I met and spoke with Andrew Sewell at the Arles Festival 2019. The above two images were part of the Home Sweet Home exhibition. He described his work as looking for things you don’t normally see in ordinary situations. By looking more he sees deeper relationships and eventually creates an image..
I met him before seeing his images. When I first encountered them I had two reactions. The first was why is this a new young talent? He ‘has been described by Martin Parr as a bright new talent likely to make his mark on the future of photography.’ source The second was this does represent an English home very well. I recognise so much. A kitchen owned by someone with their view to the outside world through their window. The personality and character of the owner somehow present in the articles in the image. There is a statement about England here.
My second reaction stayed with me and got me asking questions about these images. Before the MA I might have said I don’t get it. Now as I look at the image I do build on my second reaction. There is a nascent project in my mind called ‘Gone in 50 years – La Xara’ which is a Spanish village near where I live. The images that attract me are the local supermarket which still has check out tills and a fish counter with an experienced and knowledgable fishmonger. Similarly the local baker and the local hardware stall. Andrew’s work inspires me to explore this theme and look deeper to capture what will not be there very soon.
Christopher Howse in the Telegraph reports ‘For months, Andy Sewell takes his time looking before he lets his camera collect an image. A kitchen window through the seasons, is a frame, like the orbit of the eye. Inside, the light gives a glow to the washing–up liquid and the Pimm’s bottle; outside the trailing roses wave in the breeze and birds hop about selfcontainedly. The sky brings fresh supplies of variable cloud, from the west mostly.’ source
His photography has now captured my attention. I am sure that to most of my normal friends these images are like offering michelin star food to people who love fish and chips at the local frier. I was normal before starting the MA.
Here is the question that interests me also. How important is it that Andy Sewell took this image? Is it important for the context and rhetoric of this image because it is wrapped up in Andy Sewell because of how he is now regarded? I showed the image to someone in the industry who had not seen it. Just asked what do you think? Instagram image she said after a cursory glance. When I said it is Andy Sewell she then paid attention and wanted to know more about who he was.
To finish this piece I include two of my own window images taken last week in Chateau la Coste. As a photographer I believe they are worth presenting. To me they say a lot. If I take Andy Sewell’s advice it is for the viewer to form their own opinion of what is presented to them. I do not think it is that simple. For these works to have any value in the photography world I will need to develop a narrative that goes with my work. Only then can images like this have currency and be considered significant. On that there is more work to do but a fascinating path to explore.