Exhibited as part of 'How We Are: Photographing Britain' at Tate Britain, London, 2007
This project is an ongoing series of photographs of houses and their immediate environments in and around the English county of Surrey. The photographs are of houses built exclusively by the property developer Charles Church in the 1980s. The appearances of these houses refer to disparate historical eras including Roman, Tudor and Georgian.
These photographs propose a type of image where houses simultaneously embody versions of history and an immediate reality; a public display of social values and private places of ownership and habitation.
The work makes reference to the picturesque as a category of landscape image that historically proposes an imagined and idyllic home, both domestic and national. The work also refers to a history of the photograph as document. Therefore the pictures complicate a certain distinction between real and imagined place. The series of photographs aims to construct illusions of spatial and temporal convergence, where the past is uncannily brought into the present as an impression of history.
Pictures from the project were included as Charles Church Houses in 'How We Are: Photographing Britain' Exhibition at Tate Britain, 2007 and published in the Exhibition Catalogue by Tate Publishing (ISBN 978-1-85437-714). 'How We Are: Photographing Britain' was the first major exhibition of photography held at Tate Britain. The exhibition ran between May and September of 2007. It was conceived as an investigation into how photographers have represented Britain, offering intense reflections on its people and places to the widest possible audience. The final themed section was called ‘Reflections on a Strange Country 1990 – 2007’ where four pictures from Charles Church Houses were included. Various photographs that deal with notions of past and present in relation to place were in this section of the exhibition. The exhibition was curated by Professor Val Williams and Susan Bright who both contributed essays, along with Martin Parr, Gerry Badger and Kevin Jackson, to an accompanying illustrated catalogue by Tate Publishing. An interview with 'How We Are: Photographing Britain' curators, Val Williams and Susan Bright is published in PLUK Issue 33, Spring/Summer 2007. Susan Bright states …Nostalgia is a complex notion bound up with history and memory – just like photography. This show will aim to make people think about the history of Britain and their feelings and relationship to it.
Selected Reviews on 'How We Are'
"…Tender documentation transformed into sharp critique as various photographers of the 1980’s
(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…"
(Aaron Schuman, Aperture, Spring 2008, Issue no 190).
"…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, Review, The Daily Telegraph, 19.05.07)
"Britishness isn’t only defined by famous places. It’s also about the ordinary – streets, shops. I like the photo of Robin Hill Drive…"
(Ricky Wilson, 'The View From Here' [article on How We Are: Photographing Britain] in The Observer Magazine, 29 April, 2007).