Gareth Phillips Cardiff, Wales UK
Gareth Phillips is a photographer from Cardiff, Wales. His work is primarily focus on the Welsh landscape and its people.
He is part of the MJR Photographic Collective based in New York and works out of London and Cardiff, UK.
Gareth Phillips was chosen by photographer Eamon MacMahon
Laatikkomo’s interview with Gareth Phillips March 8th, 2016.
L: Where are you from? Or what cities, and/or countries have you lived in – what places have influenced you?
GP: I am from the capital of Wales, Cardiff, and presently reside in the city. Since my early twenties I have travelled extensively so many places have influenced and shaped my vision and work. The mountains and coastal areas of Wales provide me with a rich palette in which to explore, but I also take a lot of inspiration from London and New York City.
L: What traits from your own cultural background are apparent in the photography you currently make, or do you think your background influences your work in any way?
GP: I’d say a lot, if not all my personal work carries traits of my cultural background within it. The people of Wales tend to have have a deeply nostalgic and passionate connection with their indigenous landscape, and for me, it is highlighted in the emotions of the people and of the land. From the incessant rain that saturates the rolling hills to the tear drops that fall down a mans punched face, Wales is a country of strong emotion and I try to reflected that emotion in almost all the work I create.
L: What is your first memory of photography/film?
GP: I don’t recall my first memory of photography or film, but I remember as a teenager when I first used a camera and realised its potential to allow me to communicate. I was on of my first foreign trip, to Paris, and I took my mothers Minolta point and shoot camera. I had two rolls of film and walked the city at night with my Parisian friend taking images of the streets and nightlife. It was this trip that piqued my interest in the potential of photography.
L: A lot of your personal work is shot in black and white but you also have a body of work titled “colour studies”, what is your relationship to colour?
GP: I don’t regard there to be a difference between ‘Colour’ and ‘Black & White’. Blacks, whites, greys, reds, blues etc are all colours I utilise to convey a feeling or emotion. For me the circumstance or situation dictates what ‘colour’ I use. I regard it similar to the choosing of a particular paintbrush if one was to set about creating a painting. There are many brushes/approaches to choose from so I allow the scene and subject matter to dictate what brush, (or colour) I use. I allow my gut instinct to take over and decide what palette is best for whatever feeling or scene I am trying to convey. Even though a lot of my present work is shot in blacks, whites and greys, I openly embrace any opportunity to use all colours within the colour spectrum.
L: The series you are presenting in Laatikkomo seems to be shot with a long exposure time, or is that the effect of the fog? The soft planes of colour are reminiscent of painting, are you consciously influenced by other practices of art?
GP: The images were shot in a full moon light as dawn was rising in a mountainous area of South West Wales. Upon witnessing this scene I was in awe of low moving mist and cloud rolling down the mountainside. Most striking was the blue cold light of that morning dawn. It was so captivating.
As for artistic influences, I would say I am heavily influenced by other art forms and try my hardest to see and experience as many art forms as possible. I think modernism and sculpture are the two I gravitate to the most, but I also enjoy works from the impressionism era. I find the artists bravery to push beyond there mediums most inspiring.
L: Your assignments have covered a broad range of intense stories. How do the stories you shoot affect what and how you take photographs in your more personal work? What kind of choice do you have about the kinds of stories you work for?
GP: The biggest thing I take from the assignment work is how to assess unfamiliar scenes and light very quickly, and react to that. Often you are given minimal amounts of time to create important editorial imagery, so learning how to react quickly to any photographic situation has cross-pollinated into my personal work.
L: Could you list 5 (or more) words that you were thinking about when you made this work (shown in Laatikkomo)?
GP: Awe, Fear, Nostalgia. That’s what I was thinking about.
Thank you so much Gareth!