FOLKTOGRAPHY: A decon/reconstruction

Hello everyone, how the devil are you?

I’m mightily excited to tell you that the lovely folk at EFDSS (the English Folk Dance and Song Society) have asked me to put together an exhibition of my work to be displayed at Cecil Sharp House from January 16th next year. This will feature a selection of my existing promotional work on the folk scene and a brand new series of commissioned pieces which will be based around our collective vision of what “folk” is, stereotypes and all.

Now, here’s the thing: I NEED YOUR HELP!

I mentioned that these new pieces will be depicting ‘our collective vision of “folk”‘, which means I need to do a spot of research, which is where you super people come in! Here’s a little photo poster share-able image thing:


Funky glasses, no? As the image suggests, I’d love to know what you think of when someone talks about “folk”. Visually speaking, what images come to mind? Does your mind instantly hop to the classic stereotypes or do you see more into the community element? I want to hear as many ideas as possible.

As well as what instantly comes to mind, I’d also hugely appreciate your thoughts on the following:

– Regular features on folk album covers / promo photos?
– What you would NEVER see on a folk album cover?
– What would you LIKE to see on a folk album cover? (This can be as wild as you fancy!)

You can either comment with your ideas on this blog or head on over to the Facebook post here.

Here’s my little artist’s statement:

FOLKTOGRAPHY: A decon/reconstruction

You should know from the start that I adore this scene in which we move and play. I love the characters that inhabit it, the vast array of traditions that root it and the mavericks who run off and take it in new directions. As someone who is unabashedly fascinated by the human relationship with aesthetics, the folk scene provides a veritable treasure chest of inspiration. However, we’ve not always been the most visually aware bunch…

“Folktography” looks at the visual stereotypes most associated with the music we love and, with the interactive help of social media, I’ll be creating a series of images that that first depict these stereotypes and then seek to visually explore what lies beyond them – from Crocs and corduroy right the way through to the wildly unexpected.

And here’s what the nice folk at EFDSS are saying:

Folktography is a new exhibition by photographer and musician Elly Lucas. Commissioned by EFDSS, Lucas will present a series of self-portraits playing with the stereotypes associated with the visual side to English folk music. Sourced from a social media campaign, the ephemera depicted will explore both the predictable – from Crocs and corduroy – right the way through to the wildly unexpected, with Lucas’ tongue firmly planted in cheek.

Sheffield based Elly Lucas is part of a duo with musician David Gibb, but is also fast becoming the ‘go-to’ photographer for A-list folk musicians. She is deeply rooted in the history, music and aesthetics of folk culture.

The private view coincides with Elly Lucas and David Gibb’s performance at Cecil Sharp House, Thursday 16 January 2014.

The exhibition runs 16 January – April 2014.”

If you know anyone who might be vaguely interested in contributing an idea or two, please share this blog with them! I’d really very much love to get a mix of ideas from right the way across the board.

Thanks so much for your time,

E x


10 thoughts on “FOLKTOGRAPHY: A decon/reconstruction

  1. A sign in an Edinburgh pub window: Live Folk on Fridays – which made me wonder about the clientele every other day. Warm woolly jumpers, foot-tapping in old fashioned bars, beer, mud. The countryside, gorgeous views over clifftops or farmland, fiddles, wellington boots and waterproofs. A sprawl of musicians seated or reclined, playing instruments as life goes on around them.
    The above fits into ‘things that pop into my mind’ category. I’ll think more about the folk album questions…

  2. I think about a family formed of like minded friends. A circle of tents, everyone sitting together playing music on the grass (lots of violins and squeezeboxes even though I play the flute!). There’s definitely a cheese board…and laughter, people talking together and enjoying the company of others. Morris bells, boarder morris dancers and their hats, wellies, our beautiful countryside. There are so many wonderful memories!

  3. Bearded men on guitars singing endless songs and dreary old hippy type women in long flowing clothes and lank hair singing listless feeble songs. All of above in dank cold slightly smelly back rooms of pubs. People taking themselves a bit too seriously.

  4. Immediatly I always see landscapes or other enviroments when I listen to a lot of folk. Often the stories in the songs are just as much about suggesting a time and place as the people, So…A landscape, that is both farmed and wild…a landscape which has a history and yet is currently used and developed.

  5. Folk music is the music of ordinary people – that is, it is not entertainment industry driven, nor is it carefully structured intellectual stuff like classical or jazz. So it tells stories and it easily reaches your heart, it shouts about injustice and it is often, very often a haven for wonderful musicians and songwriters who just don’t fit anywhere else. Exciting it is for all that.

  6. Visually? The sky. Hills, fields, boats on oceans, wild flowers, corn dollies, knitting and knitwear. Banjos, fiddles, melodeons. And yes, bearded men, especially in sort of fairisle tank tops and brown shoes (even in London). Sam-Sweeney-Trousers, real fires, real ale. Candlelight flickering. Silhouettes of rural things eg crows, wagon-wheels, ears of wheat. Horizon. Cushions. Solid oak. Green lanes, green men, lytch-gates, weather. Nine men’s morris. Canal boats. Gypsy caravans. Ghosts. Inglenook fireplaces and old beams.

    Regular features on cds/promo – grass (too often), long hair being emphasised, bunting, people lying down and/or with bare shoulders, especially the women (why?), trees, instruments (good), people looking over their shoulders, good fonts. Leaves, always leaves everywhere. Bad-looking things, like purple textures or rust. Fringes. Trees and roots.

    NEVER see – tower blocks or council estates (real ones), big ben, police, gold hotpants, money, sportscars, champagne, spaceships, laughing, zebras or elephants or giraffes, lava lamps, jungles, pavements, motorways, plug-holes, iphones, jesus (the religious character), pyramids, meat, leotards. I think.

    LIKE to see – dodgems and ferris wheels, cakes, craft items, ancient houses from the outside, footprints in wet mud, wood-carvings close up, antiques, cut glass and broken things like in Emily’s shop out of Bagpuss, sign-painting fonts or else nice round ones, realistic-looking wildflower meadows (not too much yellow thanks), a two-finger salute or body-language equivalent, swept-gilt frames. old stone things like they have on dartmoor. Anything in paragraph 1 above. Ribbons. Baskets. Castles, battlements, drawbridges. Those old-fashioned etch drawings of places or maps. Lazslo Koday-style naive art. Happy colours or muted ones. Milk-churns and spotted handkins, hay bales, cream teas, bone china, windmills, lighthouses, hot air balloons, kites. Old-fashioned train carriages (the british rail ones that went out in the 80s). Fireworks. Pub-signs. Anything, actually.

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