TRIP: Why did you decide to open up your work to this kind of critique?
Heather Iris Galt-Mcloughlin: The collaboration was part of my final assessment for my degree. It was the first time i've completely focused on my photographic practice and presented them as a series. I haven't ever collaborated with another artist let alone eighteen, and to begin with I wasn't too sure how to go about it. My intentions with collaborating with the writers was to understand my practice further by seeing whether it was clear to people from all walks of life if it was present in my photographs what I wanted them to represent.
TRIP: How did you go about selecting the volunteers? Was there a decision behind which photograph each individual was asked to respond to?
Heather Iris Galt-Mcloughlin: I began by writing a list of names of people I knew who enjoyed writing and contacted them first, I then posted on a social media website asking for volunteers, many of the names i'd written down contacted me agreeing to take part. The majority of people involved knew little or nothing about my practice, and that’s what I wanted. Eighteen writers were involved, I was happy with this number - I felt I had eighteen really strong photographs that worked well as a series. It was a conscious decision selecting the individual and photograph. I knew I wanted Margret Mcloughlin (my Scouse aunt) and Nick Cowen (my Southern uncle) to both respond to similar photographs of garage doors, Dean Rogers, a lad I grew up with to respond to a dirt bike and for Deirdre Canavan to respond to the caravan photograph because her last name has a similar spelling.
TRIP: Were you nervous about people’s responses potentially missing the mark?
Heather Iris Galt-Mcloughlin: Some volunteer's understood my practice more so than others, with one in particular contributor concentrating on directing their response more to their own practice rather than my own (out of the eighteen writers nine were artists). This isn't a criticism; it was their decision on how to interpret the photograph, and what direction to take it in. I was excited every time I received another response; it made me look at my practice further and definitely helped me understand it more.
TRIP: Did any of the responses mirror your initial intentions for creating a particular photograph?
Heather Iris Galt-Mcloughlin: Angela Luffman's response of the satellite dishes was on point, the routine drag of being unemployed, the staple British day time T.V schedule. I remember when I was younger and if you had a satellite dish you had Sky, and you wanted your neighbours to know you were paying thirty quid a month for it.
TRIP: Have any of the responses caused you to look at your photographs differently?
Heather Iris Galt-Mcloughlin: Hannah Pothecary's response was the first I received back, and out of all the responses it questions the intentions of my practice the most. With the final sentence being “these are lives being lived, a habitat of people that I do not know and I am viewing them as an artwork. Is this reductive of our society or a tribute to it?”. Hannah knew nothing about my practice or intentions, but from a single photograph of an Easton estate she pretty much nailed it. Our views of working class communities in contemporary Britain are negative; this is a result from the media’s perception. This isn't my intention with my practice, it’s about belonging and being part of a community. I'm not an outsider looking in, this is what I grew up around and love.