University: University of Sunderland
Artist Statement: Full Circle explores caravan sites and the personality of the residents' outside spaces. The images are stylistic and follow the theory of ‘the something and the nothing’ picking out visually appealing yet banal subject matter. The project aims to open the audiences perception of this closed community and the spaces can easily be related to, and often mirror the traditional English garden. It was crucial that I approached the sites objectively as I didn't want to cast any negativity over the residents lifestyle and environment. The writing that goes beside Full Circle was important to give the images context, it’s written in prose and is a playful way of describing the imagery.
A downsized, closed community where ‘mobile’ homes are stabilized
and a domestic environment is created; curtains twitch, a robust
neighbourhood watch scheme is in place. Nothing goes a miss.
The homeowners are immaculately proud ensuring their ornaments
are pristinely placed upon the windowsill and their curtains are neatly pressed,
the garden becomes their pride and joy as they self-consciously obsess;
creating a contest between their neighbours as to whose garden is best.
Hanging oversized flower baskets and littering the lawn with garden gnomes,
a persistent game of one-upmanship continues to go on.
An elderly gentleman tells a tale of the ornaments coming alive once
the clock strikes twelve, whilst his wife sweeps the autumn leaves,
shaking her head in despair.
A one way, tarmacked looped road forms a map around the site, beyond this;
void space ties together the inhabited plots, creating an environment compact
with the something and the nothing.
What are some standout moments from your time at university? There’s many, however visiting New York and going to galleries in Chelsea, receiving compliments at my degree show from photographers that influence me and working with Sarah Pickering, BBC Newcastle and NEPN are the ones that standout.
Which photographic genre do you consider your work to fall into, and what themes do you find yourself exploring? I think it’s quite difficult to put yourself in a ‘genre silo’, however I often find that my work is topographical, generally looking at social landscape and environments.
What were your reasons for making Full Circle? I made this work for a self-negotiated project at university, I was living in a village close to a residential caravan site and a family friend had recently moved to one for 6 months of the year. I found this was becoming a lot more popular and similar themes had recently been documented on TV, I liked the idea of exploring this way of living without exploiting the residents.
What draws you to gardens, what do you enjoy most about them? I loved the personality of the spaces, I originally planned to photograph the caravan interiors, but I found it easier to relate and spend time in the gardens.
Why have you decided to exploit these gardens in particular? Do they bring something unique to the viewer? The gardens within the images really explored the idea of ‘the something and the nothing’, I guess they all had elements that were somewhat unusual. It was interesting to look at each space and the personality it had. I often described the sites as suburbia and there seemed to be a competitive game of ‘keeping up with the Jones’ going on.
Did you have any visual or theoretical influences who really inspired you when creating this body of work? The primary influences were Julian Germain, specifically For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness, John Hinde’s postcard collection and Susan Lipper Bed and Breakfast. I loved the process of researching for a project at university so the list could go on but unfortunately my sketchbooks are in storage.
Is there a particular time of day, or certain weather conditions, that you like to work in? For Full Circle I shot in daylight, the specific time didn’t matter. I wouldn’t shoot in bad weather, however I remember having a discussion about shooting on overcast days for this project, I didn’t want the subject to seem negative, so I choose not to let the weather conditions dictate.
Can you tell us about your ongoing project Changing Rooms? What can we expect to see in the finished body of work? Changing Rooms explores social environments, and it’s important that the audience can relate with the space and reflect on past experiences. I’m interested in bringing out memories of adolescence within the spaces, I think some people have really positive memories such as celebrating their first football win and others have negative memories of embarrassment and bullying.
Can you pinpoint the moment you became interested in photography? If so, can you tell us about it? I’ve always enjoyed art and I did an Art & Design BTEC and a Photography A-Level at college. I started out with fashion photography, I designed a 1960’s dress with paper and paperclips for a stage show and asked a friend to model it in the studio and fell in love with the images I took. I quickly moved on to documentary and became quickly immersed in exploring social themes.
Are there any projects, new or old, you wish to develop? I’m still developing Changing Rooms, I’m happy with the imagery but I really need to pin down the concept and write an artist statement. I’m constantly thinking of new projects and ideas and I’ve been wanting to exhibit Full Circle for a while, I think that the exhibition space is really important for this series, so I’m looking at potential locations.
What do you hope to achieve in 2016? My main achievement is to show Changing Rooms in a group exhibition at New Bridge Project in Newcastle. I don’t work full-time on my photographic practice so any other showings (exhibition, print, online) of my work would be an achievement.