No blood, no bodies, just silence and a heavy lingering memory that haunts this part of Picardy where my grandfather was killed in the last days of the 1914-18 war. These images chronicle my walks tracing the movements of his battalion as they edged towards their doom.
Perhaps it is in vain that I seek some visual equivalents to the severe tinnitus I suffer, but how do you photograph the sound of wind, the hollow interior scream that steals the beauty of silence, a constant hum that lulls me to an uneasy sleep, the private shrill chorus that confuses all other sound ? Yet there are things that I find somehow approximate in some unutterable way, but if I say the words all correspondence is immediately lost and so I turn to images.
... generations passing across the Italian stage, the backdrop remains more or less unchanged, faces alter, history and myth is continuously being re-written...
This project takes its title from a bathing establishment at Viareggio on the Tuscany coast as well as Dante’s 14th century allegorical work, the Divine Comedy. It also refers to the notion of Italy being a terrestrial paradise as it has frequently been depicted through centuries of literature and art. One that portrays Italy as the living embodiment of history, even the physical manifestation of time itself.
I was delighted to exhibit and speak about this series at the Foto Open Festival at Bielsko-Biała, Poland, in October 2017
What began as an exploration of the geographical and metaphysical centre of France has developed into examining the rapid pace of change that this country is experiencing both in terms of the built environment and the spaces housed within. 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. This is not a wistful, nostalgic glance backwards, nor a sense of horror at what France is becoming, but a series of observations over time that bear witness to the old being eclipsed by the new, an emotional response to the distinct fabric of French culture, its symbols, its sense of design and colour as well as its distinctive regional variation. The photographs attempt to unpeel shards of time and highlight mundane details, illuminating the spaces in between, sometimes looking at virtually nothing, just framing and re-sequencing the prosaic facets of everyday surroundings.
I don't try to reveal the inner beauty of things, but more an inner mystery inherent in everything around us when viewed at close range with a dispassionate eye. And a familiarity that I feel when confronted with an object reflecting and absorbing light, a resonance and a strange catalyst that stirs up a range of disparate past experiences and is not always possible to express in words.
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" (2008)
The American writer Henry James visited Venice, "the repository of consolations" in 1869 when he discovered Italy for the first time, 'the most beautiful country in the world - of a beauty so far beyond any other that none other is worth talking about'. In his observations of the city collected in the 1908 publication of 'Italian Hours' James recorded a wealth of description, some effusive with the passion he felt for La Serenissima, but some tainted with offences to his sensibilities, such as the tourists ('hoards of barbarians') or just the poverty and decay he frequently encountered. Throughout these essays one feels his stern gaze critically analysing the city's reluctant acceptance of mass tourism, and, born in 1843, shortly after the first experiments with the permanent photograph, his observations could be seen to share much in common with the point of view of the cynical street photographer using a camera as the extension of his eye and prowling in search of the 'decisive moment'.
"I turn my gaze inward, I fix it there and keep it busy. Everyone looks in front of him; as for me , I look inside me; I have no business but with myself..." Montaigne.
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. In the Foreword to my book, "Roads to Rome" 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."