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Influx interview-photographer julia fullerton-batten

August 3, 2006

Julia Fullerton-Batten currently has an exhibition “Pictures of Health” at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Another of her projects, “Teenage Stories”, was recently shown at the Charing-X Gallery, also in London. Fullerton-Batten has been a regular finalist in both the John Kobal Award and the Schweppes Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery.

Influx caught up with Julia to talk about her background and inspirations.

Where did you study photography?

Berkshire College of Art & Design, but I gained most of my experience through assisting for five years.

For the “Teenage Stories” project (can be seen on Julia’s site) what was it you were trying to convey in the images?

The idea was to create pictures that reflect my own meandering childhood memories of my sisters and me growing up in Pennsylvania and then in rural Germany. When I think back to how the three of us spent our time drifting through life I realize that the older we get the harder it is to spend time this way, every day seems to have an agenda, a set of objectives that must be achieved.

The starting point for most of these pictures were observations I made of myself, or my sisters, during these wonderful years.

I wanted to capture something of this “child-like ability” to get lost in dreams and fantasies in these pictures.

As soon as I saw the first of the miniature village I knew it was the perfect backdrop for this series. The strangeness of these environments perfectly echoes the strangeness I feel when I raid my own memories looking for events that I can turn into pictures.

However it often leaves me wondering whether I’m glamorizing my own childhood and if so then why? Recently I went back to our family home in Pennsylvania, the first visit since we left in 1980. It didn’t seem possible that my beautiful childhood memories had been born in this bland suburban wasteland.

The girls I photograph in these miniature villages interact with them much like children interact with their real surroundings, living inside their own dreams and fantasies rather than living in a specific house on a specific street. In their minds they can be giants moving through our world whilst always remaining separate to it, cocooned in their own dream like existence.

Which contemporary photographers have influenced you?

Jeff Wall, Guy Bourdin, Garry Winogrand, Bill Henson, Susan Paulsen, Huger Foote

How did the Pictures of Health project come about?

I have had work hanging in the National Portrait Gallery on and off for some time now due to the Schweppes Awards.

How did you persuade your subjects (in Picture of Health) that a touch of humor was important?

I didn’t persuade them, but just asked them to stand in certain positions and behave in certain ways.

What’s your next project?

I have a few that need finalizing… One is on consumerism.

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