Alishia Farnan

University: Glasgow School of Art

Graduation: 2015

Genre: Fine Art, Documentary

Website: www.alishia.co.uk

Artist StatementAll Is Now Here is an exercise in looking – a documentation of contemporary Scottish landscape. Functioning as a photographic diary the work is created day to day and is a series of incidental moments.

I am drawn to buildings and spaces which have communal use – social clubs, hotels, cafes, and I feel that the presence of the users can be visible even when they are absent from the frame.

From the series All Is Now Here

From the series All Is Now Here

What are some standout moments from your time at university? I studied on a commercial photography course for two years before I moved to Glasgow School of Art. Having that change of direction and moving to a course within an art school really helped shape my understanding of the possibilities for photography as an art form. I think that is a stand out moment not only for my time at university but it was a great opportunity for myself as a maker too. The other moment that I am really thankful for was the opportunity to speak to one of the photographers I most admire whilst writing my final year essay. Talking to them about using alternative means for creating photographs, specifically the mobile phone, was a really exciting and reassuring moment for me as it was the direction my work was starting to take.

Which photographic genre do you consider your work to fall into? Trying to define this has always been a bit of a struggle for me. Some days I think my work falls into fine art, some days I think it’s strictly documentary, other times I don’t think it’s artistic at all. I prescribe to the idea of work being categorised by the viewer rather than the artist as I think this lends itself better to a more open critique of the work itself. I would be extremely interested to hear what genre other people think my work falls into.

From the series All Is Now Here

From the series All Is Now Here

What themes do you find yourself exploring? I’m interested in the places where people choose to spend their time, how those places function and what they look like. The majority of my work over the years has been a variation on these themes albeit sometimes less successfully than others!

Why do you think it's important to photograph your chosen locations empty? Have you ever photographed them with people using the space and realised it doesn't work? When I first started to document spaces I worked a lot with the people who use them but after a while I found that I wasn’t actually all that interested in documenting people. I don’t think it is strictly necessary to document these spaces being used to capture a sense of community or of use. I get more of an understanding of these places when I explore them alone and I can sit on the seats, touch the walls or stand in the toilets for more time than is usually acceptable!

From the series All Is Now Here

From the series All Is Now Here

Who are some important photographers to you and your work? I have three photographers who have been constant inspirations since I began making work - Stephen Shore, William Eggleston and Joel Sternfeld. Their way of seeing and documenting their surroundings has really shaped my understanding of photography as art.  

Is this body of work complete? This project has an indefinite timeline. The more images I make for it the more I want to make. I think because the theme is so broad I could continue this series for years and never be finished. I don’t think I will ever become bored with documenting the Scottish landscape as there are so many variations on that theme. With this project I have been visiting homes, hotels, community centres, ferries - there are so many more I want to see and show people.

What was your choice of camera equipment for this series? I work with mobile phones as my primary medium for making photographs. The nature of my work is usually really intuitive as I find these places and tend to make the work on the spot. Working with something that is always on me has really opened up my practise and has allowed me to create the work I always wanted to make. 

From the series All Is Now Here

From the series All Is Now Here

What motivated you to use your phone to create this work? Do you think it’s important to always have a camera accessible to you, just in case you stumble upon a new location, or do you find yourself taking too many photographs? I have been working with mobile phone cameras for about 3 years, so making this body of work with that medium seemed second nature to me. I think having a way of making work with something that is so common place for other reasons is extremely exciting, so I use it as my preferred method. I don’t believe I ever take too many photographs - one of the great things about using a phone is that I can always access my images whenever I have a spare minute, so I am constantly reassessing old images and seeing them with new eyes.

From the series All Is Now Here

From the series All Is Now Here

Would the lack of quality from a camera phone limit ways in which you’d exhibit this work? Have you exhibited this work before? If not, have you got ideas for ways in which you would? As I have been working with phones for a few years now, I have used quite a few different models and have seen a great change in the quality of images I am able to produce. I have worked with these images in quite a few different ways - projection, large scale print, postcards, books. I don’t see these images as any different to those taken on a film or with a digital SLR - I think images can do anything you want them to do.

If you could make work anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do? There isn’t one particular place in the world where I would like to go and make work. I enjoy making work wherever I am be it during my day to day, or when I travel. I would definitely be interested in the possibility of making similar works in different countries but for now I am still very enthusiastic about making work in Scotland!