Ian Howorth

Book Review Ian Howorth – A Country Kind of Silence

© Ian Howorth

“…’A Country Kind of Silence’ continues my internal exploration of feelings surrounding my sense of identity. A sense where belonging isn’t as alien as it is misunderstood”.


─── by Josh Bright, June 22, 2023

Published by Setanta, A Country Kind of Silence, the third monograph from English-based photographer, Ian Howorth, is a compelling visual exploration of identity and belonging.

Photo of coke bottle on table by Ian Howorth, from A Country Kind of Silence


Born in Peru, his mother’s homeland, Howorth moved frequently as a child, living in nine different homes across three different countries. He visited England, his father’s birthplace, on multiple occasions, before eventually, aged 16, settling in Brighton, where he has lived ever since. 

Photo by Ian Howorth of a hotel lobby


The concept of ‘Englishness’ has always been somewhat nebulous, and Howorth’s work highlights the ways in which it is often misunderstood. This project is one born from the sense of disquiet that Howorth felt about his own identity, one that will no doubt resonate with many readers.

Photo by Ian Howorth of caravans


“Feelings of unease and uncertainty have always been with me and many of these are tied to the things that I have seen around me change; things that have also signalled a change in myself as times gone by.”

Portrait photography by Ian Howorth. 2 boys on a motorcycle
Photography by Ian Howorth. factory.


Howorth captures quotidian scenes, faded pastel facades, windswept beaches, and quiet corners of anonymous English homes, with a sensitivity and artistry that renders them utterly compelling. Together these subtle minutiae collectively capture the complexities of life in small-town England, telling a story of people and place that is both nuanced and fascinating.

His talents are beautifully showcased through his use of analog format, which perfectly complements his style of photography, engendering images with a unique, timeless quality, and enhancing his ability to convey emotion and atmosphere.

Color photography by Ian Howorth of a table with empty plates in a fish and chip shop.


“I often think of my relationship to the images I shot, both the ones that were selected and the ones that were not, and how they each help me understand the place I’m in.”

Portrait photography by Ian Howorth. Man with an afro from behind
Color photography by Ian Howorth. Ice cream van and children in a field


His images immediately evoke the work of the early color masters like Eggleston, Shore, and Meyerowtiz, both in terms of subject matter and in the ability to render everyday scenes into something truly captivating. What is also particularly notable is how, at times, the faded relics, bear a striking resemblance to those found in the American West, demonstrating the profound influence that England’s transatlantic cousin has on the country’s identity.

It further speaks to the enigmatic nature, of England, for, as Howorth reminds us, the man-made landscape is entirely our own creation, and the things we build and destroy reflect our values and our history.


A Country Kind of Silence
is an engaging and visually captivating book that encourages readers to reflect on their own sense of place and belonging. Against the backdrop of a politically charged climate in the UK, where discussions around British identity, and specifically English identity, are highly polarized, it feels particularly timely, providing a fresh and insightful perspective on the complexities of selfhood through a unique, perceptive, gaze.

 

All images © Ian Howorth

A Country Kind of Silence if published by Setanta