Photography BA (hons)

Julia Mackenzie

By Mere Chance

Digital and analogue photographic publications in paper and cloth folios

This collection of works is inspired by the Playfair Library and the book, Vida’s Art of Poetry. The empty silence inside the library intrigued me. I started on the work by recording this through photography before investigating the catalogues. The title, By Mere Chance, is taken from a poem in the book.

The imagery resonates with the poems and pair nicely with my appreciation of ephemeral beauty and the simplicity within the little things in everyday life. 


Source material

Marco Girolamo Vida, Vida’s Art of Poetry Translated into English Verse by the Reverend Mr. Christopher Pitt. (London, 1725)
DiscoverEd URL

Shelf mark

Special Collections: *S.33.68 

Playfair location: *S.33.68

Julia Mackenzie

Portrait & interview

1. What was it about this project and brief that originally appealed to you?

Originally, I was interested in book making, so took this project in order to learn.

2. What was your approach in searching for material that you wanted to work with?

I have always enjoyed poetry and wondered what kind of old poetry books I could find. I was looking forward to handling these books with care after looking at them online. 

3. Did you find anything about the project challenging?

Being a beginner to book making, I struggled with making the book look neat – so it took me a few attempts to really get it right. 

4. What unexpected discoveries did you manage to make during your research?

I had to take into account the type of paper to use. I wanted to use textured paper but sadly couldn’t, it didn’t do the pictures justice. 

5. How has this project had impact on your art practice?

This project has had a huge impact on my art practice. It made me consider my work in book form, which I really liked – and it’s something I will do again soon.  

6. Did your final output end up as you’d envisaged?

I wanted my books to have a nicer feel to them using recycled cup cartridge paper but sadly couldn’t, I was only able to do this to a few prints inside the folders I made, but overall I am still happy with how they turned out and I now know how to make a book! 

7. What advice would you give to someone doing this project next year?

My advice to someone taking this next year is to really get into the library and look at the books as soon as you can! It’s a great opportunity. 

Copyright & open licence

Copyright © Julia Mackenzie, The University of Edinburgh 2020 CC BY-SA

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

CC BY-SA license