It’s always been important to me that I embrace freedom and the idea of no set path. The less control I have over my environment, the better. I enjoy being impulsive, so travelling for long periods of time is ideal for me. I love surrendering to an environment or the people I meet and seeing where it leads me. It’s a fascinating way to work; the camera becomes a tool to experience the world.
I’m interested in telling stories about our connection to the land. The idea that embracing how small and vulnerable we are can be empowering if we look at in the right way. We experience the world through encounters, mostly seemingly inconsequential short experiences, tourism specifically in its universality helps us understand and digest the complex nature of the world. I’ve always believed that the most trivial acts, are the most telling, the pleasure of discovery and adventure, no matter how choreographed encourages us to be curious.`
China is an endless pool of inspiration for me, it’s so steeped in history and aligned with some key themes in my practice including fabricated memory and national identity. The way in which fast-track urbanisation has alienated the population, both from the countryside and from their own histories is a concept I am really drawn to. The past has been erased in such a significant way; there is this constant tension in the air that you can’t escape. Humiliations of repeated invasions and occupation in terms of their history are hidden or painted over. Their furious attempts to modernise, control and manage the landscape, is part of overcoming the past and I think that’s something I relate to both on a personal level and as an idea. It really encapsulates a very human survival instinct.
Likewise, Mongolia is a really fascinating place. Approximately 45% of the country’s population resides in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. And about 60% of the city’s population lives in the Ger districts surrounding the city. You get this surreal mashup of new skyscrapers and decaying Soviet tower blocks surrounded by thousands and thousands of gers/yurts. It’s an incredibly overwhelming site. Especially after the flight in, when you look out of your window and see endless empty landscapes going off into infinity. The extremes in weather pose a massive threat to a place that still holds on to its magical nomadic heritage.
My nomadic approach to shooting is all about going with the flow. Dropping any expectations of myself and giving myself over to that particular day and location, so I can just focus on observing and absorbing what is going on around me. Just being as open to the world as I possibly can be.
I believe we can suppress so much of our creativity if we seek validation from others, fear failure or put ourselves under time pressures. I’ve always been very conscious of this. If I fail that’s totally fine and to be expected, the main priority is enjoying what I am doing and being grateful to have the opportunity to be there.
Technology has been a huge enabler during my trips. Using my phone as a navigation tool and translator is critical. I also love that I can still stay connected to my partner and family. I sometimes think you end up being more connected to people when away because they reach out a little more.
I think I’m happiest when going somewhere new and just being able to look out the window at something I haven’t seen before, it makes me feel calm and extremely fulfilled. Once you get home, you only remember the work you make, opposed to the struggle, so I always try and stay focused and work through the physical discomfort and obstacles I face.