Tuesday, April 5

Format Festival in Derby, UK. Part 4: Monday

My last day at Format, and I bid farewell to the Kingsway Retail Park Travelodge at the crack of dawn. I have accumulated an array of portable food over the past few days – fruit and biscuits mainly – and the leftovers come in handy for a quick breakfast, as the hotel has no dining facilities.

The University is the main item on the agenda today – it is host to more than a dozen exhibitions, and is a little way out from the town centre. After getting the bus into town, I stop to study the outdoor Magnum display outside Quad in real detail for the first time. I get into conversation with a man with a camera who turns out to be Jack Simon – an excellent photographer whose work I have long admired online – who is exhibiting at the University.

Trudging out to the University – usually it would be a stroll, but my feet are still giving me gyp – I hear a Monkees song blaring out from a vintage clothes shop. Yes, them again. I pop into Vintage Romance to discuss the finer points of the Monkees career (including the experimental stuff) with the owner... She likes taxidermy.

I am tempted by these leftover chips but I had just eaten an egg, mayo and onion roll from The Cob Shop (awarded five stars by Derby City Council Food and Hygiene).

I spend about an hour at the University in the end – I wish it could have been much longer. The University is a very impressive modern building. Although a bit off the beaten track, the exhibitors generally have a lot more space here than at Quad. As well as Jack Simon’s pictures, of particular note are Andrew Glickman’s large subway pictures (within black frames but without glass – this seemed to be a great way to display prints), Alessandro Marchi’s large street landscape work, Stephen McLaren’s London work, and Laurence Stephens’s supermarket pictures. I chatted to Lawrence on the opening night, and he gets permission from the shop owners to shoot inside, but then takes candid close-up shots with a big SLR and flash, which must take a lot of nerve.

Then back to the town centre to see the In-Public show again, and then train station. I just make my 1 o’clock train.

UPDATE: Format is now officially over, although the exhibitions are still up at Quad and the Museum and Art Gallery according to the festival guide (please check before travelling!). The University shows are definitely no more.

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