Review by Paul Anderson •
In his work, Nick Prideaux investigates the quiet moments of life, working to illuminate the “delicate stillness” within them. He employs a Zen-like photographic style, providing a relaxing respite from this weary world. Prideaux’s images are simple and well composed, often containing either a single person or a glimpse of an arm or hand. His models are always in a relaxed pose. A handful of images without human presence are also scattered throughout the book, providing needed visual breaks. All images are slightly soft of focus, have a warm light, and are quiet scenes from daily life. His photographic style does not fit easily into any one genre, combining elements of still life, fashion, and figure photography in an interesting mix.
Two quotes from Prideaux’s artist statement, included with the book, provide insight into his approach to photography and his search for that stillness:
“I approach photography in a mindful way and try to capture fleeting and fragmented scenes as a thread of visual notes. I am interested in exploring the intimate moments of my life. A play with light, colour and the people who I happen to share this stage with.”
“The Camera acts as a way to express my fascination with the present moment and the delicate stillness that sits within it.”
The photographer has chosen to make his models anonymous by obscuring their faces, which allows the viewer to insert him or herself into the moment. The figure images bring to mind the work of Harry Callahan, who photographed his wife Eleanor with a similar sense of detachment and respect.
In one of the strongest images in the book, bands of sunlight coming through window blinds fall across a model. Although this image is clearly a study of shapes and shadows, it could also simply be interpreted as someone taking a quiet afternoon nap.
Another strong image shows a model lying horizontally across a lakeside dock, feet hanging off one side, head over the other. This is something people who have spent time on a lake have done on a summer afternoon, searching for fish at the bottom.
A third image of note is placed towards the back of the book, where a beautifully lit hand is lying on a stylish bed of crumpled sheets. The lighting in this scene recalls the work of the painting masters from the Dutch Golden Age.
Some of the images do not fulfill his stated vision of capturing intimate moments of life. Rather than arising naturally out of everyday experience, these seem contrived. For example, there are two images of a model posing in a field of tall corn, but a cornfield is not a place one usually seeks out for a bit of relaxation. Similarly, there is an arm extended rather unnaturally out of a small dormer window with the hand clutching flowers, but it looks strained.
A curious layout choice is seen in certain places that use full bleed images. In these cases, they are printed on facing pages. In some of these cases the choice of image content is well considered, but in others the choice creates significant visual tension at the gutter where the images meet. This tension is out of character with the overall atmosphere of the rest of the book, and one wonders if these layout choices were intentional.
This small book presents 35 images in a remarkably simple manner. Book construction is an interesting variation on that of a chapbook. There are 12 printed single sheets folded in half to create the book. Instead of a saddle stitch binding, the folded sheets are held in place by a blue elastic cord, which can be seen in one of the attached photos. Small magnetic clasps hold the book closed when not in use.
This book is the eighth in a bimonthly series of publications by Setanta Books. Each edition in the series features the work of a different photographer. This book would appeal to those interested in the use of figure, still life, and fashion photographic techniques to produce Zen-like images that examine the present moment.
Paul Anderson is a photographer/digital artist, working in Hermosa Beach, CA
008 – Nick Prideaux
Photographer: Nick Prideaux, Australian photographer, currently based in Paris, France
Publisher: Setanta Books; © 2021, London
Published in collaboration with Open Doors Gallery, London
Written contributions: Artist statement by the photographer
Text: English, artist statement in English and French.
Stiffcover (chapbook), 21cm x 16cm book with card wraparound cover in an edition of 350, 48 pages (12 folded sheets, 4 pages per sheet).
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