In Focus: Andy Hood

We’ve spoke to photographer Andy Hood about his work and his snowballing success since being crowned an Outside In Award Winner in 2007.

I first became interested in photography when I was about six. My Godfather bought me a little 110 camera and I was fascinated with looking through the viewfinder. Everything seemed different as if the world had become clearer. When I was 13, my dad got me my first SLR camera and I taught myself how to use it and how to control exposures. Most of my photos then were of landscapes, plants and nature; I also gained a reputation in my family for taking some quite horrendous candid shots!

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I’m interested in the space that’s around me, particularly inside my home. I use lots of multiple exposures to create more space and extra dimensions. The images become fractured and merge into another state of consciousness. I include myself in my work; I like being part of these unseen worlds. It’s like the extra dimensions that have to exist in string theory to make it work. It feels like I am unravelling these spaces. I have to create my photographs with the camera – constructing them in Photoshop doesn’t work for me – so if it takes a while to get the shot so be it. l experiment a lot, using my camera like a sketch pad.

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I heard about Outside In though Creative Response. I was at college at the time doing a fine art photography course and they suggested I submit a photograph to the Outside In exhibition. So I did and won! It was a great experience and having my own exhibition at the end was nerve racking at the time, but real confidence booster. I remember I put in a series of photos I took inside a train at twilight. You could see the people reflected in the window and in the train plus the landscape outside. These all merged together to create more dimensions.

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After that I kept Outside In offered me the chance to document the Gold Run project, which was a performance by a group of young learning disabled artists from Carousel exploring the reasons why learning disabled athletes were banned from the Paralympics and celebrating the fact they had been let back in again. It was a big project and I had not really attempted documentary photography before so I was a bit apprehensive, but the Carousel performers were so welcoming and great to be around I soon lost any nerves about the project and started getting some good images. It was great to have the freedom to watch and photograph the project from start to finish. I still take photos for Carousel today. I really like what they do and the Blue Camel Club they run in Brighton is a great night out. I’ve been doing all sorts of little jobs for Outside In from photographing private views to various groups that they run, to taking pics of artists at home with their work and in their studios.

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At the moment I’m working on the Graylingwell Heritage Project which is researching the real life stories and experiences from anyone involved with the Graylingwell psychiatric hospital in Chichester. Having spent some 20 odd years in and out of the place it felt like a good fit for me. I’ve seen a few faces from the past. Meeting up with my former Psychiatrist was a laugh and I had to confess that I had the key to the hospital all along (I took it from the office one day) and could leave at any time! His face went white. I explained to him that it was just nice to know I had the keys to the building – I think he saw the funny side!

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As for the future, I’m going the be documenting the work of the Chichester District Community Trust next year which should be fun. I’ll hopefully have more work with Carousel and am open to any other projects that come my way. I really enjoy being involved with Outside In. They keep throwing interesting things my way and I meet all sorts of talented people and artists and from my own perspective Outside In is helping me greatly in taking my work forward.

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Click here for Andy’s Outside In online gallery

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