What themes do you use in your photography?
I have been using the symbolic nature of 16th century Vanitas and 17th century Spanish bodegón still life painting as a visual theme for a while now. Although I am more influenced by fairy tales and literary narrative structures. All my pictures have a story inside them – if you can take the time to work it out.
Your images use complex symbolism, some derived from an historical context but also contemporary themes. I wonder do you begin your work with a story or an object? How does the work begin and how does the symbolism grow?
I’m not answering this one as my processes are secret and hidden (not least from myself).
The images you make are intimate, all still life is, but even so would you agree there’s an autobiographical element in your work, and is it intentional?
It is quite deliberate. The act of choosing the objects is a personal one and like all choices, people make they are influenced by the subconscious and although one may feel there is intentionality – I would question the degree.
You often make short films from your still life, and are a professional film maker, how do you see the influence of moving image in your still images?
Still, moving…what’s the actual difference?
What artists influenced your practice?
None. But I am fond of Goya, Velasquez, Dadd, and Kandinsky – did you mean painters? As for photographers I like Eggleston, Lorretta Lux and Kodulka. There’s more but these popped into my head as I wrote.
What else inspires you?
Inspiration is a difficult concept to define, or to find. I can’t say I am inspired by anything particularly, perhaps I am inspired by nothing – can one be inspired by an absence of inspiration?
What are you working on now?
I am continuing my still life work and incorporating people into the works. I am also working on a series of narrative figurative photographs… very slowly though.
Richard Butchins is an award-winning filmmaker and artist, using his own experience as a disabled person to make work which addresses disability through mainstream television documentary in both arts and current affairs, and in his personal art practice.