University: Brighton University, MA Photography
On the grounds of Bolton Priory there is a place called The Strid where the full breadth of the River Wharf is turned sideways through an unmapped tangle of underwater caverns.
While beautiful, it has a macabre history. At the narrowest point the river appears just wide enough to cross at a leap. Many who have tried slip and fall to their deaths. Years of erosion have channelled out an underwater tomb below. The bodies of the drowned rarely surface.
These photos are about this place and the unique qualities that make it so dangerous and alluring.
The Striding Place: The initial brief for the series came from our Experimental Practice module. I grew up near the river Wharfe so the Strid was just something I’d always known about, but I didn’t realise the amount of history surrounding it until I started looking into it. The title is taken from a short horror story by Gertrude Atherton.
While making the work I was looking at British landscape photography like The River Winter by Jem Southam, but I think I was also influenced by more impressionistic stuff like Rinko Kawauchi. I shot the series on a few different cameras, some 120 film, some digital, and the studio work was done on a digital Hasselblad.
University experience and MA at Brighton University: I did my BA at Leeds College of Art, which was a great experience. I was a little older than most when I started, so I think I was able to appreciate what a good environment it was to be in. After that I worked as an in-house photographer for a creative agency in Leeds, which was wonderful training for the technical side of things and the process of making images on a daily basis. I chose to study an MA because I felt like I’d let the critical thinking part of my brain lapse a bit. Brighton just seemed like a good place to be with the amount of photo related activity that goes on here, and the tutors and technical staff have been fantastic.
Your work in general: I don’t think I could pin down my work very precisely at the moment. As an in-house photographer at an agency you’re often required to be a bit of a chameleon and adopt different styles for each job. The Striding Place was very experimental, and completely out of character for me, so right now I’m just trying to find a direction for my final project.
Superstition submission: I’d seen the Superstition competition on Twitter a few times before I realised I had a fitting body of work pretty much ready to go. It’s been a nice surprise, and quite hectic dealing with interview questions, etc. Winning something like this really forces you to have something to say about your work, I think often photography students have more trouble talking about their work than anything. I’m really happy to have won some prints from Spectrum, which will be a huge help with putting my final show together. My only advice for entering competitions is to be a bit savvy about the terms and conditions. Make sure you know what you’re getting in to, as there are a lot of disreputable rights-grabbing photo contests out there.