The four British based artists that form AION all work in different styles and approaches but are drawn to exploring new worlds that often seem just out of reach.
Despite having individual approaches and interests that drive and inspire their work, the collective are united by their passion for creating long term, heavily researched projects. Often producing imagery derived from meditative moments of observation, their focus is always to make photographs that play with narrative and uncover new ways of seeing.
Collectively, the works on show lead us to question the notion that one person’s utopian vision is another’s dystopia – for one version to thrive, another version must perish. Collectively, these four artists explore the space between exclusion and inclusion, competition and equality, journey and destination.
The Blindest Man
The Blindest Man is based on the real story of an unsolved treasure hunt, and is a reflection on the act of searching, and what happens when you can't find the answers you are looking for. I’m interested in the notion of the treasure hunt as metaphor, and in turn, the search as a reflection of the photographic pursuit; the tensions between the promise of truth and the delivered partiality.
The book was published by VOID in June 2022.
We are the stories we tell.
I began to make this work as I am terrified of time running out. My age passes and with each year brings a sense of despair, anxiety, and disbelief. It is not just the social constructs of milestone expectations that suffocate me. Not the demise of my fertility or my financial security but a greater responsibility of what I have contributed by living on earth. I find solace in remembering that what we leave behind are the stories we tell.
The reproductive nature of storytelling brings hope. Perhaps this is what led me to create imagery from myths and folklore that have stood the test of time. The ones that pass-through generations and establish themselves as the foundations of tradition.
By immersing myself in each region and culture I visit for this project I bring an alternative account, one separated from the tales so embedded within the place. My curiosity and naivety bring a fresh approach to myths and anecdotes and helps us experience them as reborn stories that I hope will live on.
Stories we can feel, learn from, and inspire us to reflect on how we each have a beautiful story to tell.
Following on from my work in Romania (Chapter 1- Youth without age, life without death), I am embarking on the next chapter, this time in the Dübener Heide forest in North east Germany.
This work is inspired by multiple tales from the region; mixing fiction and reality to paint scenes that evoke nostalgia and emotion.
Since the onset of this project my aim has been to detach with technology and focus on being present and reflective. I switched to a basic mobile phone in Romania eight years ago, and I have kept this tradition sacred. I am noticing that the process is more essential than ever. It is only when I separate myself from the daily distractions of apps, tasks and entertainment that my creativity flourishes and my childish imagination surfaces.
Don't Push Me 'Cause I'm Close To The Edge
Don't push me 'cause I'm close to the edge
I'm trying not to lose my head
It's like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from going under
I nodded gently, in agreement, realising then that things were not going to change themselves. Perhaps it was time to revisit the familiar, to get back on the road, to chase that elusive thrill of a stranger-meeting. So I headed for the edges, the edges of everything – familiar edges, and strange edges – a journey around the coast that hems us in, a formidable barrier, a strip of possibility.
As an island nation, the coast is more than a physical boundary. It’s a psychological space, and identity. Our 7723 miles of edge keeping us in, and as the news continuously reminds us, others out. Brexit. Desperation in rubber dinghies. And then, Covid-19.
The coast is the meeting point for all of us, the end of the road, a melding of all that is British, into a sense of ubiquity. North, South, East, West. There is a similarity in all corners, more of a sense of collective identity than anywhere else. Each seaside town is an amalgamation of tastes arising from the tumbleweed arriving there from every corner. For so long, these peripheral areas have felt stuck in a kind of languishing stasis, at odds with progress. In the pandemic, these locations took on a new potency – they were the accidental winners. A tide turning visibly as once-derided B&Bs filled to capacity. Puffy wallpaper, greasy Richmond sausages, and budget white kettles infused with a new sense of life, as we swapped cheap flights for road trips, and rediscovered parochial charm.
The sporadic sounds of 2p coins falling off the ledge and clattering into the chute below; the dull, hollow, thud of the slot machine’s buttons; the electronic bleeps as the grab arm gently caresses the soft-toys that you’ve wasted a fiver on, and predictably not winning; the trundle of the slush puppy machine, and the hum of the Mr Whippy machine struggling against the heat of the British summer. Simple pleasures, predictable, unwavering.
In a sea of uncertainty, there is comfort in old favourites. "This is the coastal town / That they forgot to close down / Armageddon, come Armageddon! / Come, Armageddon! Come!"
This work is about local communities, and the independent pubs that sit at their heart. As a departure from working in remote and isolated places around the world, this has been driven by the desire to produce work on my doorstep. Sometimes that which is familiar, is more difficult to see – this has been a way of experiencing these eclectic spaces with a renewed appreciation.
These pubs are hubs of community, and sometimes more – a sense of home. It may be a stretch to call these “utopian”, or some may say it’s not.
Pubtown is inspired by ‘The Pub And The People’, a book by Mass Observation, a 1930s social study of an anonymous northern British town. The study observed and recorded people’s behaviour and pub culture, at a time when anthropological studies were heavily focussed on people living in distant and exotic lands. The images here are from Bath, famed for it’s hot water springs attracting people to find an escape, but here we find a different type of watering hole.
10-14 Waterloo Place, Brighton