Reading the forward to Valda Bailey's photobook leaves you in no doubt where she stands artistically about photography: "Nothing is more dispiriting and destructive to the creative spirit than conventional wisdom dictating that the rule of thirds, f/16 and the golden sunset must converge in perfect harmony in order for an image to be deemed successful."
My soul purred at such frank honesty, especially as I'm also someone whose membership lapsed a long time ago of that landscape sub-genre perhaps better known as Camera Club Formulaic. And Bailey's 35 colour photographs, some rich, some delicate and all made using multiple exposures and intentional camera movement, didn't disappoint either.
We need artists who are able to offer an alternative approach, who push the boundaries. As the painter George Bellows said, it's the artist who makes life more interesting or beautiful, more understandable or mysterious. There's a painterly quality to Bailey's work too, which the book gives a flavour of through reasonable print quality and caption-less single page images in a medium sized robust hardcover.
At this price the book represents excellent value and there is also an edition at £40 that includes an A3 print. My fingers are crossed that there will be enough positive feedback and sales to encourage Bailey and her publishers Triplekite to produce a larger and more sumptuous monograph further down the line, perhaps in the style of their lavish Seaworks by Paul Kenny.
In the meantime, Fragile serves as a fitting testament to both Bailey's innovative photographic vision and her highly individual creative spark.