An Interview With: Jack Allan

Who are you and where did you study?

Hi I'm Jack Allan originally hailing from Norwich and I studied at Middlesex University in North London.

What is your artist statement for the body of work “The Anthropology of Plants“?

This collection is an investigation into the choices that are consciously made concerning plants. People have varying interactions with plants, be it for food or decoration, but the urge for controlling them is the common connection. With the inability to move, most of a plant’s life is dictated by the owner. Whether the subjects are pressed against glass or left out in the open, this collection intends to catalogue the methods people employ when keeping plants. The aim of this project, in particular, is to showcase lazy or totally mindless approaches, and the impressions left of the persons involved.

What/who do you think your main influences are?

I find myself very inspired by William Eggleston, Walker Evans and Mitch Epstein (in particular 'New York Arbor' but also Dutch golden age painters.

Photography connected to anthropology is not normally about aesthetics more functional documentation, taking this in consideration how did you decide what images would be best to use?

With this idea, I found myself choosing images which displayed this idea of the landscaping or gardening job being just 'alright' and half arsed. Of course some of the chosen photographs are just decisions I would not personally be happy with if I had a choice in the plants care of placement. The choices made are a mixture of this and which images fit together in series. Trying to find a flow of images is the challenge.

How do you work when shooting a series?

Generally, I tend to envelop myself in the idea I'm working on and make it a point to make specific trips for 'project photo opportunities'. For this project I mapped out locations to start at and just take it from there with little direction for the first hour or so, perhaps deciding to travel north for however long, or follow a road to its end. London is hard to find yourself stranded from public transport, so this helps greatly. 

Your images seem to use ambient light, if you were to use lighting how do you think this would affect the project?

It would allow me to shoot during the night, but I feel if I was using strobes or flashes I would draw too much attention to myself. I tend to try and be unobtrusive when shooting this project compared to others I have done in the past.

How would you like the viewer to feel in response to your work?

I would hope they would find humour in some of the pathetic displays of plant life in the city. 

What is the best piece of advice you could give the viewers of The Pupil Sphere?

Shoot whatever format and just get good images. Film or digital, none cares much in the end, do whatever feels right to you.


All images copyright of Jack Allan



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