. I like shooting people I know and meet in real life.
What drew you to photographing your subject?
I’m not too sure. I just shoot people I know and like and that’s it.
The telephone box canvas is genius! How did that come about?
Cheers! I got sick and tired of just seeing pictures on my phone or a screen. I also thought about exhibitions shows a lot, but, didn’t know any galleries than want to exhibit my work. So, I saw these phone boxes that don’t really get used anymore and thought, why not stick some up there? [Quite a wavy canvas init?]. I wanted to put them around Kentish Town, Tufnell Park and Camden because that’s where I am mostly .
Did you have any help?
I knew a guy that had access to a big printer so plotted some quite cheap and then just made wheat paste at home, had a drink, hit the streets and had some fun.
Was there a method to the placement, or was it random?
All the photos were taken in London. It’s my little stamp on the city. A decent break from the Boohoo and McDonalds posters I reckon. The centre photo says Camden, it’s the Camden council sign I saw, all distorted. To me, that represented Camden well, it’s a wavy place. It’s the place I was born and spent the most time growing up. The particular phone boxes I chose ended up being a little bit local and random. The one that resonated with me the most was on Fortess road which was the second place I lived. Other than that, they were just local phone boxes that looked good and got regular traction.
When you’re constantly inundated with data and content, our monopolies of choice can become so tumultuous and strenuous on the ether of individuality. More consumed by the motion of scrolling than actually absorbing what it is that we have been served; it’s an interesting confine to navigate when the assumption is, you’ve carefully curated your social media to reflect your taste. Rather, your taste has been curate for you and you decide what parts of it you wish to feed into. What Vincent Chapters has done, is lift that framework, completely, but in real time. Still scrolling and strolling, but, the rare occasions that we do look up to take in our surroundings, we are still and present.
What has the response been like?
Yeah, people seem to like ’em I think. I was stopped a couple times and asked about it, so the response seems good.
Is it weird walking past your work, seeing as you put it in places that you regularly frequent?
Yeah man! Most of them have faded quite a lot now; which I expected. A couple are gone. But, yeah, it was a bit of fun.
How would you describe your photography?
I’d say my photography is *street photography* if any genre. Sometimes its abstract, often raw. Sometimes uplifting, but they’re always real. It is however I’m feeling at the time.
Are you planning on doing anymore of these types of projects?
I’m gonna stick a few more up outside of North London, soon, and (maybe) not phone boxes. I’ll keep you in the loop.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on a book that focuses on *my* London and how I see it. I haven’t seen one yet that feels like me so it needs to be done.
Follow Vincent Chapters on his journey on Instagram here.
13 August 2019