Monday, December 19, 2016

John Maclean - HOMETOWNS

Hometown of Takashi Homma, Ottowa, Tokyo

It was a pleasure to meet photographer John Maclean at OffPrint in Paris this last November. John showed me his recent bookwork Hometowns and pleasingly agreed to a book swap. What immediately stuck me about Hometowns was how well it worked. It was clear that John had got it right on every level. The concept is strong, demanding even and requires some work by the reader to decode. Yet the work is not conceptually leaden where you simply want to give up before you've got it. With its simple unobtrusive design the book works as an object, it looks good and feels good in the hands.
And last, the pictures are stunning. You can see John's distinctive voice apparent in his image making while at the same time he hits so many different visual notes. This makes for a surprising read, leaving the reader wanting to figure out the rationale behind the making and the sequencing. Nothing is too obvious and that's a big plus for me.

In a footnote to the book John explains his thinking behind Hometowns. Essentially how we all, subconsciously or not, pay homage to our own group of cultural ikons. In my case Eggleston is  a point of reference and so he is to John Maclean. John's list includes many of the artists who are also on my list and I guess that's one of the reasons why I like Hometowns so much.

JM says this: While the creative desire is always to look forwards, "original" art is always, at least in part, an encoding of work from the past. Hometowns takes a reflexive look at the process of encoding. It began with a line in my notebook: "Photograph the hometowns of your heroes" - an idea for a layered investigation into the places that influenced those 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 own mentors-by-proxy, and an endeavour to untangle the strands which connect me to their work. 

Although born in Buckinghamshire, England, John spent most of his childhood in Canada and the United States. He began using a camera at the age of fourteen 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 changed direction and studied photography at the University of Derby (UK) under Olivier Richon. He subsequently worked at The Royal College of Art for four years. John has been a London-based, independent photographer since 1998. His 2010 exhibition Two and Two was a solo show at Flowers Gallery. John has had work published in Camera Austria, The British Journal of Photography, Source, Photoworks, Yet Magazine, 1000 Words, SeeSaw and IANN Magazine to mention a few. He has published nine photobooks; New Colour Guide received two ‘Best Photobooks of 2012′ awards. His project Hometowns was exhibited at Unseen, Amsterdam in 2015. Hometowns was also awarded Best International Photobook of 2016, judged by David Campany, Dewi Lewis and Lucy Moore. It will be exhibited at Format Festival, Derby 2017. Print sales through Flowers Gallery.

Hometowns was published in an edition of 400 copies. Still available at PHOTOBBOOKSTORE UK HERE.
And while you're at it you can check out John Maclean's website HERE.

Hometown of Rachel Whiteread, Muswell Hill, London

Hometown of Robert Cumming, Mattapan, Massachusetts

Hometown of Robert Frank, Wipkingen, Zurich

Hometown of William Eggleston, Sumner, Mississippi

Hometown of Robert Rauschenberg, Port Arthur, Texas

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