• Free Ground
  • Free Ground
  • Free Ground
Free Ground
By Trevor Appleson Hardback with dustjacket, 248 pages, full colour, ISBN 1-86154-262-3 268 x 230mm October 2006

A unique publication showcasing Trevor Appleson's two major photographic projects in South Africa; 'Beaches' and 'Uniforms'. Appleson's title Free Ground is the English translation of the Afrikaans word 'Vrygrond', the name of one of the beach locations used for his portable studio portraits. 'Free Ground' references the informal process of locating the portable studio on beaches, in car parks, shantytowns and shipyards. For 'Beaches', each work is a portrait photograph of someone on a beach around Cape Town, South Africa. Appleson rigs up large, black, 'photo-me-booth' style backdrops and invites people to pose at dawn or dusk, when the light is directional and golden. Troupes of beach bums, vendors, gangsters, kids and swimmers alike are all photographed, creating displaced images reminiscent of Christian iconography. Although the subjects are not necessarily connected in any way (other than all being on the beach at a particular time) seen together, these images come to resemble the cast of a Biblical epic. One is left to ponder whether a wider, unarticulated plot line is being acted out off camera. For 'Uniforms', Appleson once again continues to work with his studio on location, but this time chooses to focus on people in uniform. Ship builders, police, fruit packers, school kids, security guards and more were photographed. Appleson has developed a 'film still' type quality to the works, and is interested in the link between the photographic images he produces and old masters' paintings, particularly Mannerist works. The book features essays by Alison Green, a London-based art historian, critic and curator, and Ossian Ward, editor and writer on contemporary art, and formerly editor of Art Review. Born in South Africa, Appleson is a self-taught photographer who now lives and works in London. He has exhibited widely, both in the UK and internationally. In 2002 he had his first solo show at Hales Gallery in London. He has also shown at Artrock (Rockefeller Center) in New York, The Jerwood Foundation (London), and his work is included in several respected public collections. In 2006 Appleson's work will be on display at Galerie S65 in Cologne, at Artbrussels 2006, and at the Evangelos Averoff-Tositsas Foundation in Greece.