Interview with BPF16 exhibitor Martin Seeds

2 October 2016
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(image: Assembly vi by Martin Seeds, 2016)

For his Brighton Photo Fringe exhibition at The Regency Town House Martin Seeds exhibits a series of works taken on the grounds of the Stormont Estate, the home of the Northern Ireland assembly. We ask him a few questions about this project and what photography means to him..

Can you tell us a little about your earliest experiences with photography and what drew you to the medium? What images inspired you at that time?

While I was growing up my father always had still and cine cameras around. I remember he had a Polaroid Swinger, a 6x9 Coronet and Super8 film camera –I think he was more interested in the gadgetry than image making. A while back he gave me the Coronet, the Super8 and my Grandfather’s tin box camera. As a teenager I was always involved in outdoor activities like rock climbing and hill walking, which was a way to stay clear of the violence on the streets of Belfast.  My friends would take their cameras on our outdoor trips so I joined in - my first camera, an East German made 35mm  Praktica.  On my trips to the mountains I would take my Praktica and make pictures of my friends, the things we got up to and the occasional landscape.  It was all a bit of a fantasy escape from the real issues that were going on around me in Northern Ireland at the time.

How has your relationship with photography evolved since then?

I came to London in the mid 1980s and I focused on my I.T career. I did not make any photographs for decades until I fell in with some artists and started going to a lot of art exhibitions. The artwork that made me think differently about photography was Jens F by Collier Schorr (2002). Since then I started collecting photographs, visiting more galleries and eventually I took some night classes and began developing and printing my own photographs. In 2008 I took a break from my I.T career and studied for a BA in Photography. The course improved my image making skills and opened up my eyes to contemporary photographic practices. I have always been interested in technology and although I don’t make work about technology I like to know how to manipulate it to reinforce some idea or concept within my work. I recently completed my Masters in Photography at the University of Brighton which helped me further refine my practice interests and gave me time to develop ideas and create new work.

Where do you find inspiration? How do you find your ideas?

I visit Northern Ireland a lot and draw on the experiences from my visits. It is important for me to keep abreast of current news events and I regularly visit exhibitions, attend artist talks and also seminars on Irish studies, technology and the arts. I like to read and research from photography and academic journals, articles related to my practice interests (post conflict Ireland, identity, nationalism vs tribalism).

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