Róisín Murphy has been a total hero to us for a long time. Her sound and style, her collaborations and perpetual reinvention, mark her out as a singular talent in the music industry. From the look in front of the camera to that behind it, Róisín owns it like no other. There’s an effortless swagger to her beats and a DIY survivor instinct to her ways. We’re beyond thrilled to have met her and have start a thread of inspiration.
Work by Roisin Murphy:
Róisín nominated her friend, the photographer and filmmaker, Elaine Constantine:
My friend Elaine Constantine is probably one of the greatest inspirations to me… on the directing side. She started as a photographer and left school when she was 16, she couldn’t read and write—I’m not sure completely believe her when she says that— and she got taken in by Nick Knight who was obsessed with skins. She was a skin head, and that whole scene, so she brought him round it to photograph it and was his assistant throughout this period. Then she moved to London and then she became a humongously successful fashion photographer. And then, the first time I saw her directing, she directed me in Familiar Feeling.
So I gave her a chance to do the first bit of directing. It cost a fortune. We even had a proper actor —Paddy Constantine— and she brought all the people she knew from the northern scene cause it was all about northern soul. She’s amazing. I watched her shouting on a mega phone and then, after that, I was watching her reading every book she could get her hands on, everything from the canon.
Her images are frozen but there’s so much energy bursting out of this imagery that you can sense this person’s got more to tell, more of a story, than the usual fashion photographer. She’s totally steeped in northern soul. She ended up making a film called Northern Soul a couple of years ago which she made off her own back and it ended up becoming a huge success and #1 on the i-Tunes download films. That was a massive inspiration to me to see her doggedly go, “That’s what I’m gonna do” and see the amount of authenticity that went into it.
She wanted the film to be young with 16-year-olds and so she ended up having a couple of years where every couple of weeks she’d meet this gang of kids and teach them all about the moves and music. Not only did she end up with them being totally, authentically, immersed in the culture, but that ended up being a nucleus of young people who are into northern soul which has spread ever since with young people getting into it.
Directorial work by Elaine Constantine:
Photography work by Elaine Constantine:
Elaine Constantine nominated the English photographer Daniel Meadows
If George Orwell was the modern writer of the people then Daniel Meadows is very much the modern British photographer of the people. Both men went to great lengths to understand the lives of the British working classes before making them the subject of their work. Orwell lived the life of an itinerant beggar or kitchen hand in preparation for Down and Out in Paris and London and Meadows, from a similar background to Orwell, spent the early seventies traveling the country in his Free Photo Bus, getting to know how the working classes lived and what they thought, often living with his subjects for periods of time before committing them to film.
It’s not the work of a self-publicist, like many photographers of our day, it’s the work of a person who has tirelessly tried to communicate the stories of ordinary people, their motivations and triumphs as well as their humble and changing circumstances.
I’m sure he is more fascinated by the people he chooses to photograph than in the photographs themselves. Something tells me he has very little interest in cameras, only what they frame and who they capture.
For many of his photo stories he decided, either at the time or many years later, to make audio interviews with his subjects and has since brought the two mediums together in Vimeo experiences for us to observe. A commitment of time and sympathy that may be difficult to imagine in our fast-moving, digitised and culturally segregated world.
Please look him up if you’ve not heard of him as he’s created some extraordinary and compassionate work. If you can find some time to follow the links below I’m sure you will be compelled, like I was, to discover more. I think you’ll agree that there are many beautiful moments and stories here, and Meadows so much wants you and me to know a little of the people he finds inspiring.
Work by Daniel Meadows
Photography by Daniel Meadows. Image of Daniel with his Photo Bus by Paddy Summerfield
Daniel Meadows nominated Craig Atkinson of Café Royal Books
Craig’s series of editions, Café Royal Books (a new one issued every week), is doing more to preserve the work of late 20th century documentary photographers — and to bring it before new audiences — than all our national institutions put together. It’s a remarkable endeavour which has been going for six years, remains on-going and shows no sign of letting up. Recently, he gave us four sets of pictures by the late Shirley Baker. And, in the interest of full disclosure, yes he has published 11 zines of my work, eight of them in a box set (2015)... the experience of which gave me a whole lot of new reasons to be inspired.
Photo of Daniel taken by his 3-year-old granddaughter Olive Meadows
Work published by Craig Atkinson:
Craig Atkinson nominated David Hurn, British documentary photographer and member of Magnum Photos
I admire his plain English approach. “Being a doer, not a talker”, and, “the most important thing for a photographer is comfortable shoes”, for example. His book with Bill Jay, On Being a Photographer, should be read by anyone even remotely interested in the subject. He set up one of the most important documentary photography courses there is — Newport, and wanted to teach without the politics of education interfering. When I spoke to him last he told me about what he’s doing now — a ‘project’ on Tintern, the village he lives in. Covering local events, documenting the place and people. He’s a good bloke, takes no messing and very supportive.
Work by David Hurn. Image of David by his friend Bill Jay.
David Hurn* nominated writer and art critic Laura Freeman
The most inspiring person I have heard lately is called Laura Freeman. She was a recent guest on BBC’s 'Start The Week' program - 'Searching for happiness'. She has just written a book called The Writing Cure. At the classic age of 13 she started on the path of anorexia.
Later she gave herself the task/pleasure of reading all the books of Charles Dickens. She got immersed in the fact that Dickens wrote so positively about food as comfort, the warm smell of kitchens etc. He also wrote of the lack of food as being evil. It helped reset Laura’s way of thinking. She then read First World War writers noticing the positive way they wrote about chocolate and biscuits, eating in the trenches without having self awareness. Later the diaries of Virginia Woolf and her love of food, art, and literature as the things to feast on. Reading lifted Laura’s life, it guided her through an illness. I found her contribution enriching, amusing, and inspiring.
* image of David by Sue Packer
Laura Freeman and her work
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