Monday, 16 November 2009


Young British Photographer Stuart Bailes explores woods and glaciers to capture heightened experiences on film.

24 year-old Stuart Bailes likes to walk in a straight line, armed with a large format camera and flash lighting. He transforms familiar spaces into eerie experiences by working at night, often exploring new locations on foot. Bailes has been awarded the Fujifilm Distinction Awards, 2008, the Reginald Salisbury Travel Scholarship, 2007, and MPD Graduate Future Partnership Award, Portfolio Award, 2007. He has exhibited at numerous spaces including the Photographer’s Gallery, London, and at the PhotoEspana, Descubrimientos PHE08, Madrid, Spain. I met with him in London Fields to talk about the land and the image.

Come to the show, up now, through November 22, if you’re in London.

Fortuny: What photographers/artists are you inspired by and why?

Bailes: Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko…Abstract Expressionism was one of the coolest things to happen in painting. Bas Jan Ader: he managed to gel aspects of Romanticism with Conceptualism. This is an almost impossible task but he did it well. James Turrell, Anthony McCall: These guys harness light in the best possible ways making light and maths the material of their work. I love lights and I love numbers. Werner Herzog. Herzog uses the lens to present what is true and what is not true and somehow manages to retain Herzog's style in every film he produces. He is often softly Romantic but always aware of this.

Fortuny: Can you discuss the Romantic versus conceptual in your work?

Bailes: I love being on the land, walking on it, thinking about it and learning about it. I want to photograph those incredible moments where the light hits the right place or you see something phenomenal but in making that picture and presenting it something is lost, or left behind in the transaction. I search for alternative means of presenting the unattainable thing that potentially has romantic connotations, for example in the lighting and colours I work with. I enjoy the imagined possibilities of landscape.

Fortuny: What equipment do you use?

Bailes: I use a 5x4 large format camera. I like the historical context of using the 5x4 camera to make 'landscape' photographs.

Fortuny: Do you have any other talents?

Bailes: In 2008, I went on a month long European tour with an Icelandic musician called Olafur Arnalds ( I worked as the lighting designer/operator for the tour. We did shows in many different venues with a whole range of specs from tiny clubs in basements to the Barbican and also to a couple of 5,000 capacity outdoor festivals.

Fortuny: How do you pick the landscapes you shoot?

Bailes: I do have a preference for cold places. I have traveled to Iceland a number of times because I love the blue-coloured sky of their dark winters.

Stuart Bailes is exhibiting in Flashforward 2009 at the Lenox Contemporary in Toronto, Canada October 8-25th, 2009 and in the Hal Silver show, which opens 18th November, and runs from 19th -22nd Nov @ The Russian Club, Kingsland Road, London, UK. Check out for more details.

The full interview will appear on Dazed Digital.