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August - Nicholas Sinclair.

Nicholas Sinclair was born in London in 1954 and started working as a photographer in 1982. His work has been widely exhibited and published in Britain and Europe and three books of his work have been published - The Chameleon Body ( 1996 ), Portraits of Artists (2000 ) and Crossing the Water ( 2002 ). Sinclair works principally as a portrait photographer with a strong interest in identity and the idea of evolving, shifting and multiple identities.

“We’re all vulnerable and fragile, in both body and mind. As a portrait photographer, I’m more interested in reflecting this susceptibility rather than reproducing the facade that people often present in front of the camera. I strive to depict people’s identities, to show how they can develop, change, and sometimes be divided. To this end I’m happy to work with people that have chosen a different or an alternative path through life. My first work on this theme was based on the European Circus in Paris and London at the beginning of the 1980s. The Circus is a place where the transgressive and the transfigurative become acceptable, where the identity and gender of the performers can shift and where people,who in other circumstances would be considered misfits, are given a voice. I further developed the theme of shifting identities in the 1990s with The Chameleon Body project, which resulted in my first book.”

Like many photographers, Nicholas Sinclair has shot portraits of actors and artists in his efforts to get behind the masks we present to those around us. But he also chose to confront his own susceptibility with the skinlessness that hides under the mask of the fetishist.

 “I have probably been influenced more by painters than by other photographers. The cinema has also been important to me and I would say that Fellini and Bergman have had at least as much influence on my work as Irving Penn or Paul Strand. I am also very interested in Diane Arbus. For me she stands alone in photography because of her psychological insight as a portrait photographer. 

I look at her work frequently and I still don’t know how she achieved some of those pictures. I admire Lee Friedlander very much too, particularly his early work and among today’s photographers I rate Peter Lindbergh for his relaxed way of working.”

Sinclair was born in London in 1954. He studied Fine Art at the university of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne between 1973 and 1976 before he became a photographer in 1982. He is the kind of photographer to whom the camera is like the instrument is to a musician or the brush and palette to a painter. “I bought my first Hasselblad in 1985, three years after starting my career as a photographer, and it is the most fluent and beautifully crafted camera I have ever used. It enables me to visualize the image in a way I have never achieved with any other camera. I use three lenses; a Zeiss Distagon 50 mm, a Planar 80 mm and a Sonnar 150 mm with extension tubes, three backs and a Polaroid back.”

As an experienced photographer and after having published a series of books he is now using his experience to help others realize their projects. ”I am now editing two books on other artists which is a new departure for me. The first is on the work of John Holloway, an outstanding landscape photographer who works from the air. His work should have been published years ago and I hope that this book will begin the long overdue process of bringing his work to a wider audience. The second book, which I am working on with the art critic Ian Jeffrey, is on the Welsh landscape and portrait painter Kyffin Williams and his long career. This book will be published in May 2004, after nearly eight years of research work. I have plans for several other projects, but that work is still in its infancy and so will have to keep them under my hat for the time being.”

More information about Nicolas Sinclair you can be found on his website.

Kerstin Fiedler/Sören Gunnarsson