With poems by Tamar Yoseloff and photographs by Vici MacDonald, Formerly is a collaboration between two artists who share a desire to commemorate the forgotten corners of a London now fast disappearing.
“A direct and quietly urgent dispatch from a familiar but disappearing London” – Owen Hatherley, author
The book is a sequence of 14 informal sonnets, each written in response to an accompanying photograph selected by the poet. The final sonnet, which like the book is entitled Formerly, revisits lines from each of the previous 13 poems. It is followed by a map of all 14 photo locations, enabling readers to undertake literal as well as literary revisitation.
“The best collaboration between these arts that I have seen since Fay Godwin and Ted Hughes’ Remains of Elmet” – Ian Duhig, poet
The sonnet is the classic elegiac form, but Yoseloff’s are irregular and anarchic. They are the perfect companions for MacDonald’s grainy images of superannuated shop fronts, council estates and industrial sites taken between the years 2001 and 2010 – defiant structures left behind by the sweep of mass redevelopment.
“This is the London we have been looking for down the ages, from Dickens to Sinclair and Whistler to Kossoff” – Jock McFadyen, artist
Produced in a compact format, featuring grainy duotone photographs and fonts popular in the 1960s, the book’s stylish design echoes its humble subject matter, and it is now in its second edition.
The second edition (pictured top) has exactly the same contents as the first edition, and every copy still comes with Off The Map, a free guide leaflet to the locations. The differences are: a slightly updated cover, full colour throughout, orange replaced by green, no cover flaps, and with each copy signed by both authors on the frontispiece.
The first edition (pictured below) was printed in two colours – black and fluorescent orange – using an old-school Risograph duplicator, on paper made from random recycled detritus. The cover had fold-over flaps, and each inside back page was numbered and signed by the authors. It was printed in a limited edition of 300 copies, which has now sold out.