“…’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”.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
“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.”
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