Biography

 

For five years on the street that I grew up on the police drama The Sweeney was filmed on this and the surrounding streets, wastelands, and in the still existing bomb-sites that peppered this part of West London in the 1970s. On both sides of this street there lived, perhaps unknown to the actors and film and lighting crew making their episodes, real police officers and their families in two non-descript post war blocks of flats that ran the whole length of the road. Many were real life detectives and some were in the very real flying squad that the program was based upon. Police and military families inhabit a class of their own. A disciplinary class and home life was sometimes as tumultuous as anything depicted in the episodes being made.

Looking down from my bedroom four floors above, one day I saw a white van revving its engine so that the tires produced smoke from burnt rubber on tarmac. Over and over again the van sped down the street until the crew were ready to capture their takes, with cameras loaded with 16mm film-stock which produced in the series a gritty and realistic aesthetic. Later in the year the program would be broadcast and we would await the scenes that we had seen being filmed and at school the next day some of those scenes would be reenacted in the playground.

My father trained as a detective and sometimes he would drive me at speed in his police car with sirens blazing. I remember his return from an advanced driving course that he had undertaken and his articulation of a universal law for pursuit - "never accelerate into the unknown". Occasionally he would take me to the zoo or his favourite place, the Imperial War Museum and he would flash his Metropolitan Police warrant card to gain free entry and I would imagine that we were following a lead or shadowing a suspect.

Much of my work explores scenarios of rehearsal and how this relates to security and insecurity. From the mid 1990's Insecurity examined the global phenomenon of privatised global security, utilising this modern hyper-industry as a metaphor for analysing global insecurity. Summer Camp was photographed in the summer of 2001 at a secret training camp in Eastern Europe that was part of the private military and security industry. The organisation behind it was responsible for training an international group of freelance security personnel. At the end of that summer 9/11 occurred and the private security industry exploded. Kill House is a photographic navigation through a US based military structure used for the training of private military personnel prior to deployment to domestic and foreign conflicts and was photographed in 2005 at the height of the war on terror. Super Border is a series of photographs taken along the route of the then newly opened 300 million euro External Integrated Vigilance System on the southern Andalucian coast in Spain. The inspiration for Bomblast are the safety protection curtains installed in many government departments, including the one I worked in, in the wake of the IRA bombings in London in the 1980's and 1990's and whose continued installation in those spaces reflects the ongoing threat and fear of major terrorist attack. The Colony takes the nightly phenomenon of bat colonies migrating across Australian skies during the time I lived in Sydney to speak about the changed but continual colonial violence in this part of the Pacific at a time of enhanced immigration processes enacted by successive Australian governments.

Exhibitions of my work include East End Academy at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, the V&A touring exhibition Something That I'll Never Really See at Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art in Norwich, Fabula at The National Museum of Photography, Film & Television in Bradford, Observations at Open Eye in Liverpool and Darkside II at Fotomuseum in Winterthur, Switzerland. Since 1999 I have been represented by the London gallery Gimpel Fils and have work held in public and private collections including the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Martin Z. Margulies collection in Miami. Work is featured in published surveys including the Thames and Hudson World of Art series The Photograph as Contemporary Art, 100 European Photographers, EXIT, Madrid, the Focal Press publication Langford’s Basic Photography and magazines and journals such as Source and Portfolio.

Curatorial projects include Staging Disorder, including an accompanying publication (both with artist Esther Teichmann) for University of the Arts London and Infraliminal for Stills Gallery in Edinburgh.

I have been the recipient of awards from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Arts Council of England and the Australia Council. I am head of Photography at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London and was previously head of Photography at the National Art School in Sydney and Associate Professor at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and the University of Technology Sydney and Programme Director for Photography, Moving Image & Sound at the University of Brighton.

I studied undergraduate photography at the Polytechnic of Central London and at West Surrey College of Art & Design, Farnham and completed an MA at the Royal College of Art and a PhD in the Faculty of Art & Design at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.