20 Questions to the Artist/Photographer Simon Crofts. (www.simoncroftsphoto.com)
1: Who are you?
I’m Simon Crofts, a photographer I’ve just published a book, Expectations, a series of what I think of as visual poems about Ukraine.
2: What is your background?
I lived in Russian and Poland for 13 years, now I’ve returned to my native Edinburgh. My wife is Polish photographer Sylwia Kowalczyk.
3: Where were you born?
4: Explain your work in up to 40 words.
My book is about Ukraine, and it’s about memory of the past and aspirations for the future, personal experiences and emotions. It looks at symbolism in landscapes or object or people, echoes from literature and music.
5: How has your practice changed over time?
Recently I’ve been doing a lot more editorial work for magazines. Finishing my book has been a bit like relieving myself – given my brain space so that at last I can think of other things.
6: Do you have a favourite medium to work in?
7: Do you pursue any themes? If so what?
Any theme that seems to me important at any moment. What I want to get away from in my own work is literal representations in photojournalism. Classic photojournalism is wonderful and noble, but it isn’t what I want to do. I’m interested in the ability of photography to express subtle emotions and complex ideas that other media can’t.
8: What other jobs have you done/do you do other than being an artist?
A long time ago I was a lawyer, mostly in Russia.
9: What research do you do for your art?
I read literature, history and listen to music. Mostly Russian and Ukrainian.
10: What makes you angry?
People not understanding or valuing photography. It has been and still is one of the most important art forms of our age. In Scotland at least, it has been almost totally ignored by the establishment. It’s not only the art establishment, the public on the whole know almost nothing about contemporary photography because they have had almost no exposure to it. In Poland (where I lived before here), or in France or in the US photography is huge and is in most people’s consciousness far more.
11: What is your favourite colour?
All of them. A large part of my life is spent analysing colours, histograms, the tints in each tone, it becomes obsessive, and you start to see the slightest colour cast in the world about you. I couldn’t have a favourite because they all have their unique characteristics. It’s a bit like having six children, to have a favourite would be odious.
12: What is your favourite piece that you have produced?
My Expectations book. http://www.inthelandofproject.com
13: What music/album are you currently listening to?
5Nizza – Ukrainian rap
14: What makes you happy?
My wife, my children. Of course. Clients buying prints. When people actually ‘get’ the book, in the sense of understand it. But come to think of it, also in the sense of buying it, which amazes and gratifies me each time it happens.
15: What are your favourite films?
I find Kieslowski films delicious, multi-layered, like a three course meal. Starting with Colours (Red, White and Blue).
16: Favourite place?
Krakow. Partly because it’s a wonderful place, and partly because of the happy associations that it has for me.
17: One or more artists you like?
So many contemporary photographers – I’m not sure if I have favourites, but if I have to pick out someone, I might mention Hannah Starkey. Also Rafal Milach. Best of all is my wife, Sylwia Kowalczyk, of course I’m biased, but she is a true artist above anyone I know of.
18: What is your favourite word?
(= things that are worth seeing)
It just sounds nice when you say it. Something like Dos-to-pree-me-chat-ye-l’nostee
19: Professionally what is your goal?
(Much) improved profitability
20: What would your dream commission be?
That would probably to be funded to carry on with my next project, which I have already done quite a bit for, which is about the Russian ballet tradition in Eastern Europe.