We meet Blackpool born and bred photographer Henry Iddon to find out about his life behind the camera; chatting about portraits, Hill People and the Golden Mile.
q. Hello Henry! Can you tell us a bit about how you work and your processes?
a. I guess the main thing with major projects is the background research to help inform an idea. So for ‘Hill People’, portraits of those using the Lake District fells for recreation, I read a lot of academic papers about dress and identity, ‘A Place to Go’ about poignant mountain landscapes I read various PhD papers about memorial sites, as well as Simon Schama’s 900 page ‘Landscape and Memory’, during my Leftcoast residency at Forton services I read the two books about the history of British motorway services. It’s a way of really understanding an area that I’m looking at, and that knowledge can then be used to help generate ideas or inform the work. More general work is just about getting close to a subject and getting as much as possible from any situation, thinking you can get a shot later or tomorrow is a risky thing. It’s important to not let opportunities slip past.
q. What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio/practice?
a. Obviously as primarily a photographer I need some type of camera. Following on from the previous question, I’d say I need the ability to research, and maybe as a spin off from that the time to mull things over.
q. What does your work aim to say? Does it comment on current social or political issues?
a. don’t think my work is particularly political, it’s more an investigation by me in to something, reflecting a curiosity. I’m not that bothered about doing something that’s already been done ( although I appreciate most things have been !!! ) I like to join the dots, or find  a new reason for looking at something , that maybe contains different layers.
q. What memorable responses have you had to your work?
a. I took an image for my ‘A Place to Go’ series about poignant mountain landscapes, sites of fatalities in the British mountains. Elements of it have been exhibited in various places. I got an email out of the blue from a lady who’s Grandmother was the only survivor of the incident near Ben Alder in Scotland in 1951. She’d heard bits of the story from her Grandmother but had never actually seen the landscape where it happened – which is what my image shows and it had helped fill gaps in for the lady with regards to her family history.
Henry Iddon Photographer - DJ Kool Herc Blue Nightclub Blackpool 7th October 2000
Henry Iddon Photographer - DJ Kool Herc Blue Nightclub Blackpool 7th October 2000
Henry Iddon Photographer - Ulsge Labhair Ben Alder, Scotland 2012
Buachaille Etive Mor, Glencoe, 1st November 2015
Henry Iddon - Photographer Hill Walker Scafell with Can 2009
q. Who are your biggest influences?
a. I finished my Photography MA in 1999 and undoubtedly Paul Hill and Greg Lucas who ran the course influenced my approach and practice. Regards other photographers, I have a real empathy for the work of Harry Callahan and Ray Moore. Vanessa Winships ’She Dances on Jackson’  is a wonderful body of work. I also enjoy sculpture and contemporary dance, the broader your interest the better I think. There are some great contemporary poets out there – who distil things down to a few words, much like photography can distil.
q. What is your dream project?
a. I’ve always wanted to do a project around sites of international armed conflict in the worlds mountain ranges. So travelling around the world shooting that would be an adventure !
q. Do you think that Blackpool provides a decent creative environment for artists?
a. To an extent yes – certainly for performance art / events – with an audience of visitors.  There are some amazing spaces and arts community. Things have improved hugely over the last 25 years, the Grundy has changed for the better over the past 20 odd years, and things like the sculptures and The Comedy Carpet put art in public spaces. It’s always difficult to get people into traditional spaces, no doubt Leftcoast has reached out to new audiences and helped local artists. It’s easy to be critical, but without Leftcoast I do think the local arts scene would be far worse off.

q. Should art be funded?
a. Yes

 

q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
a. Don’t try to do for a living what people do for a hobby !!!

q. What jobs have you had other than being an artist?

a. Shop Assistant, Briefly Casual Admin Assistant in Civil Service, Lab Technician in a photo lab.

q. How has lockdown affected you and your work?

a. Lockdown has been a chance to take a long look and slowly document the effects on Blackpool, thinks have changed regularly so it’s been important to keep shooting and documenting the familiar as it became strange and unfamiliar, as I cycle regularly I was able to get about and shoot the Fylde in general, also having a Press Pass permitted me to be out and about. I also took the opportunity to look at Blackpool’s hinterland and walk some of the paths and trails that surround Blackpool and look at some of the local history – which has the working title ‘Golden Miles’ and is sort of a side project side project !

But lockdown isn’t easy, everyone has felt lost and lonely to some degree. This has been amplified by change in my personal circumstance beyond my control. Photographing lockdown has kept me busy and to some extent given me something to focus on, including a micro commission from Leftcoast and working with three other photographers with Grundy Art Gallery on the series #worktownghosttown. Like most people I’m anxious about what the future holds.   
Henry Iddon Photographer Blackpool South Beach Promenade. 11th April 2020 2.35pm (Easter Sunday)
Henry Iddon Photographer - Couple at Bus Stop. Corporation Street. Blackpool. 11th May 2020

About Henry

Henry Iddon has spent most of his life living in Blackpool, apart from brief stints as a photo lab technician at Warrens Photo Lab in Leeds, and at the Motor Industry Research Association near Nuneaton. He studied Photographic Laboratory Management at Blackpool and Fylde College and an MA Photography at De Montford University, Leicester.

He always wanted to be a photographer and has shot for a range of commercial clients including regularly with BBC World News in London, as a central government supply through Department of Education, and everything else from pizza factories to members of the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace to well known bands and musicians.
Shooting Blackpool since the early 1980’s and developing the shots in a bathroom darkroom, through to shooting the punk festival, and Blackpool nightlife.   

His photographic and lens based practice concerns finding new ways, and reasons, to look at the landscape. While remaining accessible to all, and relevant to the discourse that is contemporary art and culture. He aims to produce work that is multi-layered and that can educate and inform audiences. 

His work has been mediated through traditional film techniques across all formats 10x12inch and 4×5 large format; medium format roll film and 35mm; digital stills and film / video moving image capture. Work has been disseminated via wall hung exhibitions, installations and workshops, book works, news print publications, online and through film screenings.

His self motivated work has been shown in exhibitions at such galleries as  Centoequatro,  Belo Horizonte, Brazil; Forum Brixen, Brixen/Bressanone (Italy); Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool;  The Photographers Gallery, London; Turner Contemporary, Margate;  Stills Gallery, Edinburgh; Oxo Tower, London; Three White Walls Gallery, Birmingham and Turton Tower, Bolton.

Henry has received Arts Council funding and has been nominated for the National Media Museum Bursary Award, shortlisted for the And/or Book Awards as well as the Foto8 Best in Show Award. His work is  held in collections by ; Kraszna-Krausz Collection, National Media Museum, UK; The North West Film Archive, Manchester Metropolitan University; Scottish National Screen Archive; George Eastman House, Rochester, USA; State Library of New South Wales, Australia; Banff Centre for Mountain Culture, Canada; Centre for Contemporary Photography, University of Arizona, USA; Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere.

Find out more about Henrys work here https://www.henryiddon.com/

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