Former Beaulieu student and Jersey born photographer Stacey Yates moved to London after completing her degree in Wales in 2004. I caught up with Stacey and talked about her forthcoming exhibition and her hopes for the future.
How did you get into photography?
When I was bored at home as a kid I?d always drag out my parents old photo albums with the cheesy 70?s sunset on the cover and pour over them for hours imagining their lives before they had children. They are still my favourite photographs. My Dad was a photographer in Jersey?s vibrant days when tourism was huge and I spent a lot of time as a child with my mum while she sold photos to tourists doing the rounds at hotels and riding donkeys at Pontins! My Dad always said, ?Stacey – a good picture is a sold picture? I never understood what he meant until I got older. I think it?s boll**ks to be honest.
Why the move to London?
After studying for my BA in Documentary Photography in Wales there was really no reason for me to stay. The course in Wales was great. It really gave me the space to consider what I was looking at, and why and how I wanted to capture things. Moving to London seemed like the natural step after Wales. It was a good time to move to the city and get to grips with the art/photography scene. It?s a pretty important and explosive time for photography as art right now.
Are you still interested in pursuing documentary
Yes but I think the term ?documentary photography? is pretty ambiguous. Documentary photography is generally associated with suffering and hardship. After college I watched lots of my classmates come back from assignments in third world countries covering AIDS, homelessness, war? you get the picture (excuse the pun). I learnt that I didn?t feel comfortable photographing something that I didn?t understand and know enough about emotionally or culturally. I didn?t want to be responsible for telling a story I understood little about. I?d need a long time in those places before I could comfortably photograph and find a voice. Making pictures in the UK was something I could relate to more, and I wanted time to consider things not just rush, in a snap way ? I think this led to my decision to make pictures around Disaster Recovery (my last exhibition in Jersey which took place at Hometime). I suppose this shift in feeling has led me to step out on to the art route but to me it?s still documentary. I just want to talk about simple things sometimes. There is a lot of beauty in the simple things.
Can you tell me about your new forthcoming
exhibition ?the seduction of place??
The Seduction of Place is a collaboration with three other artists Sarah Finn, Dominic Hawgood, Louise Taylor – curated by Hannah Schlotter. It?s an exhibition funded by the British Council and is very much about responding to space. The space we are focusing on is green belt land, which is basically the back door to London city and the beginning of the Essex countryside, which is marked by Aldborough Hatch farm. It?s a space that has changed considerably over time and with the Olympics around the corner is very likely to disappear altogether. I?m interested in the ownership of the land and how the space feels in direct relationship to that ownership. The space between the city and the countryside wherever it may be is pretty blurry and hard to pin down. I want my pictures to reflect that.
I have a few personal projects on the go that will pick up pace after this exhibition is complete. One of them is exploring the notion of unidentified people and how we imagine who they were and how they lived their lives. It?s easy to go missing in the city and lots of people do, only leaving behind possessions that help us imagine who they might have been. I?d like to make photos around that ? portraits without people. I?d also like to return to Jersey at some stage and do a photo project about the island in some capacity. Having distance from Jersey (i.e. living in London) makes you understand the island in a different way and I?d like to explore that. Long term, I?d like to study a masters in photography, teach part time and keep making and showing work.
Stacey?s work can be seen as part of ?The Seduction of Place? from 31st July until 10th August at Studio 1.1 Gallery, Redchurch Street, London. It will then move to Aldborough Hall Farm, Essex as part of the Real Ale Festival from 28th August. For more information visit: www.staceyyates.com