Grófarsalur 14.01.2023 to 23.04.2023

Christopher Taylor │ Presence

The exhibition Presence consists of three series of photographs spanning a 25-year period that combine to explore contrasting notions of presence within an Icelandic context.

Nunas Cushion Reykjavík 1998 - Mynd eftir Christopher Taylor
Cushion from Guðrún, Kleppsvegur, Reykjavík 1998

I have been coming to Iceland regularly since 1983, the year Álfheiður and I married. These visits were often spent in the company of family, at their homes in Reykjavik or Eyjafjörður. Having left Iceland as a child after her parents' divorce, Álfheiður is often nostalgic for those little domestic details we all fondly remember. Sitting at my mother-in-law’s kitchen window while contemplating the shifting light, I too became attuned to this world. I began to photograph interiors absent of people as a way to evoke such fleeting emotions.

I also made portraits; some are the inhabitants of those interior spaces. They are mostly family or friends, photographed over the years of my visits to Iceland. There are also a few farmers, the people who live closest to the land, in Þistilfjörður where Álfheiður’s paternal family came from. An area I have come to think of as home.

Then there are portraits of rocks. At every opportunity, I love to take long walks to explore new terrain, sometimes on the pretext of retracing the steps of Álfheiður’s ancestors. Rocks and water are the dominant features that accompany me on these expeditions. Once alone in the landscape, the senses hone in on each prominent feature. Such details attain memorable significance. They are sometimes remembered in names, another form of presence.

I grew up in Skegness - a seaside resort on the east coast of England. I taught myself photography following a summer job while still at high school in the 1970s, photographing tourists on the seafront. At university, I studied zoology and subsequently worked for a while in research.  

Moving to London in 1984, I found work in I.T. while in my spare time pursuing personal photographic projects. I began to exhibit these a few years later, notably in London at the Photographers’ Gallery.   

From 1986  I travelled for 2 years with my wife Álfheiður and an old Rolleiflex (which I still use) in Asia, mainly in China and India. The experience has led to an enduring fascination for the history and culture of these two diverse countries, to which I return regularly for photographic projects, publications or exhibitions, including Tasveer Arts (Bangalore/Mumbai/Delhi/Kolkata), Ofoto gallery (Shanghai), MoArtSpace (Henan), photo festivals including Pingyao, Lianzhou, Dali & Tianshui, Galerie Camera Obscura in Paris and Hôtel Fontfreyde – Centre photographique, Clermont-Ferrand. 

Since marrying Álfheiður, who is Icelandic, in 1983, I regularly visit her homeland. Initially inspired by the novels of Iceland’s Nobel laureate, Halldór Laxness and Álfheiður’s close relatives, I have completed three photographic series in Iceland. The most recent, « Steinholt » (2011 – 2017), has been the subject of exhibitions at venues including; galerie Camera Obscura, Paris, the National Museum of Iceland in Reykjavik, Mind Set Art Center, Taipei, Galerie Le lieu, Lorient and Fondacio Forvm, Tarragona, with a book published by Kehrer Verlag (Heidelberg). 

A new book - “Illuminations” - of colour images will be published by Kehrer this autumn. The subject is my parents, family history and the house in Skegness that they have occupied for 65 years. 

I have lived and worked near Montpellier in France since 1992. Using medium and large format analogue cameras, I process film myself and devote much of my time to the darkroom in the production of fairly large-format prints for exhibition. I have been represented by Galerie Camera Obscura in Paris since 1999. 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Christopher Taylor

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Reykjavík Museum Of Photography

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