John Heseltine was born in the UK but moved to New York in the late 1960s where he developed a deep fascination with photography. After his return to the UK in the late 1970s he completed an MA at University College, London followed by work in publishing before deciding to establish himself as an editorial photographer working for a range of books and magazines from the 1980s onwards. In 2005 The Getty Museum published 'Roads to Rome' which brought together several years of work made in Italy throughout his professional career. His work as been shown at les Rencontres d'Arles, the London Photography Open Salon, the Royal Photographic Society, as well as other galleries and festivals and resides in various private collections around Europe and the USA. He now lives in France.
contact: France (33) 06 38 21 17 42 UK (44) 07932 160664
about the work
For some years much of my personal work has sought to convey a sense of history, usually directed at specific places in time. This includes a fascination with revisiting places from my own past and examining the changes that have taken place, both in the objective world and in my individual perception of it. But as my long-term project “Paradiso” attempts to depict, places themselves change in some smaller or larger way but they nevertheless offer a broadly consistent backdrop to the never ending cast of multivarious charcters who continuously come and go as fleeting shadows flickering upon the world's stage.
Documenting the same place over an extended period of time is one of the most satisfying applications of photography and here I have assembled images of Paris produced intermittently over a 35 year period. The centre of the city still confers a great sense of warmth as well as a feeling of familiarity and in general it all seems to look very much as it did (excepting the latest redevelopment of Les Halles). But the act of revisiting the same location does make me wonder to what extent the place itself has changed or are as many of the changes within myself; does the sense of familiarity I now feel give me a clearer insight or does it conceal a truth that is only evident when a place is encountered for the first time ? One thing is certain, my memory may have been sullied but the buildings have definitely been cleaned.
... generations passing across the Italian stage, the backdrop remains more or less unchanged, faces alter, history and myth is continuously being re-written.
Like much of the developed world, France seems to many to be experiencing a sense of dislocation. The pace of change brought about by globalization, new technology and combined with the ravages wrought by the recent economic crisis means that the world seems less familiar, less certain than just a few years ago. It is against this background that this series of photographs has been formed.
Henry in Venice
In another time, another life, I followed him day and night, I squeezed the shutter as he stopped to stare, bewitched by the marble's exotic charm... "Italian Hours: Henry James' visions of Venice", by John Heseltine
Our feet are placed on solid (Italian) earth, or at least we like to think so. But earthquakes, erosion, floods and the hand of man conspire to threaten this apparent solidity as well as the history and mythology layered upon its varied surface.
Field of Dreams
It is striking how on the edges of towns and villages all over France fields are being transformed into housing developments. A field becomes a place where homes appear as quickly as nomads setting up camp so that residents can live, dream, propagate families and personalize their indoor and outdoor spaces in ever increasing numbers.
This essay refers to something felt rather than seen, so the images are approximations, interpretations, reflections of self and an inner process of questioning. This takes place within the context of an interior space which echoes this process of deliberation and possesses its own sense of mystery.
Roads to Rome
I have explored Italy over many years and have developed a fascination in how this country still seems to embody the very essence of history itself. My book, "Roads to Rome" is a visual exploration of modern Italy in the context of its ancient backdrop using the network of Roman roads as its structure. In his Foreword, the eminent curator Colin Ford wrote, "Heseltine's beautiful black and white shadows of the distant and recent past powerfully summon up the great Roman roads of Italy, the material with which they were built, and the mean and women who have used them - and continue to do so. In these pictures, ghosts really do come to life."
A Sinking Feeling
I have limited nostalgia for grimy streets and sub-standard housing, mean shops and low-life and much of my memory of London in the 1970s and 80s is coloured by a sense of shabbiness and hardness. The area around my old studio behind King's Cross Station had plenty of this grimness but it is now unrecognisable and I find myself lamenting the wholesale modernization of London ...
Lives of Others
"As dark shadowy outlines we stumble through an unrehearsed life, some with dear friends and family, but all of us alone. Just as previous occupants thought their time was forever, their world happened just once and is gone." John Heseltine, Lives of Others, 2011
prints & image licensing
A new website enables image licenses and prints to be purchased, visit www.heseltinearchive.com