The Story Behind...with Clive Marshall

Ella
27th May 2021

We always delight in learning the incredible stories behind the books our customers make- the how and the why. In this new series, we meet customers with a story to tell. We spoke with black and white photographer Clive Marshall about a recent project where he documented a local newspaper office before it was demolished to make way for a hotel.

'There was a pervading feeling of sadness, emptiness, and neglect about the corridors, old offices, and even the owners’ top floor flat with its expensive wood panelling and carpets.'

What was the inspiration behind this series of works? When you heard your local newspaper offices were closing did the idea to photograph the premises come immediately?

The local newspaper offices had been closed for some time and the site had been purchased by a leisure group for building a new hotel. They announced that before the site was bulldozed (apart from the 1950’s frontage, which was to remain), the newspaper buildings would be open for people to look around. 

I was told about the opening of the building and so went to have a look. The complex was vast. There were no main lights on only safety lighting and small table lamps placed on the floor to light the way. The whole place was intensely cold and my feet and hands were freezing after an hour. My first visit was in January and as I left the building it snowed heavily. 

I had been looking for a subject with which to apply for my associateship of the Royal Photographic Society, and after looking at my initial photographs of the Coventry Telegraph offices I knew I had it.

Further trips followed and they had to be done pretty quickly as the demolition was due to start at the beginning of May.

What was your experience of moving around the empty/dark building?

There were no other visitors during my trips apart from a fellow photographer and the dark, cold passages and empty rooms were quite eerie. Water had started to fill the large basement areas and the drip, drip sound accompanied me as I wandered around. The majority of my photographs were taken during five visits in February and it was freezing throughout. So much so, that the pools of water accumulating on the floor in the giant basement where the printing presses used to be housed were frozen. 

Now and again it seemed as though you could hear people talking quietly so perhaps there were other visitors around, but we never saw anyone else in the building apart from the two members of staff in the reception as you entered the building.

What did you want to capture? 

Almost all of the photographs I take are processed as black and white, and after my first visit, I knew that the dark shadows and small areas of light throughout the complex would provide the perfect atmosphere for my images. There was a pervading feeling of sadness, emptiness, and neglect about the corridors, old offices, and even the owners’ top floor flat with its expensive wood panelling and carpets. As I say in my Statement of Intent for the collection. 

What other photography work have you done recently? What subjects do you most like to explore?

During the restrictions of lockdown, I have been taking architectural photographs, a genre I don’t normally do, which have been taken on my daily walks and I have also taken the opportunity to catch up with my printing both in monochrome and colour. I am currently trying to arrive at a subject and statement of intent for photographs I will need to produce to attempt a Fellowship distinction with the RPS.

Any plans to make another photobook or portfolio?

I have almost finished another photobook which will show my photographs that gained me my licentiateship with the RPS. It will be in the same format as “Yesterday’s News” and called “Diverse Selection”. There is also another photobook planned for later this year in conjunction with a photographic collective I run.

You can see more of Clive's work at www.clivemarshall.net  or follow him on instagram.  

Inspired by Clive's story? Make your own book now and tell your story.