An Interview With: Kendal Fewster
Who are you and where did you study?
My name is Kendal Angharad Fewster. I studied BA Photography at Edinburgh Napier University.
Could you introduce us to the body of work with a brief statement?
My series, ’In Between’, explores the notions of division and isolation caused by socioeconomic, demographic and environmental transformations within communities. I focus on the relationship between the built environment and nature to try to understand the physical and emotional partitions that separate us from our neighbours.
What were the key motivations for 'in between'?
Growing up in Edinburgh, I noticed that the way in which we describe where we are from can hugely influence peoples perceptions of who we are.
As there are no clear boundaries between areas of Edinburgh, I wanted to discover where the residents felt one town stopped and the other started.
Motivated by this concept, I set out to do my research and interviews in various locations over Edinburgh.
When exploring the area of Pilton, notoriously known for its division between East & West due to gang rivalry, I wanted to find out where the residents felt that the boundary of these two subdivisions was.
Through my interviews I discovered that there was a small area right between the East & West of Pilton that did not identify itself with Pilton at all, rather the main road that runs between the two: Crewe Road North.
How do you approach a new project?
I think that research is a really important stage for me when it comes to starting a new project.
Firstly, looking into the history of a place or a group of people is very important to understanding your subject matter. No matter what subject that you are going to photograph, there will always be an element of history behind it, so gaining as much knowledge as you can will only allow your project to excel.
Secondly, getting to know what work is already out there, especially the topics similar to the ones you intend to explore, will allow you to make sure that the way in which you carry out your project is both unique and original.
And thirdly, doing your own research is so important. The people that know the subject area the best are those you are photographing, or in my case those who live in the area I wish to photograph. In my series, I carried out weeks of both qualitative and quantitative research to allow me get the best understanding of the area and to make sure the locations that I chose to photograph were as accurate as they could be.
Did you encounter any residents in Crewe Road North, if so, what are their feelings regarding their area and it's unique situation?
I would not say that my series explores such a unique situation. All over Edinburgh, and in fact all over Britain, people are using specific language to illustrate what type of person they are by where they live. Whether you say you are from an ‘upper’ area or ‘near’ somewhere or ‘the new houses’ etc., being either more vague or more specific to where you live are signs that you are trying to deceive or confirm a stereotype.
I interviewed many residents in the Crewe Road North area over the course of my series. Most of them were very helpful and were keen to help me with my research. I was even invited into several peoples homes and really welcomed by them.
Most of the residents felt that there was still a negative stigma to the area, thats why they disassociated themselves with it. Many seemed happy about the current gentrification of Pilton and hoped it might bring a better name to the area in time. However, they were not confident that these new residents would integrate with the current community.
There was a point in my series where I thought that I might include portraits of some of the residents so I sent out letters to everyone that I had interviewed. However, I received replies saying that many of these people, although happy to help with my research, did not want to be associated with the area so were not comfortable having their photograph taken.
What are your plans following graduation?
After graduation I intend to travel and pursue projects I have been planning for a long time. I’ve always had a passion for travelling, however never really has the chance due to my studies. So I hope to make my documentary work all over the world and work on editorial assignments along the way.
My first stop is South Africa, then New Zealand, Australia, and finally I will be travelling around South East Asia, to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and more.
My goal is to work as a photographer on assignment for editorial magazines or newspapers. While creating my own personal work which is steered more at exhibition and galleries. I am passionate about telling stories exploring political, social and climate issue in both my commissioned and personal work.
Could you share any advice to other photographers approaching their next year of study, How would you advise them to get the best out of the year?
I would definitely advice you to do what you love. Although you want to challenge yourself and explore new genres of photography, its important to embrace your personal style and produce the work that you want to create not what you think others expect you to do.
I love working outside and rarely step foot in the studio anymore, so it was so important for me to show off my skills shooting outdoors.
I would also tell you to make the most of the equipment that your university has provided you with. I shot the series ‘In Between’ on large format 5x4 camera using colour film. This is something that I dream to shoot with once I have graduated however it will take me a couple of years to afford and choose the right one. Therefore, I took this as my opportunity to use this equipment and really push myself.
And most of all, research, research, research. The best way that you can make an excellent series it to have the knowledge about that subject.