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A Fish Out of Water


Last year we printed a newspaper documenting the building of a ship- here's a paper we've printed recently that shows what happens at the other end of a ship's life.

London-based photograher Tim Mitchell spent nearly two years documenting the 'breaking' and recycling of the RFA Grey Rover in Canada Docks in Liverpool between 2009 and 2011.These photographs are now on display at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland as part of his debut solo exhibition A Fish Out of Water, which opened 11 January and will run until 23 February. The project was supported using public funding by Arts Council England.


To accompany the exhibition Tim created a very unusual improved tabloid. It’s made to be taken apart, a tactile rendering of the dismantling process depicted within the images. One page featuring a grid of photos taken from his two-year time lapse (see video below) can be used to create a flick book.

In addition to being available in the gallery, copies of the newspaper have been posted out to every primary and secondary school in the Tyne and Wear area-- nearly 500 schools-- along with educational material for teachers to use in the classroom and in the gallery.

We asked Tim to tell us a bit more about the newspaper:

The publication is intended to be an oblique, experimental newspaper, where the form of the newspaper itself echoes the subject matter within-- a document made up of contrasting forms and perspectives, all looking at the same subject matter. The sheets of paper become like the sheets of steel, the structure of the newspaper inviting the reader to pull it apart-- as has happened with the ship it portrays– in order to reveal the ‘bigger picture’. Once disassembled the newspaper can then be reformed into another order– much like the act of recycling the steel from the ship. No page numbers on purpose.


The addition of the Sunderland Interviews sheet is specific to the occasion of the exhibition at the National Glass Centre. It is intended to give the publication a broad and oblique sense of the life and death of not just a ship, but of our Nation’s relationship with ships themselves. The interviews are also intended to carry the ‘voice’ and perspective of those who worked on ships locally to Sunderland; to give a counterpoint to the artist’s perspective and even that of the academic or expert. The individual anecdotes from men who worked on ship building in Sunderland hopefully bring a human voice to the sheets of steel within A Fish Out of Water.


It's fun watching how people interact with the newspapers. Opening them. Starting to look through. Realising what's going on and pulling them apart and then realising they can't remember quite how it came. Then they have to really engage.  


It was designed by the wonderful Brighten the Corners after lots of discussion and play. It's the second time we've made a book together. A lot of fun.

While supplies last, A Fish Out of Water is available on Tim's website for just the price of postage and packaging (which works out at £1.70 for the 28-page newspaper if you're in the UK and £5.20 outside the EU.)

You can see more of Tim's work on his website and find him on Twitter. Thanks for printing with us!

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