“Anderson shelters, used condoms, buried Victorian tannic acid bottles, discarded ring-pull cans, tarmac, railway engineers in high-viz jackets, men in tracksuits, men in dinner suits.” These are just a few of the things that Daniel Soars considers “the essential signs of England,” in a recent piece on Max Porter’s recently-published novel Lanny. These are the signs that pop up throughout Lanny like old Barbara Cartland paperbacks at a Sunday morning car-boot sale. Soars could also be describing the images and atmospheres compiled in photographer Ian Howorth’s latest collection.
Available now via Setanta Books, Arcadia sees the Peruvian-born – Ian’s father is English, his mother South American – snapper turning his lens on the country that was to become his home.
By the age of 16, Ian had lived in nine house across three countries, eventually settling in the UK. “I think all the textures and experiences had a somewhat dormant effect on me which suddenly became very real in my thirties when I began shooting for Arcadia,” he tells us. Beginning in Brighton, Ian "chose places through a lot of research -– some planned via Google street view based on friends telling me about places, memory, sightings on a train, or just going along the coast and getting off somewhere they ‘felt’ good,” the photographer says.
The resulting book is “a visual representation of what Britain means and feels like to me,” as Ian puts it. His Britain is at once Arcadian – in the sense that it shows us snapshots of a life still rooted slightly in the rural rhythms that our ancestors knew – and not. The meadow is littered with dog shit, the warm beer is too warm, the cricket stumps have been stolen by dead-eyed teens bored out of their skull, and the poor old holy lamb of god has found himself minced into a batch of kebabs for said teens to huff down on later that evening.
Inspired by the likes of Dan Wood, Ian Sarjeant, Robin Friend and Niall McDiarmid – as well as the ever-present Martin Parr, a man we can now comfortably think of as the most influential British photographer of the modern age – Ian shows us that we can always see England anew.