Nick Waplington‘s Anaglypta was the Charcoal Photobook of the Month selection for April, 2021, but I didn’t receive it from Charcoal, as I preordered this signed copy from Dashwood almost a year ago.* I’m not sure where I heard about it… maybe an email from Dashwood, even, but it’s been sitting on the to-be-reviewed shelf/shelves since I received it, well, until I started work on this review, anyway.
Anaglypta is a near-chronological seeming collection of Waplington’s photographs, shot between 1980-2020, of what seem to be friends and acquaintances in the punk/raver/left wing protestor scenes in London (and environs) in the early years, and more so in New York (for Occupy, especially) and other raves and things in the later years. If it weren’t for the slight differences in clothes and hair, and the mostly British-looking faces, it would look quite a bit like pictures I might have made between about 14 and 54.**.
Of course, I don’t have much in the way of pictures before about 2000, and even then, it’s just a roll here and there. Waplington, though, writes about picking up a camera at 14 and starting to document the post-punk era in hopes of getting a few photos into some fanzines. From fanzines to a book that both Dashwood and Charcoal publicize in 40-odd years? Not bad!
And neither are the pictures. They come mostly in series of 2 or 5 or 35, and several groups are complete unpublished projects. Morrissey appears, shirtless and crooning, in his prime at some sort of outdoor venue (the notes say “Countey Hall, London, 1984”). And through the photographs, we see the punks sort of age, going from underground clubs to drunken brawls to anti-nuclear demonstrations to raves to art galleries, so it’s sorta no surprise that Waplington is also a painter with a few exhibitions under his belt.
A long series of pictures show Waplington in front of (what the notes tell us) are nuclear power plants and reprocessing facilities. The photographs remind me of various selfies I attempted to make back in the old East Dallas apartment, one in particular, where I wrote
out of ~400 shots, fully 250 were out of focus thanks to the flaky af, which—to be honest—never gave me any problems before, so it’s likely I was just doing something wrong. Another 130 or so had me looking particularly goofy, as I am wont to do in photos. And many of the remaining usable ones captured me in full-on rage mode, or looking rather vacant.Me. 365.152, 28 May 2012.
Waplington had a different attitude and project in mind (probably no about me page in 1992), and most of a whole roll’s worth made it into his book… Gogo.
Text intrudes only one time, about 1/4 of the way through, by a one page statement and several pages of notes on the photos, mostly person or venue or project, city, year. Otherwise, the mass of 512 pictures come tumbling one after another, and accrue sort of like a life. You see some of the same people, I think, several times, apparently friends of Waplington that he’s stuck around with photographed many times over the 4 decades.
Makes me want to reach out to a couple of people I haven’t talked to in awhile.
I like this book much more the third, fourth time through, and Charcoal subscribers are a fortunate and privileged bunch. The pictures are raw and natural, no Magnum or Capital-S Street-ogs here, and the book is put together fairly well: right-sized and easy to flip through. My only complaint is the vast number of horizontal pictures presented in such a way that you have to turn the book sideways to view. I ended up looking at it sorta catty-cornered with my neck twisted out of shape…
Overall, I rate it a solid 3.8 stars.
You can still find copies of Anaglypta direct from Jesus Blue and at various fine booksellers (Dashwood, Setanta, and others I’m sure). Many of the pictures appear (I think) in various projects on Waplington’s website. I say “I think” because there are so many in the book that I can’t really be sure, and there’s no mention of Anaglypta (or anything after about 2019) on his exhibition or publication lists.
*Instead of receiving Anaglypta, I was easily able to swap the selection for a book from Charcoal’s inventory, and received Chieko Shiraishi’s Shikawatari instead at no cost. I buy so many photobooks (and shame on me) that I sometimes already have the photobook-of-the-month before it’s even announced, and I’ve swapped 3 or 4 times now with no issue at all.
** At time of writing, I’m 43.