Conner Bailey, Visual Communication graduate from Leeds Arts University shares his project 'Y tho'.
A personal project looking at the opinion of men in the Leeds/West Yorkshire area, on how their masculinity is affected by the hegemony in society and how the idea of masculinity enforces aspects of everyday life.
Y tho is a project I worked on along side my dissertation writing in my final year at Leeds Arts University. It’s a hand bound portrait series looking at the views of individuals within West Yorkshire, and questioning what it means to be a man. I wouldn’t classify myself as your typical “bloke”, however I’ve been through my phases. Going to uni and really getting into the “rugby lad” culture aided with the development of me becoming a person that I really didn’t want to be. I inevitably dropped out of university on my first attempt and it was the best thing I could have done. When a little time past and I felt more like myself it really hit me, how in such a short amount of time, I became the guy who I use to hate. Being surrounded by what would typically be described as ‘Northern lads’ really shaped the way I viewed myself and others, it had been heavily ingrained in me to act a certain way since childhood, as it’s been excepted social behaviour for generations. It wasn’t until later in life when I started delving into my own psyche and studying at a progressive art university that I could see through the prejudice and old fashion ideals that I’d grown up with and thus began developing my thoughts towards what I think it means to be a man.
The relationships I’ve had with key people within my life, has really impacted this work.
My intentions behind this series was to indirectly address people that I think have deep seeded issues about their perspectives towards their own masculinity. I found myself making assumptions based on my thoughts towards these individuals. As time went on throughout this project I began to see a dichotomy of my subjects character and was shocked by how wrong I was about some of their perspectives about what they think it means to be a man. The project took on a new light and made me become more self aware, as I was making assumptions towards these men before they even started talking. I started this series with the intention of making certain individuals within my life reflect and open up, when in turn I discovered I still have my own prejudice to overcome.
Hi Conner, Thank you for sharing your working with us. Could you tell us a little about yourself please?
I’m Conner Bailey, a 24 year old photographer and graphic designer from Batley, West Yorkshire. In 2018 I graduated from Leeds Arts University, BA (Hons) Visual Communication. I specialised in analog photographic processes and printmaking and have worked commercially for the Leeds International Festival, The City Talking and VICE UK but my personal work lies predominantly in documentary photography.
I was given an Olympus trip 35 by a family friend as my first camera which is really where it all started. I was always creative and vaguely understood what made a good photograph but for a while I pretty much wondered round aimlessly shooting. It’s not until I found the work of Peter Mitchell, a renowned local photographer who has documented Leeds and the surrounding area for over 40 years, when I really knew what style I wanted to work towards. Once I really started I found myself more and more intrigued with the beauty in the mundane, something that is so unintentional placed none planned but for some reason aesthetically works. Throughout university I flicked between this style and graphic design, combining the two in self bound photo books throughout my final year. After shooting 35mm for a few years and with the work I was influenced by, I found it a natural progression to move into medium format. Starting with a Bronica ETRSI and quickly moving on to a Mamiya RB67, which is what I used for my Y Tho series. Up until this point I had only been interested in places, not people. Moving onto the RB67 was perfect timing as it was now that I really wanted to push myself into some portrait work, after seeing Zen Nelson’s- A Portrait of Hackney.
Recently I have moved to Australia for 2 years and I’m concentrating more on my graphic design but I always have a camera to hand and I will continue day to day until an idea forms for another project. I think it’s great to have more than one practice, ideas form and there’s a broader understanding of the subject.