Coverless Volume One

Welcome to another A LOOK AT article. In this series we examine the work that you are producing. If you’d like to see all the great publications we’ve looked at thus far, you can find all the A LOOK AT articles here. Today we have the debut volume from Coverless.

If you’re not familiar with Coverless, Jacob Dear and Mike Butt are documentary photography students in the UK that are passionate about shedding light on things that matter. Let’s hear what they have to say about Coverless :

Coverless is a photographic collective primarily focussing on contemporary & documentary photography by producing self published zines.


Coverless was created with the ideology to create a platform for photographers which create projects/bodies of work that are of pressing matters which should be in the public domain. 

Brilliant, right? Who doesn’t like the idea of awesome art that is thought-provoking? What’s not to like. There’s something really admirable about people who use their skill for selfless reasons such as these. Let’s take a look at who features in this volume.

The first section features Mike Butt’s Sparrows. In this section, Mike captures Gwen, his grandmother. It’s a telling narrative of a lovely lady that, in spite of memory loss, still finds time to take care of Allan in their home. Here’s Mike’s foreword.

This section is beautiful. I am sure many of us can find something to admire in this section. It could be the marriage that has survived numerous decades. It could be the servitude of Gwen that continues to help her partner, even though she battles with memory loss. Or it could simply be the wonderful imagery. 

I think this spread accurately demonstrates the narrative well. The flower echoes the beauty of Gwen and her personality, but it also represents fragility and life. I think the fact that she is looking out of the window is interesting. As someone who also has a grandmother with memory loss related mental health issues, I can respect that this scenario is common. My grandmother often appears distant, gazing out to something unseen. This feels like an intimate moment that we otherwise would not see, but it also feels like a sensitive moment as we catch her daydreaming. 

This whole section feels like I have been invited to experience a cherished afternoon with Gwen and Allan. I think Mike has done exceptionally well to capture these images in the manner he has. Perhaps better than that is the way in which he has tastefully presented them with a maturity seldom found in a photographer of his age; brilliant work, Mike.

The next section comes courtesy of Jacob Dear and it is called 5Ks. Jacob explores the government approved construction project in Hinkley which has seen the expansion of the nuclear power station. As you might respect, not everyone has been enthusiastic to see this project go ahead, and local residents have been angered at the disturbance this has had on their everyday lives and the lasting impact it has left on the landscape.

I really enjoy these introductory pages: they set up the next section exceptionally well. Not only do they provide context to the pages that follow, but they also provide a weight to the narrative which might not have been conveyed otherwise. This, for example, might just look like a landscape effected my man-made construction, which it is, but now that we understand the eeriness that surrounds it with the sounds of the crackling pylons, it gives the spreads a new feel. I think it is a great example of this narrative technique.

The continuity between these images is genius. The manner in which Jacob has lined up these two images makes the narrative flow naturally; it allows the eye to organically move throughout the spread, from left to right. I think the framing also supports this “invader of the landscape” narrative exceptionally well. The man-made constructs like the pylons appear so out of place in these rural settings, and I think the nature of Jacob’s distant shooting helps that. Because there’s so much negative space, the sharp and harsh shapes of the distant buildings appear intrusive - out of place. I have to commend Jacob for this as it is obviously intentional.

This next section may be familiar to those of you that have followed us for a while. We love Daniel Keys. He was one of the first people to embrace YOUR EXHIBITION’s values, and since then he has contributed to the discussions we have had in the private group chats with a sensitivity, maturity and understanding that makes us proud to know him. One of the first things we ever featured of his was Concurrence, and here it features again, but this time in print. 

I think this series is of the highest merit. This is another great example of a photographer producing something beautiful out of something ugly. Here we see Daniel taking the opportunity to celebrate the diverse relationships he has built in spite of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. Let’s take a look at the images:

There is a real intimacy here. It is not everyday that we get to see someone’s bedroom; it requires a certainly level of relationship to be invited to one’s personal space. The manner in which these environmental portraits are also composed works well. It’s obvious that Daniel has a relationship with these people. There’s something in the eyes of both Hector and Maya that represent this well. I think their expressions are significant too. There’s a seriousness to them which makes me feel a little on edge. I believe this is intentional; I think it mirrors the emotions we can experience from such things as Brexit, and how helpless we can feel in the midst of such chaos.

I also want to appreciate the way that Daniel has included the subjects’ surroundings in the frame. We get the pleasure of getting to know the people he features through the things they have in their rooms. I have began to think: “What does my bedroom say about me?” I see similarities between Daniel Key’s Concurrence and James Mollison’s typology called Where Children Sleep. Both speak differently about different things, though the typological approaches, that feature people and their bedrooms sparked a thought I felt obliged to share.

Coverless’ debut zine does exactly what it sets out to do: it tastefully packages thought-provoking art from selfless creators and it does so whilst exciting us for the next volume. I personally enjoyed becoming more educated on pressing matters that don’t immediately impact me, but more importantly: I felt challenged. It has been too long since I’ve seen my grandma, I don’t fight to protect the beauty of the countryside which is constantly under threat, and I don’t spend enough time cherishing the relationships I have with people whilst they’re still in my lives. I implore you to join me in considering these subjects more in future. 

If you would like to support Coverless, then I recommend you consider picking up Volume Two. Here’s what they have to say about it:

V2 of Coverless is part of a new publication that is featured each month. It features Andy Martin and Nick St. Oegger who’s clients include Patagonia., Vice and The Calvert Journal, just to name a few. Both with work from the respective projects in South Africa and Albania. The zine  will be available online for pre-order in our Instagram page. All you need to do is send us a DM with a location address and we’ll do the rest.

Also, if you’re not following Coverless on Instagram, you can do so here. Also, make sure you’re following Mike Butt, Jacob Dear and Daniel Keys. They’re all producing exceptional work, and I think if this zine is anything to go by, you won’t want to miss what they produce in future.

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