An Interview With: Andrew Mellor
Who are you and where did you study?
I was born in Blackpool in the Northwest of England in 1980 where I still reside. I went to Blackpool & the Fylde college in 2012 to study photography and graduated with a 1st class BA Honours degree in 2015. My photography explores natural and man-made environments, and the interaction between the two with concerns over how we use the landscape and the social and political issues surrounding it.
What is your artist statement for the body of work “On The Fringe“?
Prior to the arrival of the tourist industry, the population of Benidorm numbered only 3,000 and its main economy was fishing. In the early 1950s the industry started declining. Faced with an economic struggle the town council approved the ‘Plan General de Ordinacion’, employing all the town’s resources into tourism. A mass building programme was orchestrated to accommodate for the influx of visitors.
Tourism was the path to development yet it also contains the danger that development will destroy the very thing people have come to enjoy. With tourism, it is not clear whether rapid development is in the locals' economic interest.
The proliferation of all-inclusive hotels has been the subject of much debate over the years with local businesses struggling to keep afloat. The infamous catchphrase if you want to get pissed show us your wrist certainly rings true, with the reasoning that if they have already paid why go out.
“The fundamental characteristic of tourist activity is to look upon particular objects or landscapes which are different from the tourist’s everyday experiences” (Gaffey 2004).
This series represents the possible effect the all-inclusive package holiday can have on a place whose reliance is almost solely on tourism. In reality, the social relations surrounding tourism are complex and must be negotiated, contested, and resisted.
“Our experience of any landscape through the senses is inseparable from the social and psychological context of the experience” (Sopher 1979,)
Where did your inspiration for the project come from?
I come from a tourist town and while my hometown does not have a problem with all inclusive venues it does have problems with its tourist industry. So it interests me to see the impact of peoples behavior to their chosen holiday destination. Mass tourism is still quite a new concept and we still have a lot to learn about it and the impact it has. Benidorm as a destination interested me because it’s a place where mass tourism was planned after its primary industry was failing.
Your photographs have a similar colour scheme to them, what is the reason for this?
I always like to try and keep images as consistent as possible across a series to keep it tied together and the colour palette has a huge impact on the way a project is viewed as it can instantly reveal a part of the story as we interpret colour to certain feelings.
The photographs in this project seem like you are looking for the banal, leaving many ambiguities for the viewer. What were you looking for when shooting this project?
Benidorm is littered with the effect of the all-inclusive industry from closed businesses to the cheap cost of literally everything. I wanted this to be ambiguous I wanted the viewer to really question what they were seeing and form questions. The banality of the gated complexes and the empty ocean tells a large part of the story.
From my own experience when traveling abroad you have to really consider the amount of equipment to take. What equipment did you use and why?
This is something that has changed considerably over the last few years. I used to carry a mountain of gear with me. Nowadays I keep it simple and I always plan and really consider what it is I intend to shoot and I pack my gear accordingly. With this project I only used a Yashica tlr, a tripod, a cable release and my light meter. I also packed several boxes of film. I like to keep things as simple as I possibly can the last thing I want to do is carry a large bag with lots of equipment that I probably wont use.
What are your plans for the future?
My immediate future plan is to clear my spare room and turn it into a darkroom. Other than that I just intend on producing more work and keep working on my personal projects.
What is the best piece of advice you could give a student of photography?
The best advice I could give anyone is to make work that interests you. I think the more you personally care about your subject matter the more it shows in the finished work. You need to be engaged to be faithful to your subject.
All images copyright of Andrew Mellor.