From The Photographer:
Artist's Homes


We see a lot of interior photography at B&W and are certainly drawn to cooler, sleeker, uncluttered spaces; so it comes as a bit of a surprise how much we are enjoying the series of photographs that UK-based Tom Harford-Thompson has made of the homes of his rambling network of artists and creatives. While one might categorize these as interiors they follow none of the precepts of what we typically see (and publish).

No styling, no cleaning up, no perspective control, no post production and yet the way in which the spaces have acquired their look after years of an artist working and living there almost lends them a truly staged quality.

Jonny Hannah (p.31)
"Daniel" (p.211)

The project evolved organically over four years with one shoot leading to another, thanks to word of mouth within the community. Tom’s reticence in imposing order lets the artists’ live on the page and results in a coffee table book that belies it’s very purpose of creating an orderly collection.

Peter Hall - Opposite the house are various farm buildings that date from the 1960s. Part of the barn has been divided up and is used as artists' studios, one of which is used by Peter's daughter, Kate, who work as an interior designer and is also an accomplished sculptor.
Viv & Ben English - In the conservatory is this circular rattan chair and matching side table, both from the 1960s. The walls at the back of the house are filled with hay— an exciting and ecological idea at the time the house was built, but nearly 80 years later they have become infested with creatures and insects.

Brick & Wonder: The vignettes feel decidedly unstyled and framed informally. How do you resist the urge to get more formal like so much architectural photography is?

Tom Harford-Thompson: The whole book has not seen a stylist. I am anti stylists as I want something real and lived in. I find most interiors and architectural photography too cold and impersonal so I was not tempted to shoot like that..!

BW: 'Interiors' is one of those irresistible genres that we seem to consume a great deal of, and you mention that so much of them seem un-lived-in. Are these images an antidote that, almost more like portraits?

TH-T: I like interiors that have formed organically and over a period of time. You get a patina of use that cannot be copied. I love the interiors of prewar cars that have been used and abused. This look cannot be replicated and I think the same is true of people’s houses, workshops or studios.

Mark Wilson - At first, Rockaway does resemble a junkyard, but on closer inspection, it is revealed to be a hive of industry with many companies working from business units that Mark built and then let. He uses the huge barn as a breakers' yard, the core business at Rockaway. On the day I arrived, there were around 10 Tesco delivery vans, all waiting to be dismantled. "The yard is my canvas," Mark says, "and the forklift my paintbrush."
Alison Morris - “Finds” cover the couple's bedroom walls. They used to trawl auction houses for their treasures, but since having the shop, have found people come to them. Nothing is sacred: their house acts as a holding bay for things that may, eventually, move into the shop once space is available. When I visited Endlings, someone came in with several dusty portfolios, after clearing out their father’s house and had found some of his drawings and paintings from his time at St Martins School of Art in the 1950s. Alison and Paul are helping to preserve works of art that would otherwise have been lost forever.

BW: How did the artists and other subjects feel about you wandering their spaces? Was there any resistance or shyness and did you ever feel like you were too intimate?

TH-T: I think most people’s inclination was to try and tidy up but I managed to dissuade them all for doing this. Usually what is cleared out of a picture or photograph is what is most interesting.

Thomas & Angel Zatorski - Thomas and Angel's home contains a lot of taxidermy. But any feeling of morbidness at having stuffed animals about the place is lightened by the sense of theatricality found throughout the boat, as evidenced by the top hat and military jacket that Thomas is fond of wearing at the couple's artistic salons.
Penny Rimbaud & Gee Vaucher - In the sitting room, the fireplace really is the hub of the house, with a kettle filled with water permanently warming on top of the freestanding wood- burning stove. In the front of the fire is a small child's chair for sitting in while contemplating the flickering flames.

BW: How did you go about finding your subjects? Are they part of your network of creatives or was it more haphazard?

TH-T: The book came about over a four year period. I think that once your subject knows you are serious and relatively competent then they are happy to mention you to other people.

Harford-Thompson's book is available to purchase from Thames and Hudson.

All images© 2018 Tom Harford Thompson