Photography is a disarmingly subtle act of sensing, then waiting, until a subject reveals itself. It is my chosen medium because of its capacity to intensify what we see, and to capture the unique truths that lie beneath the surface of our encounters. This enduring and patient economy of means channels our shared, multivalent sense of wonder at being present in the world.
This exhibition has offered me the daunting but welcome opportunity to think deeply about the bodily experience of photography. I create material photographs, and my full discovery of the colouration and character of each photograph happens in the darkroom. Each of the fourteen gallery spaces here at Huis Marseille has its own character. My aim has been to create a photographic experience in synergy with the architectural setting, and in anticipation of your engagement with the works. There are moments of intimacy, simplicity, and intensity in this exhibition that, without being overtly instructive, mirror the experiences that I’ve had through photography.
The series Preston Bus Station constitutes the architectural and narrative heart of Landscape with Tree, my first fully realized photographic work. It is set in Preston, the Northern English city where I discovered and studied photography. This portrayal of the people passing through the bus station became a blueprint for my photographic practice: it is where I learned about light, and the patience of waiting for an encounter to unfold. It is where I learned how to approach strangers and capture the details of beauty that drew me to them. I began to appreciate the essential and alchemical possibilities of photography to translate and fix the chance-sent and the fleeting.
My interactions with fashion are included in this exhibition as part of my path in photography. It is through luck and happenstance that my visual approach found a place in this creative industry, with its fast pace and ever-changing predilections. Fashion has been a rich space for me because it hinges on collaboration and offers broad photographic possibilities, in part due to the intensity of commercial shoots. Through fashion photography, I became comfortable engaging with unfamiliar people and places. With each commissioned encounter— each a visual challenge in itself — I aimed to capture the specific, imperfect, and human vitality of the collaborative moment for the pages of magazines.
In Landscape with Tree I can see the spectrum of experiences that I have sought out with my camera over the past ten years, and the places my curiosity has taken me. The exhibition manifests my sustained and transitory intimacies, planned and unexpected journeys, and wonderful immersions. I hope I have created an exhibition environment in which you can experience — perhaps even beyond the restraints of body, place, and time — an encounter with photography and its sublime potential to take us anywhere our imagination desires. — Jamie Hawkesworth
Images courtesy Huis Marseille.