In The Studio: Peter Fraser, photographer
'The luminosity of Flemish portraits and still-lifes attracted me'
Friday 26 April 2013
Peter Fraser is a major British photographer, whose importance has been acknowledged by the Photographers' Gallery, London, which staged a 20-year survey of Fraser's work in 2002. He was shortlisted for the Citibank Photography Prize in 2004 and counts among his students Wolfgang Tilmans and Jeremy Millar.
We are sitting today in his comfortable sitting room in south-east London, where he works and lives with his second wife, a therapist. The room, like so many live- and work-space environments is dominated by work – in this case an impressive set up of computer and printers and desk at one end of the room.
I am immediately drawn to one of his photographs – a deceptively simplistic still life of a basket of grapes and apples. What captivates the eye is the detail – the bloom of the grapes and the blush of the cheeks of the apple. Fraser declares that this is the quality of the prints he has been making with a pigment printer and has completely transformed his working process, making him discard previous work in the series. "It was seeing the purple of a beetroot or red cabbage," he says earnestly, "I knew this was something different".
Fraser's choice of still-life as a subject is not surprising; he lived in Holland for several years, earning a living washing dishes in a hospital while spending his free time in museums. "There was not a lot of photography to look at, so I spent my time looking at 15th-century Flemish painting of landscapes and still-life. It was the luminosity of the portraits and still-lifes that attracted me."
Fraser, born in 1953, had his first solo show in York in 1982, although he admits that it was only fairly recently that he was making a living from photography. He started his photographic career in Hebden Bridge after returning from Holland before landing up in Manchester. There he completed his first set of gritty urban landscapes, the subject of his first exhibition. I suggest that the subject matter was semi-documentary and he says "No, I am not a documentary photographer," leaving me to explain that whether he agrees or not, the early works together provide a documentation of a time of urban grittiness. He admits that "artists make propositions in their work".
Fraser is quick to confess his admiration for the American photographer William Eggleston. The two met at an opening at the V&A museum; Fraser was there with a borrowed ticket given to him by the photographer Martin Parr.
Fraser was inspired enough to pack up his possessions and go to Memphis, Tennessee. "It was not long after arriving in America that I realised I was a European and returned to England". Fraser says that Eggleston with his "ability to find beauty in the banal has changed the way we look at the world". Fraser has the same ability, albeit with European-shaped eyes.
Peter Fraser, Tate St Ives (tate.org.uk) to 6 May
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Bill Clinton portrait features Monica Lewinsky reference, artist admits
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 Average penis size revealed: Scientists attempt to find what is 'normal' to reassure concerned men
Poldark star Heida Reed says show is not that racy: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
Historian: ‘Disney was right to show King John as a villain' in Robin Hood
Glastonbury 2015: Coldplay will not headline but Florence Welch might play, says Emily Eavis
Game of Thrones season 5 spoilers: What we can expect according to George RR Martin's books
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut