In the street that I grew up on I often encountered a fictional representation of the real as for five years the police drama The Sweeney was regularly filmed on this and the surrounding streets, wastelands, and in the still existing bomb-sites that dotted this part of West London in the 1970s. On both sides of this street there lived, I presume unknown to the actors and film and lighting crew making their episodes, real police officers and their families in two non-descript post war apartment blocks that ran the whole length of the road. Police and military families inhabit a class of their own, a disciplinary class so to speak. Many were real life detectives and some were in the very real Flying Squad that the program was based upon. I remember looking down on one occasion from my vantage point four floors above at a white van that was noisily revving its engine so that the tires would spin, screeching and producing smoke from burnt rubber on tarmac. Eventually it would tear down the street as it was filmed by cameras loaded with 16mm film-stock which produced in the series a gritty and realistic aesthetic. Over and over again the van sped down the street, repeating the scene until the crew were ready to capture their takes. Later in the year the program would be broadcast and we would eagerly await the scenes that we had witnessed being filmed and in the school-yard the next day some of those scenes would be reenacted again, such was the popularity of the show.
In much of my work I am interested in scenarios of rehearsal and how this relates to both security and insecurity. In the summer of 2001 I photographed Summer Camp at a secret training camp in Eastern Europe that was part of the private military and protection industry. The organisation behind the training was responsible for training an international group of freelance security personnel from whose ranks those who went on to be involved with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the war on terror came from. From the mid 1990's the project Insecurity examined the global phenomenon of privatised global security, utilising this modern hyper-industry as a metaphor for analysing global insecurity. 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. 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 that are installed in many government departments 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 of major terrorist attack in London.
I studied photography at West Surrey College of Art & Design at Farnham and completed my MA at the Royal College of Art in London and a PhD in the Faculty of Art & Design at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.
I have exhibited widely including at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art in Norwich, The National Museum of Photography, Film & Television in Bradford, Open Eye in Liverpool and 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. My 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 and the Focal Press publication Langford’s Basic Photography.
My curatorial projects include Staging Disorder, including an accompanying publication (both with Dr. Esther Teichmann) for the 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 UK, the Arts Council of England and the Australia Council. I am currently Programme Director for Photography at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London and was previously Associate Professor at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and the University of Technology Sydney and was the inaugural Programme Director for Photography, Moving Image & Sound at the University of Brighton.