Channel / 12 Jan 2021

Artist Interview: Kaz Alexander

What originally fired your interest in photography? Are there any photographers you particularly admire?

My interest began as a toddler: I was given a toy plastic box-camera (I think I still have a photo or two taken with it). Then a year or so later a soldier – mum was a CS typist attached to RSME & BD – _came back from Germany with a bomb-sale Iloca Rapide B 35m SLR. It was my camera from being given it then, up until the early 1990s (I loved it). I couldn't always afford to have films developed but I recorded everything around me: my dog, working in the fields in Kent with Nan Gert, interesting streets in London, cloudscapes, student parties & travelling overland to Iran.

There were two photographers who filled me with admiration from childhood: Jane Bown (for both her 2.8 f stop portraits to her social records) & Martha Gellhorn (for her war photography).

What was the motivation behind your project My World Through Glass?

I've been severely ill and disabled since 1982, and I've been housebound for a little over twenty years. During those latter, housebound years I've become more and more anchored to one spot, thus limiting my perception of the outside world to viewing it through glass. For example, through my window, my camera lens, my tablet & TV screens. I always wanted to take photos but considered it must be boring for others to see the same things over and over; this saddened me. Then I decided that this was my world and I should record it in a disciplined and honest way, in a way which interested me. And so My

World Through Glass was born. (It never occurred to me that people might genuinely want to see my photos too.)

10°C 4.27PM Changeable, with fast-moving, variable clouds; chilly, damp with wind veering & rising slightly. Wind 32mph WSW.

As a photographer, in what ways did the pandemic affect your choice of subject and approach?

I have to honest, other than worrying about other people, the pandemic hasn't really influenced my choice of subject and approach to a great degree. However, as more and more people began liking my photos & following me on Instagram – telling me that they found them uplifting – I realised I was giving something to someone else, too.

How has Instagram enabled you to share your image-making with a wider audience?

Instagram has been pivotal in putting my photos in front of people from all over the world. It has also resulted in my being discovered at the age of sixty-three and at a time when all I'm capable of is reclining in a disabled raiser/recliner, taking the odd photo from that vantage point, & tottering to the commode a few feet away.

Unusually, there are three North Wales-based photographers in the Many Voices, One Nation 2 exhibition, two on Anglesey. Do you feel that the richness and diversity of North Wales gets the attention it deserves from contemporary photographers?

Generally speaking, perceptions & projections of Wales have tended to be Cardiff-centric, sadly (which is divisive). I think it’s important to unite Wales by the way it is presented to the public, be they in Wales or not. I'm delighted that three of us are North Walian & further delighted that two of us are on Ynys Môn. I don't know how much public exposure local photographers have received, but I have noticed a mini cornucopia of photographic talent on this island alone; I don't know them individually but have seen their work on social media. I cannot really speak for or comment on other contemporary photographers’ choice of subject (we aren't all able to move freely about the nation). I would encourage all photographers in Wales to at least try to document, express all that is North Wales, as well as other regions.

11°C 4.18PM Mostly clear & hazy, with peripheral clouds; chilly, damp with wind decreasing noticeably. Wind 39mph SW.

What are your thoughts about being included in this Ffotogallery exhibition?

To be honest, I was stunned and in a state of partial disbelief when David (Director of Ffotogallery) direct messaged me on Instagram! I was amazed to have been discovered, without even trying, when I'm 63, losing vision in one eye and I'm so severely ill and disabled. I am and will always be deeply appreciative. I believe in the concept of Many Voices, One Nation & am thus proud to play a part in this project.

What are your hopes for Wales in 2021?

Wow, what a question! I hope that we remain proud of and united by our differences, because we are all a part of Wales. I hope that we manage to survive and control COVID 19 - and all its variants - with as little loss of life as possible and as little misery (also that people with Long COVID get the support they need). I’d like our Welsh Government to be stronger (it’s a great force for good in the main.)