Text by Gerry Badger
Conversation with David Campany
This book means a lot to me – because of the pictures, because of the special personality that Peter Fraser is for me and because of the circumstances that led to this publication.
In the 1970s, Peter Fraser studied photography at the Manchester Polytechnic in England, and began to work in colour early. The first exhibition with his colour photographs dates back to the year 1982. At the same time, other British photographers began photographing in colour, including Martin Parr, Paul Graham, and Peter Mitchell, who, although they were pushing the boundaries of the medium, always followed a documentary approach. Not Peter Fraser’s cup of tea. But it took a two-month visit to William Eggleston in Memphis to give him certainty and the confidence to be a colour photographer and cut his own path.
That’s what he did. From 1983 to 1987 he photographed the series ›Twelve Day Journey‹, ›The Valleys Project‹, ›Everyday Icons‹ and ›Towards an Absolute Zero‹. They were exhibited and led to the publication of the original version of the book ›Two Blue Buckets‹ in 1988.
Freed from the feeling of having to make a defined statement with pictures, convinced by the idea that there is no hierarchical order between great and small things and inspired by the thought that our unconscious mind can apprehend much more than our everyday consciousness, he could photograph everything – and did it. A pile of stones, a cut flower in a bottle, a red suitcase in the luggage rack, cows on the meadow, a biscuit box, a light bulb, or just two blue buckets. Certainly the pictures are also very, very good in formal and technical respects, especially with regard to the handling of colour. But that is not the point. The intensity of the dialogue is decisive. Here are the things that are simply there, on the other hand the photographer, who asks beyond the practical use and value of things: Why?. Why are you here right now, why do you look like you look, and what does that have to do with me and the rest of the universe?
In ›The Valleys Project‹ we also see how much his personal history was informing his perception and this dialogue. The motifs are also everyday here: a staircase, balloons, a car, and they glow with pain, distress and also excitement.
To deal with this work again after 30 years was a great and highly emotional experience for everybody involved. Alan Ward, the designer of the first edition 30 years ago, also took care for the ›Director´s Cut‹ of ›Two Blue Buckets‹ in a very thoughtful way. Gerry Badger, who has written frequently about Peter Fraser’s work before, has contributed a new essay and David Campany sat down with Peter Fraser for a conversation that is also included in this magnificent new book.