PODCAST: A Photographic Life, Episode 171: Plus Photographer Peter Fraser

In episode 171 UNP founder and curator Grant Scott is in his shed reflecting on mentorship, teaching and the passing on of information. He also provides his final found rules for life.

Plus this week photographer Peter Fraser on the challenge of supplying Grant with an audio file no longer than 5 minutes in length in which he answer’s the question ‘What Does Photography Mean to You?’

Peter Fraser bought his first camera at the age of 7 and went to school in Wales until 1971, when he left to study Civil Engineering for three months at Hatfield Polytechnic, before deciding to study photography at Manchester Polytechnic between 1972 and 1976, repeating his final year due to becoming seriously ill crossing the Sahara Desert in early 1975. Fraser was an early adopter of colour photography in the UK, and began exhibiting colour photographs in 1982. In 1984, he travelled to Memphis, USA to spend two months with William Eggleston, after meeting him at Eggleston’s first UK exhibition opening the previous year. Between 1983 and 1986, Fraser made the exhibitions, Twelve Day Journey, The Valleys Project, Everyday Icons and Towards an Absolute Zero which led to his first publication Two Blue Buckets in 1988. This book won the Bill Brandt Award hosted by the Photographers’ Gallery in 1989. In 1990 Fraser was invited to be the British Artist in Residence in Marseilles, which led to the subsequent exhibition and publication Ice and Water. He travelled widely in the early 1990s to scientific research establishments photographing machines at the cutting edge of technology, proposing a series of ‘Portraits’ of machines shown and published as Deep Blue. While visiting nearly 60 scientific sites, he frequently photographed in scientific ‘Clean Rooms’ where particles of dust above a certain size were not admitted. Subsequently, he decided to start photographing ‘dirt and other low status’ material. Simultaneous to this work was a University of Strathclyde commission to make new Art in their Applied Physics Department. This led to two series being combined into a single new series of photographs, Material published in 2002. The same year The Photographers’ Gallery showed a 20-year overview of Fraser’s work, and in 2004 he was shortlisted alongside Robert Adams, David Goldblatt and Joel Sternfeld for the Citigroup International Photography Prize. In 2006 Fraser was invited to be an Artist in Residence at Oxford University to make photography for the Biochemistry Department. In 2009 he was commissioned by Ffotogallery, Wales, to make work across the country that resulted in the exhibition and publication Lost For Words. In 2012 Fraser exhibited A City in the Mind at the Brancolini Grimaldi Gallery, London. In 2013 Tate St Ives exhibited a selected retrospective of his work, and published a monograph containing photographs from all of Fraser’s major series to date. In 2013 Fraser received an Honorary Fellowship from the Royal Photographic Society. In 2017 his exhibition Mathematics was exhibited as part of PhotoEspana 17, and Skinnerboox, Italy, published Mathematics. The first UK exhibition of Mathematics opened at Camden Arts Centre, London in 2018. The accompanying File Notes no 120 published by the gallery, featured a specially commissioned essay The Things that Count by Amy Sherlock, deputy editor of Frieze. www.peterfraser.net 

Dr. Grant Scott is the founder/curator of United Nations of Photography, a Senior Lecturer and Subject Co-ordinator: Photography at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, a working photographer, documentary filmmaker, BBC Radio contributor and the author of Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained (Routledge 2014), The Essential Student Guide to Professional Photography (Routledge 2015), New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography (Routledge 2019).

Grant’s book What Does Photography Mean to You? including 89 photographers who have contributed to the A Photographic Life podcast is on sale now £9.99 https://bluecoatpress.co.uk/product/what-does-photography-mean-to-you/

© Grant Scott 2021

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