Peter Newman Q&A
Peter Newman's photographs examining our relationship to the sky are showing at Eleven this month, part of a group exhibition on inspiring environments.
For more than 15 years Peter Newman has been making photographs, sculptures, paintings and videos that all address a human relationship to the sky. For him, looking upwards is an inherently optimist gesture and something he compares to thinking about the future. As the artist has said: ‘Gravity dictates the earth contains a buried past of dinosaurs and archeology, the surface reveals the activity of present daily life, but what is above is an empty field of possibility, a space in which to conceive and live the future.’
Newman has developed an on-going series of photographs entitled Metropoly that record the view looking up in different cities around the world. The photographs are taken using a vintage ultra wide-angle lens, that captures a 180-degree field of view, adapted to fit a state-of-the-art digital camera. Originally invented for astronomy and to observe atmospheric phenomenon, here the artist uses the ‘all-sky’ lens to record the urban panorama overhead. The circular images celebrate a variety of iconic architecture, the way it reveals the character of a city and frames the sky above. Modernist structures are of particular interest and frequently feature. The photographs have a documentary quality; recording a particular moment in the history of a city, as well as the artist’s own view of the world.
Several of the Metropoly series are currently showing at London's Eleven Fine Art, as part of a group show titled From the Road.
What's the greatest picture you didn’t take?
Image AS8-14-2383 by the astronaut William Anders, taken during the Apollo 8 mission in 1968.
Otherwise known as 'Earthrise'. Equally, the deep space images from the Hubble and Kepler telescopes are wonderful.
Which photographer would you most like to (a) work with and (b) talent spot
(a) William Anders. 'The camera's floating your way dude...'
(b) Risaku Suzuki. A successful photographer, but I'd love to see a show in London.
What keeps you awake at night?
If you hadn't have become a photographer what would you have like to have been?
An architect or film maker. And I'd still like to learn a musical instrument.
Do you have a life philosophy?
You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need.
How do you germinate ideas for your work?
I never know where they'll come from to begin with, but once there's something, in the doing you find.
With the Metropoly project I do a lot of walking. When I arrive in a city, I walk and walk, until eventually I'll find a spot where everything falls into place. It's a process of becoming more aware of everything around me, which is actually very rewarding in itself. Except I often find myself standing in the middle of traffic or alarming security.
You in three words
Five feet eleven
What advice would you give to your 16 year old self?
Stick with it. You're lucky you know what you want to do. And get a haircut!
From the Road is at Eleven, London until 17th March 2012.