Photographer Review: Fergus Heron

Fergus Heron is a British Photographer who explores commonplace landscapes and architecture. If you are not in the photography industry, it is very likely that you will not know who he is. But Heron’s work provides some of the most thought provoking and visually rich representations of Britain to have emerged in recent years. Today, as well as being a talented Photographer, he is a senior lecturer in Photography at the University of Brighton. 

From photographing nature to shopping centres, conceptually, Heron is drawn to subjects that complicate simple distinctions between past, present and future. He has an absence of people throughout his work which emphasizes the importance of place. He is interested in asking questions about technology and the medium of photography through the images as much as he is interested in the visible world the work portrays. For example, the Charles Church Houses series is about houses in their environments where they appear strangely old and new at the same time. It is the same with the series, Shopping Centre, where the interiors in Herons images present architecture from classical antiquity to the postmodern, the images complicate a distinction between real and imaginary place. The viewer is invited to enter into an imaginative, strange and solitary experience with how the space can be encountered. 

Due to no human activity in his images being visible, it depicts how the space might be encountered. Heron says, “all my work makes visible our act of seeing, if not our actual bodies in the world; this always involves a social dimension.” To emphasise the act of seeing, Heron sets up a view camera that becomes a permanent apparatus and part of the place it represents during the exposure; it therefore slows the process of seeing. The camera he uses creates detailed, specific prints, which can then increase the duration of looking as well as critical thinking. He prints all of his own work and Heron says that printing broadens both the time of production and the reflection upon it.

When you view his creations, you can feel a sense of comfort within just one look of the photographs, due to how peaceful and tranquil they are. Visually, the way Heron can capture such beauty within urban and rural areas, makes you as the viewer, intrigued to see more. For example, his series Cawdor Common, A View from London is so detailed and structured by humanly made elements. The correspondence between these photographs involves consistent visual formation that bring together different content and potential meanings. There is not usually a feeling of an event taking place in the work, it is acknowledging more on what might happen that is interesting to him. Fergus says, “I aim to make work with a sense of suspended time and intensified stillness that emphasizes its own photographic qualities.” The relationship of humans and nature plays a big part in our everyday lives as it is a cycle of living and Heron is interested in documenting this. 

Heron’s work in nature inspires my own practice within landscapes, exploring how a space can be encountered with the act of seeing. I find myself drawn to his ‘flat’ style, which doesn’t have any specific composition. His way of working has now come across in my own practice, creating something that is objective. Heron’s imagery is as impressive as it is profoundly affecting. Even though they are visually simple and flat, the meaning behind the pictures, brings a certain essence to mind with the way he thinks. He opens your mind to different perspectives on common places in our everyday life. His work has touched the hearts of a lot of creative people within the industry, but I feel it should be felt and seen by the world. 

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