Sunday, May 03, 2020

Notes on Stephen Gill, photographer

I've been admiring Stephen Gill's photography since first seeing his work in The Guardian Weekend magazine in the early 2000s. Initially focusing on London's East End where he lived after moving from Bristol, Gill built up an experimental and conceptual body of work on all aspects of his chosen part of London, from its ponds and waterways to its markets and allotments, its themes ranging from cultural to environmental.

Like Alec Soth, who is everywhere all the time for no apparent reason (I'd never heard of him until a year ago, even though I recently found I'd had a photography book of his for years), Gill is keen on the idea of the photographic book, and self-publishes them through his company, Nobody Books.

In 2014 Gill moved to Sweden, where he spent over four years working on his book, The Pillar, which came out last year. Ostensibly a bird book, though possibly not one twitchers or professional nature photographers would approve of as such; the stunning photos were taken with a low-resolution motion sensor camera set up next to the titular pillar, a wooden post nearby to Gill's home in the wilds of Sweden. Capturing a variety of birds from a sparrow to an eagle, the birds often appear awkward and contorted yet somehow more natural than we're used to seeing them.

As Karl Ove KnausgÃ¥rd writes in The Pillar: "I’d never seen birds in this way before, as if on their own terms, as independent creatures with independent lives. Ancient, forever improvising, endlessly embroiled with the forces of nature, and yet indulging too. And so infinitely alien to us."

No comments :