Last week we sat down with photographer and founder of ShowStudio Nick Knight to talk about his latest project, a real-time urban photo exhibition. He shot 14 London locations in one day and shared the images instantly on Twitter. We also obviously had to ask him about his long-time working partner and friend Kate Moss...
What projects are impressing you at the moment?
"I’m interested in urban sculpture – Winston Churchill stood on a pedestal. Those public sculptures are important because they’re supposed to be the epitome of our great works of art – that’s why you have great sculptures which are visible in London. Recently the scultpures aren’t there because they are of note or worth, but because art galleries are expanding the reach of their gallery. I'd like to do scultpures of important powerful women – Lady Gaga, Daphne Guiness, Kate, Naomi. They are of our time. One can like them or loathe them but they are important women. These are the people we care about, but we have to wait until they’ve gone and died and we’ve gone and died before anybody bothers to put a sculpture up. Now Dame Vivienne Westwood – she should be standing on a plynthe."
What is it about Kate Moss that makes us still so fascinated?
"She sums up a lot of people’s generation, mood, aspiration. They feel a kinship to her and love of her, what she does, what she stands for. In the way Marilyn Monroe summed up the 1950s. Kate Moss clearly defines our time, so is important in that way. Anybody in the public eye is controversial.. There’s always more than one opinion about people, but that doesn’t mean we should have an artistic expression of these people in public spaces. Kate Moss is incredibly important to a whole bunch of people – she’s been working for 20 years at the top. The girl deserves a knighthood for what she’s done to be honest.
What's it like to have worked with Kate for so long?
"It’s a relationship and a friendship – I like her a lot. She’s an incredibly good model. If you compare Kate to a Hollywood blockbuster – the reach of a model like Kate Moss is just as big and important as a Hollywood blockbuster. It is very very rare to find a talent like Kate."
Kate Moss and a Nick Knight piece [Getty]
You've shot several projects on an iPhone, why does this interest you?
"I’m not interested in what equipment I use any more than you’re interested in what you’re recording this on. The equipment is not a very interesting topic it’s just a means to an end. The interesting thing is that I can publish it instantly.
I like that pressure. You can’t always be sure you’ll get a good photograph, great photograph or decent photograph but you get what you get and you send what you send. I like the reality of that pressure. I hate the idea that people think photographers are artists and can do it easily. It isn’t, it’s really hard. Failure is an important part of what we do – the idea that you don’t have the ability to re-shoot. It’s very very basic image making."
Favourite moment from the live shoot?
"The most lovely thing seeing was a young couple in love walking through the fountains on a hot summer’s evening. It was really sweet and a human thing. The architecture of it all – all of that is fantastic – but when you see teenagers holding hands in the fountain having fun it blows everything else away. My favourite thing is the people. Walking around Oxford Circus and seeing people trying to get on the tubes and everything standing still – a huge mass of people trying to go home from work is impressive because you realize how small our lives are and how big the world is."
Where would you recommend everyone visiting London should go?
"Everybody is different. Someone will want to go to London zoo, but personally I want to go to the Westway. I wouldn’t want to send you to somewhere if I knew nothing about you, because I wouldn’t know where to send you. The places I photographed are my favourite – but would everyone want to go look at the railway tracks?"
Which shoots that you've done in London stand out as particuarly special?
"I am normally a studio photographer, but it’s not where I started. My first publication was a book called Skinhead in 1979. It was taken under the Westway when I started aged 18, approaching people in the street and photographing them and befriending and going out with them. That’s the first thing I ever did in photography – taking pictures of skin heads - so that was the most important thing."
Nick Knight has collaborated with American Express on his first real-time photography exhibition on Twitter to inspire people to realise the potential of their city. See the images in the gallery below...