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Home Instruction Manual - What makes the ideal home?

6 years ago

"For each project, I always start with an initial idea, then spend months researching and exploring it playfully in sketchbooks. This time I’ve been working with photographs and video as well. I don’t want to give too much away yet but I’m excited to see how the work evolves over the coming months."

Jan McCullough, a photographer living and working in Belfast, Northern Ireland, was the winner of the graduate series prize in the 2016 Breakthrough Awards, organised by British Journal of Photography.

She recently spoke to BJP one year on from her win to talk success and progress, explaining she's found: 

" enthusiasm for the possibilities of a physical installation in a gallery context. For the next works, I’m interested in developing this aspect of my practice, considering new ways to present my work specific to its subject... I want to play around with how my installations could generate an experience for the viewer, guiding them to consider their own encounters with photography in the construction of their identity." 


Jan won the coveted prize with her series 'Home Instruction Manual', a project exploring what it means to find the ideal home. Taken from a 1950s manual for military wives that she found in a secondhand shop, Jan rented an empty home for a month, decorated it according to modern online advice, and photographed the results in a deliberately amateur style.


The Breakthrough Awards offer both graduate and undergraduates the chance to win. Both are divided into series and single image categories. The jury this year includes Maisie Skidmore, online editor of AnOther Magazine; Emma Bowkett, photography director of the FT Weekend Magazine, and Emma Lewis, assistant curator of Tate Modern. Winners will be published in BJP’s online and printed channels as well as taking part in the group show.

Find out more about the 2017 Breakthrough Awards