Interview with Jonathan Cherry, originally published in May 2014 on mullitover.cc.
Jonathan Cherry: What did you want to be growing up?
Richard Aldred: I didn't seriously consider that until I had to, at which point it was clear that I definitely didn't want certain jobs, while others were less objectionable. It didn't occur to me at this time that photography could be a job. I studied law then worked as an auditor, with photography as a portable hobby. As my interest became more serious, I threw myself into it, leaving my job and completing undergraduate and postgraduate photography degrees, and actively seeking commissions and ways to get my work seen.
JC: Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?
RA: I read a lot of critical theory and consider the ideas in light of what I see around me – so I'm most inspired by my surroundings.
To mention a few specific visual things that I've enjoyed recently, Turner and the Sea at the National Maritime Museum is superb. His treatment of light is a big influence on how I see, so it was exciting to see his mixed media sketchbooks and late experimental studies, and how he built up a scene on an unfinished canvas.
Stephen Shore: Something + Nothing at Sprüth Magers was very thought provoking. I really like some of his work, but it doesn't offer much development over the last forty years. This show was very strongly curated, showing work in very well observed non-linear groupings.
I was also recently given the catalogue for Alex Prager's Face in the crowd exhibition, and am enjoying being able to view her work away from a screen.
JC: What are you up to right now?
RA: I'm working on a project called Lesser Monuments.
Monuments are normally buildings or statues erected in recognition of a notable person or event, while the buildings shown here can be considered monuments to the familiar. Familiarity doesn't suggest ordinariness; each photograph still has a clear interest, and the sequence has a varied pitch.
Individually, the photographs are representations of the specific places before the camera, but cumulatively they evoke a broader atmosphere and sense of familiarity. Similarities of light and colour provide a framework for a more impressionistic take on the visual index.
JC: Have you had mentors along the way?
RA: Studying photography, certain lecturers and a technician were very willing to give me their time. I've had other support which I wouldn't characterise as a mentor relationship: I've been fortunate to meet various photographers, curators and publishers who have answered questions, offered advice, or discussed wider ideas.
JC: Where are you based right now and how is it shaping you?
RA: I'm based in Malvern, which is a small spa town in an area of outstanding natural beauty. I took the opportunity to move here at the end of last year, after being based in Manchester for about six years. I wasn't sure what to expect photographically; I knew it was very attractive, but my most frequent subject is the use of space, which is very different here.
JC: One piece of advice to photography graduates?
RA: A lot of work is recognisable as the product of certain degree courses; consider your work in a much broader context.
JC: If all else fails - what is your plan B?
RA: I could make deliberately commercial landscape images, or take a part-time job while still pursuing my own projects. Neither would be terrible.
JC: Is it important to you to be a part of a creative community?
RA: Yes. I have the independence to judge my own work critically, but it’s both helpful and enjoyable to discuss ideas and exhibitions with friends. Hin Chua and Jason Andrescavage always offer an interesting perspective. I also attend a lot of exhibitions and art events, but this doesn't offer as tangible a benefit to my own practice, as the interactions are less focussed.