In Conversation with Max Houghton by
The Little Black Gallery
starring JULIAN LENNON
Max Houghton:Was it nerve-wracking to have relatively ‘early’ work as a photographer on show at a New York Gallery, and have so much attention at the outset of this career? What I mean is you are famous for your music – and of course your family – so you can’t exactly hide?
Julian Lennon:Everyone, including Press were invited… No question there were nerves, nobody really wants to be judged. I feared I was not going to be taken seriously… But fortunately I was more than pleasantly surprised…
MH:In the show at the Morrison Hotel Gallery, you paired your landscape photographs with images of your brother Sean in concert. Could you describe the artistic connection you made between these two bodies of work?
JL:There was no Artistic connection between the two. Sean was only a few images, compared to the behind the scenes U2 work… I basically, as a first show, wanted people to see that I was capable of working with more than one style of subject matter…
MH:You also take pictures of other musician friends like the band U2. Such intimate images are always going to be popular. When you decided to exhibit your landscapes, did you wonder who your audience might be, or do you take pictures mainly for yourself?
JL:In my case, I’ve only ever worked with the Art at the forefront of my mind… It’s only ever been about the Art, musically or otherwise… How can one gauge who your audience is going to be?
MH:Do you see a connection between photography and music, in terms of an evocation of emotion?
JL:Of Course. You’re trying to capture a moment in time, an emotion in time…
MH:You seem particularly well-placed to make an artistic installation using your own music and your still images. Is this something that might interest you or do you prefer to keep the two disciplines separate (you have said in the past that photography is something that can be just yours)?
JL:For the most part, I keep them separate, but they will always entwine, because the Art, whatever it is, is coming from One Artist…
MH:Perhaps the most famous cloud-photographer was Stieglitz. In his later, most experimental, cloud photographs, which he called Equivalents, he left no reference points – no horizon, no buildings etc – so that form was the only thing left. The New York Times art critic Andy Grundberg said that emotion could reside solely in form and not in the specifics of time and place. I wonder if this chimes with your thoughts in your own most abstract imagery?
JL:What I see or hear in what I do, is in principle, quite specific to my own Life experiences, therefore I leave what others may think, for others to dwell upon…
MH:Your photographs have been described as melancholy. Would you describe yourself in that way? Is there a sweetness in the condition or is it bleak?
JL:Pure beautiful clouds, suffused with the colours of the rainbow, are far from bleak. As with so many things, my viewers’ reaction to my work is affected by their own perspective – in every sense!
MH:Your humanitarian and environmental charity The White Feather Foundation has worked with Nick Danziger, who photographed eight children in eight countries to bring awareness to their specific needs and issues. Would you consider working in a documentary photographic style in the future, or will you stay with fine art?
JL:I am very proud of this collection that will show at the Little Black Gallery but I don’t allow my creativity to be held back by staying within certain styles or genres. My work encompasses landscapes, cityscapes, friends and family and I have no doubt that the work will continue to evolve and morph in terms of approach, content and inspiration; that’s what is important in Art.
MH:Who are your photographic influences past or present? Are there any artists with whom you’d like to feature in a group show?
JL:I’m still learning about other photographic artists… Early Daze…
Max Houghton, Senior Lecturer in Photography at Westminster University, is the Editorial Consultant for The Little Black Gallery. A former co-editor of Foto8 Magazine, she now writes regularly about photographs for the international press including FOAM, Black & White Magazine and The New Humanist. She has conducted public talks and lectures on photography at Sotheby's Institute, The Frontline Club, LSE and the Royal Institution and curated exhibitions in Brighton and New York.