In Conversation With: Alexander Mourant

SIGH Journal: Can you tell me about the key concerns that drive your practice, and how you first became interested in them?

Alexander Mourant: My current work has its roots in an extensive editorial project called Cairo to Cape Town: Africa’s Plastic Footprint. Over the five month period we travelled in a 4x4 documenting plastic litter, wastelands, rivers, lakes, beach pollution, individuals and communities. I created my Odyssey series, displayed here, from a tight edit of personal photographs shot on Mamiya 7ii. Everything I’ve been working on for the last few years stems from the resonance of these photographs. My practice has been developing, shifting and adapting for the last few years. It’s interesting how influence and certain ideas can entertain and drive your curiosity, then perhaps, they momentarily disappear, and new ideas start to float around. My practice is currently concerned with experience, disseminating how we experience place and space.

SIGH Journal: How would you say your background has shaped your photographic approach?

Alexander Mourant: I come from a long established farming family in Jersey. My childhood was spent exploring, making dens, being outside in the countryside and experiencing that simple childhood curiosity. On reflection, I can now see how this rural upbringing has influenced my photographic sensibility.

SIGH Journal: What drew you to the medium of film photography?

Alexander Mourant: I guess this came from research, knowing which work I respected and what I aspired to. I would read any literature I could find on a certain artist, look at their monographs, and learn how they think and work. Generally, the one constant relationship they had was film photography. It seemed like there lay a great revelation in the process, technically, the prowess of the image, and personally, the benefit of time, time was needed to consider, to understand why you are making pictures. I knew the work I loved at that particular time, for example with the Odyssey project, I kept a black journal with printed images from my favourite artists. I would refer back to these images throughout my travels. The collection included Pieter Hugo, Jason Larkin, Paul Strand, Denis Dailleux, Alec Soth and Gregory Halpern.

SIGH Journal: What are your influences? Both photographic and non-photographic?

Alexander Mourant: My influences are very broad, but can be loosely situated to literature and fine-art. My influence for Odyssey were the artists I just mentioned and literature. En route, I continually consumed books; Thoreau, Bach, Conrad, Blixen, Gallmann and Hemingway. All of these authors engaged and helped me contemplate the ever shifting cultural and geographical landscape we encountered. I like being in a fascinating remote place that is described in the book you're currently reading. There’s a synthesis of ideas, or feeling, between author and place.

“In the afternoon they came unto a land In which it seemed always afternoon.
All round the coast the languid air did swoon, Breathing like one that hath a weary dream.”

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Lotos-Eaters. In ‘I Dreamed Of Africa’ by Kuki Gallmann.

It was the essence of Africa which I found in these books, and for me, in my pictures.

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