I know a musician who once told me when he goes to a new city he is very aware of how it sounds. He says each city sounds very different. I am quite sure this sensitivity is linked to his chosen occupation. No outrageous connection there. Traditionally photographers show us what a city looks like. This makes sense too. But Stephen Gill, Hackney based photographer, says he wants to include as much as he can of what a place feels like. Gill therefore "started collecting little bits of stuff from actual places, and then putting them inside the camera. Bits of plant life, seeds, or glass: I drop them in just before loading the film. I've even used insects. These objects then sit on the film emulsion when I'm taking the picture. It's a way of encompassing the actual essence of a place in an image, the visual noise and chaos."
'Where intention meets chance' … Stephen Gill's shot of a Hackney street
This sounds like a quirky school project that could easily look crap but the results are simple and beautiful. Full of texture and punk. Gill claims to love and rebel against photography in equal measure. Speaking about Hackney he hits the rusty nail on the head - "Hackney is a place that attracts obsessives. It's something to do with its contradictions: you can be in a beautiful spot with canals and meadows, and then the flipside is chaos and dirt. That's what I'm trying to grapple with." (Interview with Guardian - 3 March 2010)
Stephen Gill is included in a group show aptly called 'Et cetera' curated by the formidable Tom Jeffreys of Spoonfed at Hoxton Art Gallery, opening tonight:
64 Charlotte Road, Hoxton and Shoreditch, EC2A 3PE