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Giving the everyday life of small-town England and its middle classes the gentle poetry of a love song or a melancholy drama, that’s what photographer Ian Howorth’s work offers. A documentary photographer who lives in Brighton and whose mother is of Peruvian origin, Howorth’s work is built on this cross-cultural perspective. His books, from “Arcadia” published in 2019, to “A Country Kind of Silence” in 2023, carry the solitary, silent melancholy of an involved observer.

The artist presents his own work as addressing themes of identity and culture. At first glance, however, it’s a feeling of intimacy that arises in the face of his work, the intimacy of a recognition, of a place that could so easily be considered one’s own: the details of a car seat, a newspaper placed on the benches of a laundromat, a corner of a bathtub in vibrant colours… Yet everything seems to take a back seat.The camera lens positions itself as a silent observer, forcing us to adopt the same role. Light and colour are intelligently used to aid the discourse of the images. In “Arcadia”, the blue of an outdoor corridor or the flashy neon of a bingo counter offer the hope of an elsewhere, while the pink silhouette of a veil on the beach accentuates the solitary presence of a resident. In “A Country Kind of Silence”, ravaged telephone booths are transformed into a glowing forest. Images that seem to tell us intimate, personal pieces of history.

This ambiguity between recognition and withdrawal is undoubtedly an expression of the photographer’s quest for identity. A way of appropriating places through images, discovering personal resonances, confronting his own imagination, all backed up by evocative titles.

Ana Bordenave

Angleterre – Brighton