John Maclean – The Hometowns
Book Title: Hometowns
Printed Material / Technique: Colour Photocopy book dummy
Print Run / Edition Size: 30
John Maclean – The Hometowns from Photobook Club on Vimeo.
The videos on this site are not designed to replicate the experience of reading these works, instead they aim to give a flavour of the interaction of the body with the book and a sense of scale. To see the works for yourself, head here.
Book Description: Photographing the hometowns of my art heroes.
If every image is the result of an accumulation of other images, should our influences be a source of anxiety, or a source of ecstasy?
My sixth photography project, Hometowns, takes a reflexive view of the subject of artistic influence. It began life as a line in my notebook — ‘Photograph the hometowns of your heroes’ — an idea for a layered investigation into the places which influenced the artists whose work has coloured my own. Two years later, that line has become a sixty-five-image, photo-homage to a unique group of artists who have been my mentors-by-proxy, and an endeavour to untangle the strands which connect me to their work.
In total, I have travelled to twenty-five towns and cities: the environments where ‘my’ artists each spent their formative years. Every trip was preceded by a period of biographical research, which inevitably refreshed my memory of the photographs, paintings and sculptures that emerged (at least partially) from these neighbourhoods. Important artworks had persuaded me to travel to these locations so, unavoidably perhaps, I photographed each hometown through their afterimage. But each place provoked an individual response, and I found myself swimming with and against those currents.
Paying tribute to the spirit in which each artist worked was a central concern, but intrinsically this meant making my own imprint too. After all, to make works that were mere genuflections would have been an artistic betrayal. The key seemed to lie in the paradox of this series: that these photographs have been formed by a process of unravelling. So I have tried to find opportunities where I can add ‘twists and turns’ of my own to the photo-mechanism of re-braiding.
Early reactions suggest my photographs can be seen in numerous ways: actual (though oblique) postcards from a famous artist’s hometown, metaphorical artist-to-artist postcards, perhaps landscapes skewed through the telescope of tradition, portraits… or even self-portraits. Overall, I hope they have an underlying quality that reflects the ambivalence experienced by every artist: the anxiety and ecstasy of influence.
Biography: Born in Buckinghamshire, England, John spent part of his childhood in Canada and the United States. He began using a camera at the age of 14 when he discovered the book ‘American Images’, featuring the work of Lee Friedlander, Lewis Baltz and John Gossage. After studying mathematics, physics and geology he went on to graduate in photography at the University of Derby. He subsequently worked at The Royal College of Art for four years. John has been a London-based, freelance photographer since 1998, using commercial commissions to support an independent, fine-art practice. His exhibition of Two and Two was a solo show at Flowers Gallery, London. John has had work published in Photoworks, 1000 Words, Source: The Photographic Review, SeeSaw, LPV Magazine, IANN Magazine, British Journal of Photography, Album, Gomma… John has self-published eight photobooks: New Colour Guide appeared on two ‘Best Photobooks of 2012′ lists.