From a 1971 protest against Britain joining the European Economic Community, to the UK miners’ strike of the mid-1980s, and current debates surrounding Brexit and the Irish border, each of Theo Simpson’s works, currently exhibited at Jerwood Arts in London, employs social, political and economic impulses as a starting point to push the boundaries of photography and its role in communication.
“Work that interests me is work that doesn’t fit comfortably into any particular medium,” Simpson explains, “behind that is thinking about how materials, techniques and processes also have a language and can be brought into the conversation.” Completed with the grant awarded by the Jerwood/Photoworks Awards, themes and ideas tie Simpson’s work together, but each piece is distinct with the subject and environment informing the materials he uses and how he constructs the work.
The pieces incorporate various photographic, printmaking and engineering techniques, but the underlying material in many of Simpson’s works is steel. “To me steel is the defining material of our age, everything in civilisation relies on it,” he says, explaining that he prefers to use recognisable materials, such as steel and coal, to place his work in a time and place. “The way I see my work is a lot like how you make steel, you take raw materials from the earth and you intensity them in different ways,” he says. “What I’m doing with photography is taking the bare bones of the subject and reimagining it.”
Theo Simpson is currently exhibiting his work at Jerwood Arts, London.