Stephen Monger was born in Basingstoke in 1972. His first experience of photography was from family holidays recording his impromptu piles of stones he created on beaches. This unknowing ‘land art’ could be seen as an early foreshadowing of his approach to the medium, that involved the staging or making of things for the act of photographing.
On completing postgraduate education in Derby, UK in 1998, and securing space at Banks Mill Studios in the city, he embarked on a series of large scale photographs (1200x1400) of cardboard gallery interiors. These photographs focused on the gallery fittings as monumental art in themselves, and where shown under the title of Switches and Other Works. The work was selected for East International in 2002 by Lawrence Weiner and also exhibited at the Lisbon Photography Biennial VIII in Portugal 2004. The idea of a ‘switch’ goes to the heart of photography’s ability to stand in for something, and the making of a substitute in cardboard performs a transformation into a further reality.
In 2006 he moved to the west of England, and embarked on a body of photographs which became the touring exhibition Urban Documents for the Architecture Centre, in Bristol. It looked at the process of change within the form of buildings that had been converted, extended or developed over time, and in doing so had produced unique urban sculpture that embedded its own history. These documents of change were sometimes created by individuals with their own architectural visions and others where as a result of wholesale re-development as an area became redundant. One such area was the Victorian mansions in Weston-super-Mare that were divided up into flats in the 1930s, by adding external staircases. The work combined documentary photographs and those shot in the studio. Cardboard models were used as a way of unifying forms and tones, and emphasising detail that was otherwise inaccessible.
Since 2008 he has been documenting aspects of the regeneration of Weston-super-Mare seafront. This was a period of uncertainty with the global banking crisis and subsequent recession, and had a visible effect on the content and aesthetic of his photographs that favoured darker mono tones. One significant event from this time informed a new series of work later called Weston Phoenix. The Icelandic volcano ‘Eyjafjallajökull’ erupted in April 2010, sending a large amount of ash into the atmosphere effecting air travel, but also creating intense sunsets. This deadly, but beautiful event coincided with a number of hotel fires within the town. The themes of regeneration and fire, either real or metaphorical, were linked in a series of photographs, some cardboard models shot in the studio with orange light and smoke, and others shot on location.
In 2012 he was awarded a commission from the Phoenix Gallery in Exeter and the Centre for Additive Layer Manufacture (CALM), at the University of Exeter. This was used to produce some 3D prints of building fragments in white nylon. One later development stemming from this commission utilised the process of digital file making to make a series of 2D digitally drawn c-prints. These prints were of demolished hotels from Weston drawn in outline and informed by archive photographs.
The idea of change whether through events that are: social or political; local or international; catastrophic or evolving; and how they are made visible within the fabric of our world remains a predominant theme within his practice.
CV Born: 1972 Lives: South West England
Education MA Advanced Practice & Theories: Photographic Studies (Derby Jan 97 - June 98) BA(Hons) Design: Photography (Exeter Sept 93 - July 95)
Solo Exhibitions ‘Urban Documents’ - Solent Centre for Architecture & Design, Winchester 2007 ‘Urban Documents’ - The Lighthouse, Glasgow, Scotland 2006 ‘Urban Documents’ - The Architecture Centre, Bristol, England 2006 ‘From The Ring Road’ - Derby Museum & Art Gallery, England 2005 (part of Format Photography Festival) ‘Switches & Others Works’ - Folly Gallery, Lancaster, England 2004 ‘Switches & Others Works’ - Open Studio, University of Derby, England 2004 ‘Switches & Others Works’ - Biennial VIII, Lisbon, Portugal 2004 ‘Switches & Others Works’ - Nottingham Castle, England 2004 ‘Switches & Others Works’ - ImagoLucis Fotogaleria, Porto, Portugal 2003 ‘In The Making’ - Bournemouth and Poole College of Art & Design, England 1998
Group Exhibitions W-CA Photography Open - Contemporary Landscape, Worcester, England 2013 (selected by Richard Billingham, Fiona Crisp, Dan Holdsworth, Pete James, Ivan & Heather Morison, Paul Seawright, Jem Southam) 'Neoreplicants: 30 SW Artists Explore 3D Printing', Exeter Pheonix, Exeter, England 2012 ‘Manos Libres Project’, Yodoe, Galeria Taishougura, Japan 2009 ‘Island Universe’, Gallery in the Blue, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan 2009 ‘Through The Lens’, Royal West of England Academy, Bristol 2008 ‘Immediate 3, New Art From the North’ - Site Gallery, Sheffield, England 2005 ‘Model’ - Zandra Rhodes Gallery, Rochester, England 2003 ‘EAST International’ - Norwich Gallery, Norwich, England 2002 (selected by Lawrence Weiner & Jack Wendler) ‘Immediate’ - Site Gallery, Sheffield, England 1999 ‘Porthleven Is A Quiet...’ - ACME Studios, Porthleven, Cornwall, England 1999 ‘KunstArt’ - Fachhochscule Bielefeld, Germany 1998 ‘More or Less’ - Derby Museum & Art Gallery, England 1998 ‘More or Less’ - Vakalo School of Art & Design, Athens, Greece 1997 ‘In-Transit, Some Contemporary British Art’ - University of Osnabruck, Germany 1997 ‘In-Transit, Some Contemporary British Art’ - Kunstcentrum Haagweg, Leiden, Holland 1997
Grants/Awards Exeter Phoenix Digital Commission 2012 (3D Printing) Arts Council England 2006 Arts Council England (East Midlands) 2005 Conference Award Immediate Commission - Site Gallery, Sheffield 2004/05 (4 x Video Works) Arts Council England (East Midlands) 2003 Southern Arts, England 2002
Publications/Broadcasts/Media A Head of the Curve, In conversation with Audaye Elesedy. Phonic FM 106.8, Exeter (23|11|12) Blueprint Magazine - Urban Documents, p37 October 2006 ‘Urban Documents’ catalogue, The Architecture Centre, Bristol 2006, ISBN 0-9553609-0-0 AN Magazine, ‘Switches & Other Works’ Nottingham Castle April 2004. ‘EAST International’ catalogue, Norwich Gallery, Norwich 2002, ISBN 1-872482-61-9 Frieze Magazine, ‘East International’ Norwich Gallery, Nov 2002
Other Photographs in private collections in Holland, Romania and UK Short-listed for Tate St. Ives Residency 2004|05 Ate chickens’ feet with Lawrence Weiner, Norwich (03|07|02)
LinkedIn Link https://www.linkedin.com/profile/preview?locale=en_US&trk=prof-0-sb-preview-primary-button