“Coalville”, 2018 | Christopher Mear


Christopher Mear is an English photographer who studied at Staffordshire University (Foundation Degree in Arts, 2011). His first book, Just Passing By, was published by Snibston Discovery Museum in 2014 who also organised his first solo exhibition a year earlier (2013). Chris has recently completed a year long commission from Melbourne Arts Festival, photographing the market gardening community in South Derbyshire.

We asked Christopher about his series.

I started photographing Coalville in 2008, when I was a student at Burton College - at the other end of the A511. Initially I was drawn to the town for purely aesthetic reasons; I was only interested in the way it looked and nothing more. I was photographing candid moments and visually interesting observations. I think I was also drawn to the name ‘Coalville’, it was so simple and confident. You know exactly what you’re walking into with a town called ‘Coalville’.

After I graduated, and my photographic interests had developed, I began to get more interested in politics and history, and my relationship with the place. I started to pick-up a bit of photography work here and there too, which introduced me to loads of interesting and supportive people. Eventually, this led to me being taken under the wing of an arts project at Snibston Discovery Museum - the museum that replaced Coalville’s former pit - and they provided funding to develop my pictures of Coalville further. That’s the point in which the images shifted from ‘candid moments’ and ‘interesting pictures’ to serving as a document and a socially engaged encounter.

More recently, towards the backend of the decade, I met another local photographer who is a full-time carer and Facebook author of ‘Coalville Photographed’. He became my ‘subject’ for two years also as part of my series. This became the opportunity to turn my camera inwards - in a way that didn’t feel to invasive or self-indulgent - and consider the process of the photographer and how they manipulate the viewers experience and understanding of a piece of space and time.

Ultimately, I think ‘Coalville’ is a meandering narrative of a young mans conflicted and evolving relationship with the post-industrial landscape he has little choice but to call home.

To see more of Christopher's work, visit www.christophermear.co.uk

All images and text © Christopher Mear