“I’m trying my best to keep it exactly what I felt it was,” says photographer Jamie Hawkesworth of his latest exhibition A Short Pleasurable Journey, Part Two. “It was a short journey, it was really pleasurable and these are the pictures and this is the film.”
The second half to his 2016 exhibition of the same name, the work traces Hawkesworth’s documentation of three weeks he spent in Florești – a tiny village in Romania. “I was travelling through Florești and it was so beautiful,” he says. “I ended up staying for three weeks and that is basically the show.”
Recognising the charm of his surroundings, Hawkesworth was inspired to capture the beauty of where he was at exactly that point in time. While the first part of the exhibition was the story of his movement – having shot in various countries from Japan to Antarctica – this most recent show sees the photographer honing in on one specific place: “I haven’t really done this since Preston Bus Station,” Jamie says of the work that boosted his career when published in pamphlet, Preston Is My Paris, back in 2010. “I did it in one place and I really wanted to show all of the steps in between.”
Hawkesworth’s photography has always been noted for its subtlety as well as its subject matter, and it’s the authenticity that remains present in this latest exhibition. Not one to rely on heavy production or over-editing, Hawkesworth has maintained the stripped-back style he’s known for, adding: “That’s really what has always been quite important to me, that I’m not trying to say any grand message. I think the title hopefully reflects that.”
Taking a more literal approach than Part One, the exhibition is intended for the viewer to feel as close to Hawkesworth’s time in Florești as possible. “When someone walks around the show, in the most honest way, I really do want them to feel like they’re by my side plodding along and taking pictures of things,” he says.
Where does the interest in showing a journey in your work stem from?
It’s actually from not really having an idea. I’ve always loved picking a place and seeing what I come across. And the idea of being open to chance, which comes with going to a place, not knowing what you’re going to do, and seeing what you come across. The best way to illustrate that is through showing the pictures I took in that place and that’s where this idea of the journey comes from. When I first started taking pictures, I’d catch trains around England and sort of pick a place. There was a certain naivety because I didn’t really know much about photography, I was just excited by every little detail that I came across. So, in a way, turning up to a place and just walking around kind of holds onto that naivety a little bit.
Aside from the journey itself, what are some of the other themes in this exhibition?
I like to think the main themes are the details and an appreciation of making something quite normal feel quite monumental. Not in an over-the-top way, just in a way that makes sense. I’ve talked about this a billion times, but the chance nature of things and being in that rhythm – it’s always there, it’s always a theme. With the show being unedited, it allows for that theme to come across more than in any other show I’ve done.
What gets you excited about your photography subjects?
I’ve found the less you try to force your inspirations or love of things onto people the better. It becomes quite predictable. I’m very open to surprise. I did a shoot not long ago where I said to the stylist ‘I don’t want to know who we’re photographing – I’ll just turn up and be surprised’. When I’m walking with my camera on my own, like I was in Romania, I don’t know who I’ll come across. The surprise of seeing someone for the first time is quite exhilarating. I found that, particularly with models, the surprise of not knowing is quite amazing.
What has most informed your photography style so far?
What really informs anything I do is curiosity about a place or of a particular person or location. That curiosity is what gets me out of the door to take photographs. I mean, it’s an obvious thing to say but it’s true.
What are you hoping your viewers will take away from this exhibition?
If someone comes out thinking ‘wow, this place Florești I’ve never heard of – it’s incredible’, then that’s great. Shining a light on a place, and for no reason, just for the love of going somewhere. I think that’s always quite nice because I feel like with a lot of things it can very quickly become quite heavy politically or whatever it may be. I like the idea of going to an exhibition and just enjoying the spirit of exactly what it is.
Lastly, what is your idea of a short, pleasurable journey?
I think the times I’ve been most excited, like when I was in Florești, is when I get up at sunrise and I walk for about 30 minutes. That’s my idea of heaven. You know that time when the light is particularly amazing and you’re walking down a place you don’t know? For me, that’s a short, pleasurable journey.
A Short Pleasurable Journey, Part Two will be exhibiting at 1 – 7 Aylesbury Street, from 17 – 27th May, open 10am – 6pm daily.