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Art Photobook Reviews

The Archive of Bernard Taylor ~ Selected and Edited by Peter Ward and Agloe by Tom Lecky

Tom Lecky is quietly becoming a master storyteller. A superb puppeteer and manipulator of narrative.

His blurring of worlds and intertwining of fact and fiction, is an exploration that thus far runs through all of his projects.

The man’s genius is in the myriad ways from which he approaches his preoccupation.

In his first book, “Home”, the memories of an anonymous narrator are applied to a vacant but fully furnished house.

The two disparate elements culminating in a plausible but ultimately imagined narrative.

Whispered recollections in empty rooms.

2021 had seen two new releases. For the first, the sublime “The Archive of Bernard Taylor”, Lecky created and constructed not only an entire archive, but the protagonist responsible.

Releasing it into the world without a hint of explanation, “Bernard Taylor”, is a truly masterful and magical photobook.

As such it I feel it therefore deserves a few words that reflect the authenticity Lecky has lavished upon it.

This stunning archive by elusive local photographer and historian, Bernard Taylor was purchased at an estate sale by film maker Peter Ward.

Pastoral landscapes and architectural details are augmented with maps, postards, and all manner of printed material in a glorious documentation of a local community and its environs.

Initially released by Taylor as a private edition of just 50 copies and distributed to family and friends, publisher Understory books had the opportunity send this gorgeous collection out into the wider world by reprinting the volume in a larger more easily accessible trade edition of 500 copies.

In a statement by publisher Tom Lecky, he states that in order to remain true in spirit to the original, the decision was made not to re edit or to offer amendment or clarification to the original annotations and other printed ephemera integral to the artist’s original vision.

Therefore what we have presented to us is a faithfully reproduced version of the original.

A magical book, for so many reasons, i encourage you to take the journey.


Agloe, Lecky’s second release of the year, concerns itself with a non existent town, created in the 1930s as a copyright trap for future cartographers.

Although the money making trap ultimately failed, the “paper town” did indeed find its way onto local maps, and as a result has been something of a curiosity and tourist attraction ever since.

Lecky made his own pilgrimage to Agloe in 2014, rapidly photographing the local landscape in a 90 minute blur of activity.

The resulting edition has now been chronologically sequenced. Resulting in yet another bucolic twilight zone photo novella.

Agloe is such a pretty word. It not only describes this little drop of perfection, but also the sensation you experience when you allow yourself to be complicit in its conceit.


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