An interview with Jamie E. Murray, THRESHOLD First Prize Winner
Metro interviewed Jamie Murray, MA student from the University of the West of England Bristol, and the THRESHOLD Student Photo Award Winner.
- Firstly congratulations on winning the THRESHOLD Student Photo Award, what does it mean to you to have won?
Thank you! It means a lot to be selected for any award, but especially so from Metro. I know the quality of the work you produce and can’t wait to work together on some prints.
- You won your award with the work ‘Soul’, part of your on-going project ‘A Folly of Our Own, 2018’, can you explain a little about the background of the project?
Soul is an ex-prisoner who I sat down with to talk through his experience of incarceration. This meeting is one of a number of face-to-face meetings I have had with ex-prisoners to try and get more of an insight into the affects of the institution of prison. During these conversations, I also make portraits and take notes of what is said in an effort to collect various materials I can refer back to.
I am interested in the notion of documentary within photography and what it means to tell a story from varying perspectives. In a previous work, I sailed with a Royal Navy ship back from their deployment in the Persian Gulf. Although I inherited the feelings of the ship I was on and photographed their story, the work still resided in a place defined by my perspective. If I had spent one day, one week, one month in prison I would not have matched the collective experience of prisoners. There is something about hearing the stories told, embellished in all their glory or sadness, that allows you true insight into the folklore of that place. The experience that counts is the one we remember, and the experience we remember is the story that we tell.
- Part of the First Place prize is a year’s mentorship with Metro Imaging, what are you looking forward to learning or hoping to gain from the experts here at Metro?
I have always been interested in the production of photography, whether in prints, books or on screen. I worked in a lab for a number of years which gave me a grounding in the processes used in contemporary printing, I am keen to learn how the professional printers can add something to the final prints. This can hopefully be translated into the production of artist books, which is something I am heavily working on right now.
I’m also always interested in hearing what people from varying backgrounds think about my images, both individually and as a sequence. I can only imagine how many images go through Metro’s doors every day, it must be an incredible cross-section. It is something I miss about working in a lab, you feel like you have your finger on the pulse of what people are shooting. It would be interesting to know what everyone at Metro thinks about these varying visual trends and where they are going.
- How would you describe your photographic style and what inspires you to shoot?
Style is a hard thing to define. So far, I have preferred to err on the side of melancholy, but that is not something set in stone. I shoot colour, that was the largest stylistic choice I have made in recent history. I had spent years working with black and white, heavily informed by my influences from when I started photography. The watershed of moving to colour allowed me a freedom to interpret the world in a way less inhibited by what I had seen before.
The inspiration to shoot is like an ever-returning itch. You scratch it when you come across a picture that surprises you, or that helps you see that moment in a renewed light, however a day or two later the itch returns. The more these different moments begin to play off each other, the stronger the itch comes back.
- We know photographers always have one eye on their next project, do you have any current projects or upcoming exhibitions you’d like to use your awarded £1000 credit for?
I am in the process of adding to what I have been working on for just over a year now. The work started with Albatross, made whilst on the warship, and has grown to encompass the prison and school as topics as well. It is broaching the ideas of institution and where the affects of these institutions reside in contemporary society. The credit will in some way go towards producing this work. I am having an exhibition of Albatross early next year, that will be the first project to work on.
- What are your ultimate photography/career goals?
If I have an ultimate goal, then I don’t want to know what it is right now. There is something quite freeing about not knowing where each choice might take you. This is also present when it comes to making work if it can be planned, conceptualised and then carried out there is a much larger chance of creating something derivative. This is also where collaboration becomes a key point within photography. Collaboration is one way of creating the unexpected. I think it’s healthy for the often-solo photographer to let go of the self and allow others to come in and provide vital new influences and reinvigorate the work, a great example of this is working with a printer.
Ideally, if I can continue to explore the themes that interest me, make work from them, and then produce that work into prints or books then I think will be happy with my lot.