Gilbert Townshend

(b. 1988, London, UK)

Contact


Studies


About

I am a photographic artist from London, currently on the Masters program at the University of Brighton.

I’m interested in chemical photographic process and engineering as much as the process of organising and taking photos. My work involves alternative process printing, creating and modifying cameras as well as asking questions around what is a photograph.

Aside from still image making I have also worked in TV as a camera assistant and as a graphic/web designer.

Where possible I like to be practical and learn new skills, be they in music, electronics, fabrication or programming. I enjoy taking apart machinery to see how it works, trying to solve problems I have without resorting to buying ready-made solutions by making my own things.

I’ve done a lot of life drawing and spent probably too much time trying to understand how computers work. I also have an interest in interactive art and art made with light.


Process

It’s often hard to put a finger on what exactly pushes me to do a specific project. Sometimes it has been a desire to try out a new technique, a new piece of equipment, with others it has been to a brief or with a particular model in mind.

I thrive when I set myself or am given limitations, working creatively within those restraints leads to more exciting outcomes.

Though it’s really more about the image than the technique, part of the enjoyment I get out of analogue image making is the physical nature of working with film, chemicals and paper. The tactile quality of handling things and my choices of equipment end up allowing more space for thinking about the what, not the how.

For six years I took a photograph of myself every day, despite not enjoying having images taken of myself and with no intention of showing them. It was called Amateur Narcissism.

Some of my as yet not fully realised experiments have involved my interest in origami and photography. By folding light sensitive paper and projecting images onto it I aimed to create three dimensional prints. My desire was to escape the idea that an image has to be a flat and effectively dimensionless object, making use of the pictures inherent position in space.

My practice is in a state of development, which is why I wanted the time to experiment on an MA course.. The majority of what I do has been self-taught, the more I do the more I learn about what fits my working patterns. I really thrive when there are people I can ask questions of and learn from, much of the improvement and change has come when I have found likeminded people to work alongside.


Influences

As is often the best way, the people who have most influenced me are from disparate artistic backgrounds. I try to keep and open mind where possible and to seek out as many different influences as possible.

Here are some of the more immediately memorable:

I very much admire the work of Bridget Riley, Giovanni Battista Piranesi and M.C. Escher for their mathematical elegance in design and the artworks they produce(d).

Robert J. Lang, Eric Gjerde and Peter Callesen for their amazing work on origami and paper sculpture.

The Sculptural work of Alexander Calder, Takis and Donald Judd which showed me that sculpture could move and feel like more than just and object to be reverent of.

The opulence and elegance of the Vienna secessionist movement, as typified by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. Schiele made me appreciate the angles of human form; John Coplans and Benoit Courti showed me how photography could show humans in ways I had never considered.

Surrealism in Georgio de Chirico, Max Ernst and René Magritte. Appreciating the weird, the humour in art as well as just how much personal perception shapes artistic expression.

Dan Flavin, James Turrell and Fischli & Weiss amazed for their installations based on light alone and how much a space can be shaped by changing what you get to see of it.

Issey Miyake, Aitor Throup, Gareth Pugh and Lee (Alexander) McQueen opened my eyes to just how experimental and wonderful fashion can be, despite the haze and weirdness that surrounds it all.

The music of Bach, thanks to my grandmother who is and always has been a true devotee of classical music.

I was introduced to the masters of 20th century photography as so many are via Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Lee Miller. I got excited by less famous people like Frank Habicht and Akihiko Okamura who showed me both about cultural revolution and the strife in conflict.

As for those living and currently making work those influences seem to change all the time. Some of the people I have been enjoying lately include: