Rory’s time on a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design course helped him get to grips with curating exhibitions and developing his work as a photographer and fine artist.
We flashback to our chat during his first year on BA (Hons) Photography.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m from London, I grew up in Greenwich, South London and got into photography at school. I would say I’m an outgoing, on location, flexible photographer.
When did you realise you wanted to do something creative?
The turning point for me was definitely whilst doing A-level Photography at secondary school and initial thinking about completing a UCAS application. Photography felt right for me as I wanted to develop and learn about many different aspects of the photographic medium in a more sophisticated way. I also, at the time, didn’t have any other major interests that I could pick up at higher education. I decided to follow my love for the photographic and see where I ended up. I don’t think many A-level students know where they want to be in life at that age!
How would you describe you and your work?
I’m keen to explore the environment around me and develop my ideas. I would describe my work as conceptual, documentary, landscape and sometimes experimental.
Did you know from the start what kind of artist/ designer you wanted to be?
I had no idea! I had always had an interest in the photographic from a younger age, occasionally snapping away on family holidays and being brought up around lots of video and images of myself from key moments; throughout GCSEs and A-level study I had no idea of what I was going to progress to do.
Initially, I thought I may study geography, always being interested in the environment and it’s natural processes; however, I began to decide on photography whilst studying it at A-level and developing my practice in my free time. Enrolling onto a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design exposed me to different pathway options, allowed me more thinking time as to where I wanted to head next and allowed my photographic practice to develop in more experimental ways which I never thought I would create.
What inspires you?
I have two major sources of inspiration at the moment, which came from recent contextual studies lectures. I was introduced to many Japanese photographers who contributed to a magazine called Provoke (1968 – 1970). It was an experimental small press magazine which aimed to, “free photography from subservience to the language of words” and which, “stood in opposition to the photography establishment.” Getting to know this type of work has helped me explore the potential and limits of photography to portray public space (our streets, and environment). It also inspired me to create a book on the subject.
Another obsession and key inspiration of mine is ‘The New Topographics’ exhibition, which took place New York in 1975 – 76. This exhibition considered the intriguing relationship between man and nature. It significantly influenced photographic practice. The exhibition documented how industry and the spread of cities were intruding on and altering landscapes.
Both of these artists work have showed me how to go beyond the norms that we associate with photography. They have helped me to consider my own practice and how to interrogate the medium more thoroughly.
What’s the best thing you’ve done so far?
A work I’m most proud of would have to be a piece titled ‘Homage to Nothing’, which was a part of my Foundation Final Show ‘Intro/Outro’ in April 2015. Creating this work took me completely out of my comfort zone, developing something which was more fine art and sound art based. It involved more conceptual and theoretical ideas.
The piece was sound art, musical translation of a lecture given by writer, American composer, music theorist, and artist John Cage titled ‘Lecture on Nothing’. This lecture was part of a talk that Cage had given along with ‘Lecture on Something’ at the Artists Club in New York in 1950. Cage’s lecture is notable for being structured as a piece of music demonstrating his poetic and witty style of composing. The text is still relevant sixty years after its performance and publication. Both lectures were published in his collected writings entitled ‘Silence’. All of these lectures were rarely performed.
It felt amazing to be part of my first exhibition and to really consider all of the decisions you do have to make when curating a space and working with others to make sure that everything ends up going to plan. The project was mostly successful but there’s certainly things that I managed to learn from the experience.
Research The New Topographics on the Tate website
Read Dazed Digital’s article on Provoke magazine
Find out more about the course Rory is studying: