Looking for Looking for Love
Tom Wood / Gareth McConnell

140 Pages (92 colour plates)
19.5 x 24.5 cm
Hardcover / white linen bound / gold debossed cover & spine
Each cover individually signed & editioned by the artist
Clear PVC wrap around dust-jacket
Double sided poster 42.5 x 33.5 cm (folded 17 x 21.2 cm)
Risograph on 120gsm Munken paper
Edition of 250
Including a major new essay on the work by David Chandler and additional texts by Neal Brown and Gareth McConnell
Concept and design by Gareth McConnell


ISBN: 978-0-9575573-6-9


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Looking for Looking for Love is a reworking of one of the seminal photographic books of the 1980′s. Tom Wood’s photographs of the clientele of the Chelsea Reach Nightclub in New Brighton, Merseyside were taken between 1984-87 and first published as Looking For Love in 1989. Wood was a regular at the club and shot thousands of pictures over a number of years, however due to budget constraints at the time of printing only a fraction of these were reproduced as full plates in the original Cornerhouse publication. Wishing to honour the cooperation of his subjects and to communicate the scope of the work, the artist constructed a collage (subsequently stolen) to be printed as a double page spread in the opening pages of the book. This new monograph takes this collage as its starting point, the images that fill the pages of the book are faithful in shape, but not scale or sequence, to the artist’s original construction, scanned from Gareth McConnell’s personal copy of the book, the visible dot matrix and asymmetric shapes engenders the portraits with an energy and vibrancy that not only frees the images from the tyranny of the photographic rectangle but makes them almost bounce off the page. Looking for Looking for Love is a chance to revisit a series of photographs by one of the true underground heroes of British photography and catch a glimpse of British nightlife on the cusp of rave and the acid house phenomenon. Included are essays by Professor David Chandler, the author, artist and critic Neal Brown and the photographer and publisher Gareth McConnell.


Tom Wood trained as a painter at the conceptually orientated Leicester Polytechnic from 1973–76, his first exploration of lens-based media was through extensive viewing of experimental films. His work is held in numerous collections including The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The International Centre of Photography, New York, The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, The Victoria & Albert Museum, London and the The National Media Museum, Bradford. Recent monographs include Men and Women (Steidl, 2013) and Photie Man (Steidl, 2005). Recent solo exhibitions include Tom Wood: Photographs 1973 – 2013, The National Media Museum, Bradford 2013, Men and Women, Thomas Erben, New York, 2013, and Men and Woman, The Photographers Gallery, London, 2012.


David Chandler wrote the original introduction for Looking for Love in 1989 while working as Exhibitions Organiser at The Photographers’ Gallery, London. It was his first published book essay and at the time he was dismayed to discover that, on publication, it had been chopped from 2500 to 500 words… We are proud to announce that he has grasped this opportunity to even out the scales! David had also worked as a curator for The National Portrait Gallery and went on to be Director of Photoworks from 1997 to 2010. He is now Professor of Photography at Plymouth University. Recent writings include those on the work of Rinko Kawauchi, in Illuminance (Aperture, 2011); on Paul Graham, both the extended essay, ‘A Thing There Was That Mattered…‘ in his survey monograph (SteidlMack, 2009), and a new essay in Beyond Caring (Errata Editions, 2010); on Jem Southam, in the book Clouds Descending (The Lowry, 2008); and the text for a recent survey monograph on Peter Fraser (Tate, 2013).


Neal Brown is the author of Meditations on Art Hate (L-13, 2010), Tracey Emin (Tate Publishing, 2006), Mat Collishaw (Other Criteria, 2006), and Billy Childish: A Short Study (L-13, 2008). As well as writing for ArtReview, he has written about art for Flash ArtFriezeArt Monthly, Modern Painters, ParkettArt and ChristianityTate Etc., and the Independent on Sunday. He curated To The Glory of God: New Religious Art at the second Liverpool Biennial (2002).


Gareth McConnell is a photographer, writer, educator and publisher. Recent exhibitions include Observers: A History of British Photography, 1930’s to Now, Sao Paulo Biennale, 2013 and Northern Ireland, 30 Years of Photography, The Mac, Belfast 2013. His most recent achievement is the art direction and publication of the fantastic Horse Latitudes by Chris Wilson also on the SORIKA imprint. In a past life he also shot many editorials and commissions for international publications such as The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Time, GQ, W, Dazed & Confused, AnOther Magazine and Vogue.


Tom Wood and Gareth McConnell: Gareth McConnell and Tom Wood
By Neal Brown

There is Merseyside and its fine people, and there is Tom Wood, who photographed them at the Chelsea Reach nightclub in the 1980s, with an endorsing rather than a destructive attention. McConnell has made this book, based on two collages Wood made of his own images, by reworking them in a scrupulous exercise in reassembly. The images – the originals stolen, lost – have been scanned by McConnell from his own copy of the book.

McConnell has, in a homage, devised a new specification for Wood’s work, faithfully retracing the individual elements of the collages, and separating these elements in strict accordance with the contours created by their tiled boundaries. It is a coming together of separations: of parallelograms, improbable gestalt-ish angles, indents and other weird geometries, within whose mortice joints are contained a pagan magic – the soul-spirits of young Liverpudlians, enjoying their once great, happy courtship derangements. Wood’s photographs – proxy selfies – show a great deal of affectionately tactile engagement (not just gropes) amongst his young subjects, and McConnell’s project is related to ideas of physical closeness and separation, too: the interrelatedness of the paper of the original collage, the literal retracing of contour lines, the physicality of the ink on the original paper surfaces of his copy of the book.

Wood began some kind of disruptive process in his own work when he introduced into one of the two collages a rupture, running left to right, upsetting the neatly tiled ordering of the images, and in the other collage, a spiral that functioned similarly. In this way he changed the relationship of the original images, closing down the possibility – not that one really existed – of a sensible narrative reading. What McConnell is doing is pushing Wood’s own auto-subversion to a level of rare abstraction, so rare that it may challenge understanding. McConnell’s project could be described as a cross between the kinds of art practice that might take a line for a walk (Paul Klee), with those that cast the negative voids of something solid (Bruce Nauman), or recreate something (the Battle of Orgreave, Jeremy Deller), or engage in a little social examination (Stephen Willats). Less art-worldly, and more spiritually (perhaps), it’s as if McConnell has travelled a great distance to a sacred quarry, to gather a source material – Wood’s images become McConnell’s own version of bluestones, or menhirs, which he has carried over a rough landscape, hundreds of difficult miles, to monumentalise at a new holy site.

In this way McConnell has made himself a kind of Stonehenge: a monument of freestanding, two-dimensional forms, whose architecture contains powerful energy, arranged in a coded, magico-religious arrangement on the page. Although it’s unlikely that McConnell is just breaking up the menhirs of a previous religion to make himself a house, his reassembling of Wood’s work is certainly a highly personal one. It is both funerary and commemoratively affirmative: a revered burial site of beautiful youth and its pockmarked skin, its drive for sex and intoxication, and its drive for hope.



The Guardian