University: Cambridge School of Art
Genre: Conceptual Art
Artist Statement: Working professionally as a fashion and product photographer based in London, UK, Jamie's artistic practice presents responses to man and self-altered spaces, using methods borrowed from commercial photography, online and tech culture, architecture and set-design and other various photographic genres - often using digital manipulation techniques to create subverted and constructed realities of his own.
Focusing on notions of object and place, ownership and the 'future idealised' space, he presents us with photographs that question where the boundaries of image making, commercial photography and fine art, lie - always asking questions of the medium itself, its limitations, power and allure.
Having completed his MA in Photography at the Cambridge School of Art in 2016, Jamie has exhibited in London, UK and nationwide and has been featured in various online and print publications.
Where did you attend University and what year did you graduate? I graduated from Cambridge School of Art (ARU) in 2016 with an MA in Photography.
What are some standout moments from your time at university? In the first year of my MA, we ran a collaborative symposium with MA students at The Academy of Art and Design St Joost in Breda, in the Netherlands. While in Breda, we presented our work to the students there and they shared their techniques and practices with us. The experience was both inspiring and educational for me and helped me take my own work in a more conceptually driven direction.
During my time at CSA I also had the opportunity to attend guest lectures from professional artists and photographers. One stand out talk was given by commercial and fine art photographer Hannah Starkey, whose discussion on the balance between making art and producing commercial work was particularly relevant to my own practice.
Which photographic genre do you consider your work fall into? In general I consider my work to come under the genre of conceptual art, however within this I often use techniques and practices associated with a variety of other photographic styles, such as landscape, commercial still life, installation and set design.
What themes do you find yourself exploring? At the beginning of my MA, my work surrounded the idea of newly constructed spaces and how we interact and relate to them, as well as how these yet to be developed spaces are sold to us as commodities. As my practice has developed I have continued to explore features of non-places and this has progressed into the creation of subverted and constructed realities within my image making. A major part of my work is building, manipulating and altering these spaces to discuss ideas of object, ownership and the future idealised space, whether that be in the virtual or physical world.
What’s one vital thing you learnt at university that you think will always stick with you? University provides you with a great opportunity to take time to try out new ideas and develop concepts. Since graduating and working as a fashion photographer, I realise how valuable this time was. Working to tight deadlines and commercial standards is a world apart from spending months on a concept at university, and more and more I understand that the time given to me there to grow and tease out new ideas was invaluable.
Did you study for a B.A. in photography? What pushed you to then complete an MA? I completed a HND in Photography in 2009 after which I spent some years jumping from one photography job to another. Prior to my MA I worked as a field photographer for a property developer, which allowed me access to hundreds of new spaces under construction. After the job was finished I realised I wanted to develop my own body of work and progress in more of a creative space which lead me to apply to study at CSA.
How did this series come to the surface? What initially inspired you? This specific project is a product of two years development that began when I started exploring new home construction sites at night with my camera. These late-night expeditions to these spaces, in their sterile and empty nature and the juxtaposition of this feeling with the warmth and promise of their advertising campaigns inspired me to develop the series further. This was also a natural continuation of a series of portraits I took of new-build homeowners for my first MA project.
Initially I photographed objects I found at the sites and the hoardings that surrounded them and eventually, with greater access, I was able to visit the sites in the daytime and to enter the partially constructed homes themselves. All the while I was aware of my personal interruption of the space as a photographer, which led me to bring the project inside the studio where I could construct and create my own ‘future idealised space’ to be photographed and presented alongside the location images.
Have you had the opportunity to exhibit this work? If not how would you like to? In October 2016 I exhibited this work in part, at the Photoblock London event within the Photomasters exhibition. This exhibition showcases the work of selected current MA students and recent graduates.
Given the opportunity, I would like to show this work in it’s entirety and in an ‘ideal world’, within a show-home style installation.
Tell us about your mentorship with Metro Imaging. I was selected for a Mentorship with Metro Imaging after my work was shown alongside other students from the Cambridge School of Art. This year-long mentorship granted me access to their printing and framing facilities as well as advice and guidance from various members of their team. At the end of the mentorship, Metro provided me with the prints for the Photoblock event, which was a huge help!
Why did you decide to build some sets in the studio? Did you take inspiration from the partially constructed homes? Through out my time spent on location and also researching developers websites and imagery I was constantly aware of the fact the spaces were being sold to consumers as completed visions, with CGI imagery and bold statements filling in the gaps that the physical empty spaces could not fill as a product. I then found myself trying to fill in those gaps photographically. I would move elements in the room to create and more aesthetically pleasing frame and leave my grey card or colour checker in shot as nod to the photographic process and the construction this entails. I also begin to manipulate the rooms or landscapes digitally by adding in walls or gradient skies - in a similar way to the developers creating their fully realised CGI adverting images. The next logical step for me, not having any highly technical computer aided design skills was to try to build the room sets myself and see where that would take me.
Have you ever been back on location to see one of these houses as a finished product, fully furnished? I have not been inside any of the newly completed houses although have been back to many sites which are now fully functioning estates. Interestingly an earlier project I worked on was a set of 6 portraits of subjects within their brand new houses, so in a way I have worked backwards from that point.
Name some photographers who inspired you when making this work. I was inspired by the work of Edgar Martins and Josef Shulz throughout this project and further. Both of their work deals with anonymous spaces and has influenced me hugely.