Inside this issue
Peter Heaton studied Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University and later gained an M.A. in Fine Art from Leeds Metropolitan University. Over the last few years Peter’s work has revolved around the complexities of layering visual information and our resulting interpretations of the images. He has continued to exhibit widely since 1987, his work being featured in many publications and on both BBC and ITV Television. He has work in private collections in Europe and America. In 2010 he left teaching in higher education, to concentrate on his own work.
In 2012 I paused by my local river and everything changed. I’ve moved away from what many expect photographs to be: my images deconstruct the literal and reimagine the subjective, reflecting the curiosity that water has inspired in my practice. Water has been my conduit: it has sharpened my vision, given me permission to experiment and continues to introduce me to new ways of seeing.
In this issue, we’re delighted to find out more about the work of Peter Heaton. From ‘Dark Landscapes’ to the complexities of layered visuals, drawings and text - and sound - Peter shares with the viewer his home ground of North Yorkshire and the Yorkshire Wolds, some of the thoughts and emotions attached to being in the landscape, as well as his concerns for our environment. It’s a fascinating insight into how stories can be developed, the evolution of technique, and how we might try to bring back into the picture what lies beyond the selectivity of our compositions.
Would you like to start by telling readers a little about yourself – where you grew up, your early interests and education, and what that led you to do as a career?
I grew up in a small town in Lancashire called Clayton–le-Moors, probably best known for being the home of the Nori Brickworks (the story goes that it should have actually been the ‘Iron’ brickworks, but no one remembered to reverse the lettering on the moulds for the bricks). If you venture east, it is on the fringes of some of the most beautiful landscape in the country… the Ribble Valley, and Trough of Bowland. If you go west you are into the heart of (what was) industrial Lancashire with its profusion of mill towns.
The Leeds-Liverpool canal snakes gently through Clayton evoking a slower pace of life, the M65 Motorway with its associations of high speed and progress was driven mercilessly straight through the centre of it back in the late seventies. This meant that for years I grew up amongst streets of boarded up semi-derelict buildings, which were waiting for the final permissions to be granted to demolish them all.
My Dad, a keen fell runner, tried to encourage me to take up running and although I was a member of Clayton-Le-Moors Harriers for a time I never really took to it. Going with my Mum to watch him compete in races in the Yorkshire Dales instilled in me a love of the countryside, but I much preferred the pace of walking, where you noticed a lot more about your surroundings and didn’t get out of breath.
Much later in life I was introduced to a system of personality typing called the ‘Enneagram’ (nothing at all to do with the Irish singer) which describes nine personality types and how they interpret the world and manage their emotions. It is not a simple system, as it at first may appear, it is extremely nuanced and my type - the No 5 - is termed ‘The Observer’. I suspect that many photographers reading this would find resonance with the No 5. Take the test (there are several on the internet)… you may find it surprisingly revealing.
I attended school in nearby Blackburn and after A-Levels (Art, English Lit, General Studies) I went to Rochdale College of Art to do an Arts Foundation Course. Up to this point I had never touched a camera; after this point I never really put one down.
After graduating in 1980 I began to teach Photography and Film Making on a part-time basis. Moving on from there to Associate Lecture posts, then to a full time post teaching photography across a range of full and part time Art and Design courses, I eventually became Head of Photography at York College. Later I returned to being an Associate Lecturer in order to be able to concentrate more on my own work.