Photography

An underlying theme of much of my work as a photographer and printmaker is the richness of experience that can be gained by focusing on what is normally unseen in our everyday surroundings. My work explores how time and chance can bring together extraordinary and beautiful juxtapositions, focusing on the magic chance of discovery. I am fascinated by traces of behaviour and events: both what might be about to happen and what we can imagine has already taken place. The poet Paul Muldoon described me as having ‘that rare ability to allow nothing, least of all himself, to come between the subject of a photograph and the perceiver’. I like to reveal what is already there to be seen.

I often draw inspiration from creative collaborations with other disciplines – particularly poets and writers. The relationship between text and image is not one of illustration or description but reveals something much more, opening up new imaginative potential.

Mayo Series I

Selected photography projects

Alan Davie

Artists

These portraits are part of continuing work on portraits of artists whose work includes printmaking.

Douglas Dunn

Poets

This series of portraits is from a long-term project of portraits of poets. I wanted very much to focus on the individual, free of distraction from their environment, so they are all set against a plain background. I felt this common and simple element also brought a unity to this range of disparate thinkers.

Harehope series I

Harehope Series

This series comes from a study of an area called Harehope in the Scottish Borders.

Salamis

Simonides

Shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award, this collaboration with the poet Robert Crawford took its title from the ancient Greek poet Simonides best known for his epitaphs and work on memory. The work was exhibited first at Edinburgh College of Art as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival and subsequently in Oxford, Glasgow, Chicago and at Yale.

Apollo

Plan B

Plan B is a collaboration with the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon published by Enitharmon Press. Here there is an uncanny relationship between word and photographs, one which has more to do with evocation than description.

“I’ve been a fan of the photographer Norman McBeath since I met him first in Oxford. He has that rare ability to allow nothing, least of all himself, to come between the subject of a photograph and the perceiver. That holds true of a sheep or a statue of Apollo in transit: the medium does not impose a sense of mediation. There is, rather, an invitation to meditate. The very idea of a ‘subject’ soon begins to seem crudely inappropriate.” Paul Muldoon

Merton Street

Oxford at Night

Oxford at Night is a collaboration with Jeanette Winterson which was exhibited at The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, the first exhibition by a living photographer in the museum's history. 

‘These photographs are sometimes dark mirrors that beckon to a world both revealed and reflected. This is our known world, but it is another world too – not known. Again, the photographs are doors, half opened, for you to enter. They are not what they might seem. In daylight, it is simple. At night, it is not simple anymore.’ Jeanette Winterson