University: University of Huddersfield
Artist Statement: The Colonie Marine of Italy were built as children’s seaside summer camps - mostly on the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian coasts. Their original purpose was to improve the health of city children for whom scrofula - a form of tuberculosis - was a common ailment. For several weeks during the summer, such children could stay and enjoy the benefits of exercise, good nutrition, medical attention, and sunshine and sea air.
In the 1920s Benito Mussolini’s National Fascist Party encouraged the construction of large camps designed in the rationalist style - an Italian brand of modernism - to enhance his vision of the future. Mussolini saw an opportunity for the mass cultivation of Balilla and Piccole Italiane (young fascist boys and girls), instilled with discipline, the importance of physical fitness and a willingness to die for the cause. After the fall of fascism most of the camps were abandoned, perhaps indelibly tainted by their ideological associations.
What are some standout moments from your time at university? Being given challenging assignments and receiving feedback allowing me to see my mistakes and also to keep pushing my work to the next level. Time spent with my classmates and our group trip to Paris Photo.
What themes do you find yourself exploring? Urban fringes and wasteland - the so called edgelands. Built spaces and landscapes.
Can you tell us about some photographers who visually influence your work? Stephen Shore, William Eggleston, Todd Hido, and Alec Soth.
What are you hoping to achieve in the future? I am studying for an MA in Digital Media next year.
In the longer term I want to continue to develop my style of photography, I hope to be offered opportunities for collaboration, exhibitions and to produce books.
What encouraged you to focus in and photograph small areas of The Colonie Marine? My first shoots looked very much like those of any urban explorer and I wanted my work to really tap into the spirit and atmosphere of these places - to say a lot more than ‘I was here’.
I gave myself time to stay in a space and to allow the places to reveal themselves rather than me actively seeking out the shots. I started to notice the small utilitarian details - switches, lights, handles, fittings which became worthy of photographing as objects in their own right and this led to my final project.
What encouraged you to continue your studies after your BA in photography at Huddersfield University? Primarily the feeling that I had only just begun to understand photography and a desire to continue studying. I feel that I have made a good choice in joining the MA course at Huddersfield.
What initially drew you to Colonie Marine to make a series of work? Literally a chance encounter, curiosity and an open door when I was walking along a stretch of the Italian coast. Once over the threshold I found myself in a space that invited further and in-depth exploration and research.
Did you refer back to any photographic theory when making this work? I actually did the opposite and tried to turn away from standard notions of architectural photography in order to produce something different. That said, I love the work of Stephen Shore, William Eggleston, Todd Hido, and Peter Fraser to name a few, and can't help but be influenced and inspired by their work and vision.
What do you hope for your images to portray about these Italian camps? Small details that speak of their past, echoes of those who passed through their doors, a sense of silence and decay.
Describe how you exhibited this body of work. I produced a book as my main work, accompanied by a few selected images on the wall of the graduate show. A selection of my images are also being shown in China.
Have you got any future aims for this specific series? Having left it alone for a little while I would like to revisit the work in the light of feedback and portfolio reviews - working to establish a clearer context and framework with reference to the actual buildings and leading the viewer through the spaces.
What will your MA in Digital Media entail? Will you be able to incorporate your photographic work into your studies? I will base my MA around photography while recognising the importance of establishing a clear and appropriate research methodology at postgraduate level. My current plan will be centred around Rome; looking into the effects of fascism on the city's streets and architecture with particular reference to monuments and memorials.