Highly compelling photography from the Glasgow School of Art soon-to-be graduate, who explores the complexity of masculinity
Dominic Manderson is an undeniably talented photographer — he not only looks and captures — he observes, immerses, and reflects to create clarity in what he’s seeing. This is storytelling at its best; a fly on the wall style photography, that gets in between the action. Piece by piece — each photography captures, reveals and develops the story.
His new graduate series ‘Outvie’, explores and documents the role of masculinity at the Royal Shrovetide Football Match held annually in Ashbourne, Derbyshire. Across two days, the town is split into two teams, determined by a river that runs through. Dominic tells us, with the limited rules, hundreds of men sprawl in huddles across the town. To score is a momentous achievement within the community due to the game’s illustrious legacy. His work “questions the line between tradition and patriarchal dominance, and considers the idea of whether this allowance of men to temporarily fulfil their desired image of masculinity, does more harm than good”, he continues, “I particularly focus on younger generations, within the context of a society that now questioning the norms of gender, will they emulate the traditions of the past to keep this game alive?”.
What an incredibly dynamic series, one that drops both bold and nuanced views of masculinity. Dominic admits he was apprehensive about documenting Shrovetide, which is infamous for its aggressive media representation. He was quickly corrected when welcomed in by the locals over a pint and a chat. “As mad as it was, being within the hug (a scrum that naturally forms whilst the two teams battle it out) running through fields, hedges, climbing onto people’s fencing and getting hit the face a good amount of times; I could weirdly feel the sense of community and authenticity that is established from the game”, he discloses. “Their ‘local game for local people’ mentality may be taken as ‘post-Brexit’ mentality whereas, in actual fact, it’s due to the gradual disconnect of its historical roots that is happening because of non-locals participating. It seems to be the fear of losing what is the beating heart of the town that has developed this attitude”, Dominic explains. He engages and goes to great depths to sympathise with the societal and political layers of this game.
Dominic grew up in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria but, is soon to graduate from the Glasgow School of Art BA communication design course, specialising in photography. His practice makes up a combination of portraiture and documentary photography, that “particularly questions masculinity within the modern age”. He tells us, “I have a fascination with analysing the gender and the complexities that are interlinked within the everyday”. Dominic’s area of interest for documenting Shrovetide feels somewhat personal to him, “I believe this focus comes from my own difficulty adapting to masculine environments during my own adolescence. Though I could see the truth through the façade, contradictory there’s no doubt I have indulged within these spaces; perhaps from an initial fear of appearing weak”, he reveals to us.
There’s so much more on the horizon for Dominic, as an incredible talent we’re certainly keeping an eye on him — we urge you to do the same. “This is definitely the beginning of a larger project where I work with youth to acknowledge and challenge these traditional preconceptions of masculinity, whether that being photographic and or working with an organisation. In addition, I want to use the skills I have learnt from this experience of visual storytelling and this photography style to be adopted within my future work”, he expresses. We’re already on the edge of our seats, eager to see more.