Jack Allan

University: Middlesex University

Graduation: 2016

Genre: Suburban Landscape

Websitewww.jack-allan.com

Artist Statement: This collection is an investigation into the choices that are consciously made concerning plants. People have varying interactions with plants, be it for food or decoration, but the demand for controlling them is the common connection. With the inability to move, most of a plant’s life is dictated by the owner. Whether the subjects are pressed against glass or left out in the open, this collection intends to catalogue the methods people employ when keeping plants. The aim of this project, in particular, is to showcase lazy or totally mindless approaches, and the impressions left of the persons involved.

From the series The Anthropology of Plants

From the series The Anthropology of Plants

What are some standout moments from your time at university? Our Paris Photo trip in 2015 and probably getting drunk in the House of Commons with John Bercow, aka Mr Speaker for a fundraising launch. Quite strange to be inside those walls wobbly on champagne and fraternising with political folks. 

Which photographic genre do you consider your work to fall into? I think this work lies into the suburban landscape genre.

What themes do you find yourself exploring? I'm very interested in seeing the imprints that people either portray in the flesh or leave behind. With The Anthropology of Plants, I was amused by the excuses of greenery that some people gave the go ahead. It's quite a crass expression by myself as I'm no expert in landscaping or nice garden design, but I did find myself drawn to the more questionable of green spaces both private and council controlled.

From the series The Anthropology of Plants

From the series The Anthropology of Plants

What’s interesting to you about the ways in which plants are looked after? I find it interesting how in many cases there's usually little done to keep the plants happy and so they're just left to be. Even in well kept spaces, how the plants are allowed to grow and their constraints entertain me. It's sort of a very slow theatrical performance and these spaces act almost as a stage.

What do you hope for your images to tell your viewer about plants? What should they take away from your work? I guess to find humour in what I've photographed and for the viewer to begin to notice some of the questionable choices that are made with plant life. Greenery for the sake of it is all too commonplace.

From the series The Anthropology of Plants

From the series The Anthropology of Plants

Did any particular theoretical research influence your making of The Anthropology of Plants? Not a huge amount. The reasoning behind the title is because I'm looking at how people seem to interact with their choices in greenery. Like many aspects of people, this aspect just shows one dimension to them as a person. I think the most interesting research I came across was from Barnet Council simply stating that these choices are made just depending who has the job. If they're bad, they move on to another person to make decisions for street trees and communal spaces.

From the series The Anthropology of Plants

From the series The Anthropology of Plants

This series looks at careless and mindless approaches to greenery, but have you thought about showcasing areas that are pristine and well loved? After visiting many incredibly well kept stately homes and lovely gardens, I don't feel I could do them justice. I quite enjoy disappointing spaces for the sheer humour of it all. 

Do you think plants have their own identity which is influenced or sculpted by their owner? Absolutely. You can see in how people let them grow whether they're free to branch in every direction or confined to a pot and force themselves against glass. A happy rosebush shows care whereas a struggling succulent expresses a strong sense of neglect.

From the series The Anthropology of Plants

From the series The Anthropology of Plants

What was your choice of camera equipment for this series? I shot the on a Rolleiflex T cropping to a 5:4 ratio in post. It's also shot on a mixture of Kodak Portra 160 and Portra 400.

Can you tell us of any future plans you have regarding photography? I'm getting more into portraiture again, so I hope that this will develop further. I'm also assisting on a freelance basis to help me understand how the photographic world works better. I'd love to be involved with editorial portraiture eventually and to also build a healthy portfolio for later applying to the RCA. This is all up in the air, but a loose look ahead.