Andrew Bruce – Tender
“I used to do a lot of cycling, and I would see so many animals dead on the roads. With the cars speeding past me, it made me think about how easy I could of become one of those animals on the roadside- it just made sense to start making work around this. Since then it’s really spiralled out of control, and has become something much more complex and meaningful than my starting point. I still gather all of the animals in my photographs while I’m cycling, I think this is important, it slows me down and gives me time to think. When I find an animal I wrap it up in a sack, put in in my backpack and cycle home where I have a freezer in my room (I have no space anywhere else!) This really means that I can’t escape my work, I can’t stop thinking about it.
I take my photographs on a large 10×8″ view camera and use powerful lights that I haul outside into woodlands at night time. All of my photographs are printed analogue on an optical enlarger – they never go through any digital processing so I can’t do anything to correct them – so they have to be perfect.. Using the large cumbersome camera, and the slow printing process is important to me, as is the quality I gain from using the large format camera. Even when I print my images at life-size, you can see every individual hair on the animal-as if you were there yourself.
Sometimes picking up the animals, when they smell or are in a bad state, can be hard, and the process of collecting, freezing and thawing them out isn’t exactly glamorous. In fact, I’m sure so many people think I’m crazy; but when you see my photographs, I want to forget this part of it and I just want to appreciate the beauty of the animal, and how sad it is that it’s in this state.
In my photographs I want to elevate the animals, to record the beautiful colours of their fur or feathers. In my last series I did this literally, taking photographs of myself holding them, embracing them. After I have photographed the animals, I bury them. It’s an act of respect, of reverence.
We are so detached from nature, and we are so detached from the idea of our own mortality -my work explores the area where these two subjects collide.
‘tender’ is a meditation upon life, death and our increasingly detached relationship to nature.
It is an act of compassion.
By embracing the animal, I try to embrace the inevitability of death itself.