Q&A: Phoebe Kiely — They were my landscape


Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? I never consciously thought of myself as living by a philosophy, but I do often try to believe that everything happens for a reason. I falter in believing this sometimes though. What is it that interests you about photography? Its power, its history. It’s so cliched to say the connections it makes between photographer and subject, but it’s true. There is something so important in that bridge. For me, it’s especially this idea of life on paper. I feel like that’s what I’m at least trying to do, I’m never really sure if I’m succeeding at that, but it’s definitely the aim. What is the worst thing about city life? The chaos, but that’s also the best thing at times. What part of the planet would you like to explore? Russia, any part of Russia. Pick a field of science to be an expert within. Chemistry. What moment have you most wished you’d had a camera when you hadn’t? There was a time in Manchester, Piccadilly Gardens. A man, I think he was homeless, he had no shirt but a white sheet. There was something preformative about his movements and the wind that was catching the sheet. But it was mostly a bleak scene. I remember being so frustrated at not having my camera that I couldn’t appreciate what I was seeing. How often do you take other people’s advice? Never. Or at least I can’t remember the last time I did. Describe a personal hell. A life of never-ending failures.  What was the last crime you witnessed? Almost ten years ago, it was only theft. Nothing very interesting. What is the best way to educate yourself? Read and live. What is the next book you want to read? Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex. Ultimate camera? Leica. Most used camera? Hasselblad. What object do you want? Tripod, I seem to have lost mine when I moved out of Manchester. Maybe I should see that as a sign. What object do you need? A desk, a studio, a house. Three things. Always more film and paper. Five things.  Are you satisfied with your level of physical strength? Absolutely not. I damaged my back on my previous job and now I can’t rely on its strength. Are impulses more important than consequences? When it comes to taking photos, yes. In life, maybe not. Which talent would you most like to have? I wish I was talented at writing. What is your plan for the next 24 hours? Meeting an old friend, one I’ve not seen in several years.

They were my landscape by Phoebe Kiely builds a fragmented picture of a place that is at once personal and anonymous. Based in Manchester, Kiely compulsively catalogues her urban and suburban surroundings, drawing attention to prosaic spectacles and passers-by. In her book, the cracked concrete of vernacular architecture, or the flattened feathers of a pigeon lying on a road are granted the same scrutiny as a young man smoking at a bus stop, or a walking mother carrying her young child. Echoing the fragility of everyday life, Kiely’s elusive sequence of black-and-white photographs vacillates between portraits, objects and street scenes. Within this mutable body of ongoing work, she attempts to find a sense of self.

— (source: MACK)

To see more of Phoebe Kiely’s work visit — Website / Instagram.