Fergus Heron is an artist and researcher, working in the medium of photography.
His methodical photographing of landscape and architecture investigates the tensions between tradition and modernity, generating reactions to unpopulated but otherwise familiar environments.
Fergus Heron's work forms an extended inquiry into the visibility of connections, discontinuities and tensions between the traditional and the modern through the depiction of architecture, interiors and landscape.
His practice involves long term engagement with ongoing projects, rather than working from one subject to the next. While bringing together diverse pictures of natural and humanly constructed environments throughout Britain, his work exercises a particular focus upon landscapes of the south east of England. His projects include houses, common land, shopping centre interiors, motorways, coasts and ponds. Within these individual bodies of work, questions are posed about the photographic representation of nature as a modern idea; architecture as a manifestation of tradition; the nocturnal landscape as urban and rural convergence; the image of the house as historical hybrid; shopping centre interiors as spaces of display, desire and consumption. His practice relates to a range of art historical, literary and photographic references.
Heron's working process is highly meticulous and systematic. His photographs are made with consistent viewpoints, illuminated only by available light and always absent of human activity. This process emphasises stillness, a sense of extended present time and even visibility of detail in each picture. His work often involves a single photograph being made. Otherwise, where similar views are possible, photographs are made in pairs or sequences. This technique complicates the subject, and more importantly, the process of seeing, posing questions about how elements between and within photographs are related. Working with a view camera, Heron's work aims to decelerate and distil the process of photography, through slow picture making and concentration upon some of its most basic principles.
The originality of the practice as research is in the long-term commitment demonstrated to the depiction of specific landscapes, architecture and interiors that are considered as complex processes with which to see, rather than simply as photographic subjects. In connection, Heron's work considers the photograph as a complex image situated between past and present, representation and resemblance, absence and presence.
He studied at the Royal College of Art and the University for the Creative Arts. His work has been exhibited internationally and was included in the first major exhibition of Photography at Tate Britain; How We Are: Photographing Britain. Recent exhibitions featuring his work have taken place at George and Jorgen Gallery (London), Worcester City Museum and Art Gallery, and Pitzhanger Manor Gallery (London).
This work considers the question of how a commonly encountered modern English landscape might be represented through photography.
This ongoing series of photographs of motorways considers the nocturnal landscape as a convergence of urban and rural space.
Aims to address how photography might depict everyday commercial spaces where globally produced commodities are displayed, desired and consumed.
This work poses questions about the photographic representation of environments simultaneously natural and humanly constructed.
Heron, Fergus (2014) Desires grown solid: shopping centre interiors In: Deriu, D., Kamvasinou, K. and Shinkle, E., eds. Emerging landscapes: between production and representation. Routledge, Abingdon, UK, pp. 45-49. ISBN 9781409467052
Shinkle, Eugenie, Newth, Martin and Heron, Fergus (2012) Visible economies: photography, economic conditions, urban experiences [Edited Collections]
Heron, Fergus (2012) Capital [Exhibition]
Heron, Fergus (2012) Fergus Heron: common measure [Exhibition]
Bonnell, S., Newth, N. and Heron, Fergus (2011) Elusive [Exhibition]
Heron, Fergus (2010) Some things, somewhere Hotshoe International (164). ISSN 0959-6933
Heron, Fergus (2010) Fergus Heron, Charles Church Houses, selected works 2004-2010 portfolio [Artefact]
Heron, Fergus (2010) Fergus Heron, Common 2010 - 2011 Portfolio [Artefact]
Heron, Fergus (2010) Urban Fictions University of Westminster.
Heron, Fergus (2009) Fergus Heron shopping centre interiors portfolio 2009-2011 [Artefact]
Heron, Fergus (2008) Night: A Time Between [Exhibition]
Heron, Fergus (2007) Charles Church House Tate Britain, London, UK.
Heron, Fergus Fergus Heron, motorways, selected works 2000-2004 [Artefact]
Present Tense, Phoenix Gallery, Brighton
ESO16, Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne
In Place of Architecture, Bonington Gallery, Nottingham
Inhabit, Brighton Photo Fringe, Brighton
Scene, The Studio, Pitzhanger Manor Gallery and House, London
Views on SE1, Anise Gallery, London
Contemporary Landscape Photography, Worcester Museum and Art Gallery
Land, Travel and Environment, University of Brighton Gallery
Capital, George and Jorgen Gallery, London
Elusive, Camberwell Space, University of the Arts, London
Night: A Time Between, Royal West of England Academy, Bristol
How We Are: Photographing Britain, Tate Britain, London
Forest Dreaming, Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World, Exeter
Unravelling Photography, Quay Arts, Newport, Isle of Wight
Photoworks Ideas Series Interview; https://photoworks.org.uk/ideas-series-interview-fergus-heron/
Desires Grown Solid: Shopping Centre Interiors in Emerging Landscapes by Deriu, Kamvasinou, Shinkle (eds.) Ashgate ISBN 978-1-4094-6705-2
Visible Economies, edited book with essays by Eugenie Shinkle and Martin Newth, works by Sutapa Biswas, Emma Charles, Anna Fox, Immo Klink, Corinne Silva. Photoworks, ISBN 978-1-903796-48-1
Elusive exhibition catalogue, with essay by Martin Newth, Camberwell Press, ISBN 978-0-9536395-6-4
Urban Fictions essay on the work of Richard Rowland for the exhibition Urban Fictions at London Gallery West, University of Westminster, May 2010
Night: A Time Between exhibition catalogue with essays by Dr Janette Kerr, Dr Steve Poole and Lily Markiewicz, Royal West of England Academy, ISBN 978-1-899525-03-4 2007
How We Are: Photographing Britain exhibition catalogue with essays by Val Williams, Susan Bright, Kevin Jackson and Martin Parr, Tate Publishing, ISBN 978-1-85437-7142
Unravelling Photography exhibition catalogue with essays by Nancy Roth and Liz Wells, Quay Arts, ISBN 100-9552787-2-4
Still/Remains, photographs and essay in Eventful, Photographic Time edited by Yve Lomax and Olivier Richon, Royal College of Art, London. ISBN 1-874175-52-7
Royal Photographic Society, 9 July
Richard Billingham Artist Talk (Chair) Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne
In Place of Architecture, Nottingham Trent University, 6 November
Landscape, Wilderness and the Wild, Newcastle University, 26th - 28th March
Of the Earth, Plymouth University, 24th - 25th October
Beyond the View, Canterbury Christ Church University, Sidney Cooper Gallery, Canterbury and Turner Contemporary, Margate, 10th - 11th July
Nocturnal, Land/Water and the Visual Arts, Plymouth University, 26th - 27th June
Lessons in Geography (with Martin Newth) MAC Birmingham, 8th - 9th November
Landscape Photography, Panel Discussion organised by Miniclick at Anise Gallery, London, 17th October
Disobedient Objects at Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Organised by Centre for Research on Socio - Cultural Change and V&A, 3rd September
In/Vulnerabilities and Social Change: Precarious Lives and Experimental Knowledge (with Martin Newth), Organised by Centre for Research on Socio - Cultural Change, University of London, 5th September
Photology, Hastings, East Sussex, 5th August
Visualising the Rural, University of Cumbria, Carlisle, 4th - 5th July
Folio Forum at The Photographers' Gallery, London, November 22nd
Visible Economies, organised by University of Brighton and Photoworks as part of Brighton Photo Biennial 2012, 29th October
Water:Image, organised by the Land/Water and the Visual Arts Research Group, Plymouth University, 4th-6th July
Ultima Thule, in conversation with Stephen Vaughan, Photofusion, London, 25th May
Documentary Aesthetics organised by University of Brighton and BPB as part of Brighton Photo Biennial 2010, 5th November
Emerging Landscapes a joint venture between the School of Architecture and the Built Environment and the School of Media, Arts and Design, University of Westminster, Marylebone Campus, 25th – 27th June
Public Lives, Private Lives co-organised by the Centre for Research in Memory, Narrative and Histories, University of Brighton and the Centre for Life History and Life Writing, University of Sussex, held at University of Brighton Grand Parade Campus, 2nd June
"...The Front View gallery presents Fergus Heron’s first solo show. Currently Senior Lecturer in Photography at the University of Brighton, Heron creates meticulously researched works, focusing on landscape and architecture.
Exploring collective experience and perception, Heron’s subjects include forests, shopping centres and coasts. His photographs are captured using available light and are free of human activity. Navigating urban and rural England, Heron is concerned with revealing ‘connections, discontinuities and tensions between landscape and architecture, nature and artifice, the traditional and the modern’. From suburban streets to twilight motorways, Heron’s images invite a new contemplation of the everyday, reminding us of the wonder that may be found there."
Iris Veysey, Vignette Magazine, 2012
"The Front View is a gallery based in a Victorian townhouse in the coastal town of Whitstable, Kent. Dedicated to contemporary photography, film and video, the gallery was launched in 2009 by Julie Thorne and Tom Sutherland. Their latest exhibition displays the photography of Fergus Heron, an artist who deliberately avoids the spectacular, exotic or sublime to contemplate the familiar from a different perspective through his photography. Concerned with ‘making visible connections, discontinuities and tensions between landscape and architecture, nature and artifice, the traditional and the modern’, the artist’s work reminds us of our common inheritance. Fergus acts as a guide through urban and rural England, reminding us that we do not have to travel far to witness ‘the intense wonderment that is present in our everyday surroundings, and yet apparently absent in our perception of it’. This beautiful collection will be on display until 22nd April, 2012."
John Jones News, 2012
"The show features works by 29 British and international artists and involved photography, prints, video, and installation. A few did not appear to experiment much beyond photographic subject matter. Fergus Heron's Westfield London captured Westfield shopping centre minus the shoppers: an eerie yet inviting study of the crowded architecture of the 'empty' space. This I liked."Rebecca Collins, Review of Elusive, Camberwell Space, London, Trebuchet Magazine, 2011
“Some works may be seen as an act of defiance; a daring to see where one shouldn’t look. Others, poised on a border of different spheres of reality, vision, perception and social context, allow (even trick) the viewer in to seeing what would otherwise be obscure or remain unnoticed (Cavusoglu, Derges, Heron, Holdsworth, Lawrence, Shapland)... Some of the images exude a sense of stillness, melancholia even, (Chmutin, Heron, O’Donoghue, Perry)...”
Lily Markiewicz ‘Night Pieces’ in ‘Night: A Time Between’ Royal West of England Academy, 2008
“Fergus Heron’s two series, of woodlands and motorways remark traditional spaces; places we dare to traverse, like babes in the wood, not knowing what will greet us once there. The pictures are classically constructed using a central viewing point from which to penetrate the trees in the middle distance. Undergrowth regeneration masks various histories of settlement, or economic activity. Clearings, cabins, bricks, stones and other fragments make limited sense without local historical knowledge. Was the area used for hunting? By highwaymen? Or are we enjoying erstwhile military sites? Imagination runs uncannily rife! By contrast, the motorways, eerie by night, testify to wonders of technology and engineering. Roadways point to human insistence on speed and convenience; locations are anonymous and the past is obliterated as concrete lanes snake in to the distance beneath and beyond our gaze. The lack of cars belies the fact that at least one – the photographer’s – must be present somewhere. Farms and villages, which once were neighbours, are now segregated by dual carriageways and the rush hour roar; histories have been shoveled aside in the service of speedy transportation. This juxtaposition of work from two separate series effectively signals differences in the journey from past to that which presently obtains; woodlands develop and change over the years, adjusting incrementally and seasonally; by contrast motorways are founded on wholesale destruction of soil and species.”
Liz Wells ‘Disentanglements’ in ‘Unravelling Photography’, Exhibition Catalogue, Quay Arts Publishing, 2006
“...Tender documentation transformed into sharp critique as various photographers of the 1980’s (Martin Parr, Paul Reas, Anna Fox, and Jane Bown among them) began to snipe away at the materialist pretensions and social hypocrisies that thrived during Thatcher’s regime. Many contemporary practitioners appear to have inherited a hint of this cynicism, although their imagery is generally subtler in tone. Fergus Heron’s 2006 Charles Church Estates series examines eerily bland suburbia; Jonathan Olley’s Deadmans Point (2003) documents a holiday caravan park perched on the edge of a massive oil depot; Sarah Pickering’s Public Order project (2002-05) records the empty streets of a simulated urban environment, used by police for riot training... “
“...In Fergus Heron’s shot of an empty Surrey street, everything is so deathly still that we can’t help noticing the things that are alive: the ivy creeping up the brick walls, the trees and hedges towering over the little red car in the drive, the sinister sense of nature reasserting its dominance over this artificial asphalt landscape... as in so much on show here, hardly anything happens. This is not an exhibition that dwells on the big event... How We Are opts for a scale that is human rather than historic... ”
Benjamin Secher, The Daily Telegraph, 19.05.2007
University of Brighton Research Sabbatical Award
Nominee Jerwood Artist Platform