Having studied photography in Bournemouth, the sea air has clearly informed Oliver Marshall’s work, much of which is sited in Margate. The seaside town on the Kentish coast has proved the perfect muse for Oliver, and his thoughtfully framed and beautifully coloured imagery captures the faded glamour of Dreamland as well as it does a discarded cigarette butt or a pretty girl in furs. The young creative’s Instagram is a similarly rich treasure trove of imagery that veers from dreamy skies to detritus with skill and ease to form a body of work by a chap who we reckon is very commissionable indeed.
His work has arisen from not just a place of creativity, but one of pride. “Martin Parr once told me to quit, I suppose I’m trying to prove him wrong,” says Oliver. It was at the age of 16 as part of a local photography competition I was lucky enough to meet Martin Parr where I took the chance to show him my portfolio, which at the time was a combination of skatepark photos and portraits of my friends. Safe to say it was nothing special but something I was proud of.”
Studying in Bournemouth, Oliver said that at times he found the restrictions of the time were a helpful catalyst in seeing him travel around the UK, and explore different areas. “That led me to more ideas and personal projects,” he says.”The best thing about going to university for me was the luxury of time, to have three years to develop, focus and find a way of working that suits me, just having the time to go out and take photos with my friends.”
Oliver cites Tom Wood, Harley Weir, Jamie Hawksworth and Alec Soth having informed his work, and he says he looks to bygone eras for inspiration for his images.
“At the start of my second year my photography progressed when I started to shoot in a way that I was happy with and felt I could put my name to,” says Oliver. “I started to take my camera everywhere taking photos as much as I could practicing in various lighting conditions and experimenting with different types of film. My photography developed mostly outside of university work but without the resources it wouldn’t have been possible.”
During his time at uni, The White Swan project was Oliver’s favourite. Inspired by the 1970s and featuring part of Topman’s SS15 collection, the series presented Oliver with more challenges than any other at uni, with lighting, location and models. “But overcoming these is why I think I am more attached to this work than any other,” he says. “That and the fact I got to watch a lot of Life On Mars as research material. In this project I got to revisit the pub I made a connection with from my foundation degree, I have a soft spot for old pub interiors its something about the colours, textures, patterns and lighting I can’t get enough of.”
After finishing uni, Oliver plans to move back to his hometown of Margate and continue working on his project The Greatest Show On Earth, which focuses on the re-generation of the town as Dreamland theme park re-opens.
“As long as I still have the time to go out and make photos, I’ll be happy wherever I end up in this next year, the most important part now for me is to continue making work and developing on what I have learnt over the three years of study,” he says.
G . F Smith
It’s Nice That’s Graduates 2016 is kindly supported by G . F Smith, whose gorgeous range of papers and services can be just the thing for new and soon-to-be creative grads. The 130-year-old paper company has a long history of working with designers and artists at all stages of their careers, with its high-quality and innovative paper products offering a huge range of creative possibilities.