I approached Andy Hughes as part of my plans to interview other photographers working in an environmental context.
Andy is probably best known for his work (since the 90s) to raise awareness about our use of plastic, and has produced books such as Dominant Wave Theory and Gyre: The Plastic Ocean.
I wanted to find out what his thoughts are relating to the use of photography to illustrate environmental/humanitarian situations; if he felt people are more switched on or off by graphic images; if he believed non-documentary pictures can instigate action; what his own ethics are in relation to his photographic footprint; how important is photography in continuing to raise awareness of issues; and where he felt most at home making photographic work.
Although Andy didn’t have the time to respond in full, he did point out that he had just done an interview with Carve magazine that covered much of the questions I had asked – will pop and buy a copy. He also added that he will put it up on his website at some point soon too.
Andy also mentioned that he had been “burned” by MA students in the past “taking my thoughts and re-branding under their own practice” (Hughes, 2018). I reassured him in my reply that that was definitely not my style, but it is such as shame that those that have done so have potentially closed off a means of interaction for others.
He did point me in the direction of his website too – which I had of course looked through – as he said there was much more info about his work and reasons behind it to be found there. And there is indeed a plethora of media coverage and a detailed CV and biography.
It was the following sentence in the biography section that caught my eye: Hughes believes artists can leverage change through their practice by exploring the effects of climate change, human activity and other processes of change.
I can only assume that Andy’s belief in artists having the power to influence change echoes through the minds of all other artists working in an environmental context – I know its what I believe or I wouldn’t make the work I do.
As an aside, given my photography project Humans and Dogs of St Agnes, it was great to see Andy’s book all about his passion for Jack Russell’s and our bond to our dogs. Having been torn between my canine project and environmental project at the start of my MA, this raised a smile.
Hughes, Andy. andyhughes.net. Available at: http://www.andyhughes.net/site/homepage/ [accessed May 31, 2018]