Friday, January 28, 2011

Double-Yellow-Dot Delights: Q&A with Elliott Wilcox in today's National Post

I grew up in a squash-playing family, so when I saw UK photographer Elliott Wilcox's shots of racquet-sports courts, there was some serious punctum going on for me. Others think Wilcox's project is pretty cool too--he's won some awards in the past few years, and also appeared on the BBC's School of Saatchi reality TV show. Recently, I got to chat with him on the phone about his practice. The resulting condensed Q&A was published in today's National Post. An excerpt:

Q I grew up in a squash-playing family, so these photos have nostalgic value for me. What drew you to this topic?

A When I first started, I wanted to look into something that hasn't been looked into in photography so much--the idea of leisure. A lot of photography in England has looked at work. But I was interested in what people wanted to do in their own time, at their most comfortable. So I started looking at spaces of leisure, from football grounds to cinemas. Through that I got into squash courts and real tennis courts.

Q The marks left on the walls of these courts are fascinating, almost like drawings, aren't they?

A They look amazing. I love the fact that it's history on the wall itself--the history of the game and of the people who have played. There's a great sense of time on the walls. One of the real tennis courts I photographed in the south of England was made in the 1700s with a special pigment. It creates a really painterly effect.

What I'm fascinated by even more is the large space of these courts. It can be very overwhelming, especially when there's nothing else going on. When there's people there playing, it's about the sport. But when you're a spectator only of the space it becomes something completely different.

A lot of these clubs are also prestigious. Queen's Club in Notting Hill is where lots of people play before Wimbledon. When I photographed their rackets court they'd just had it painted, and the members were upset because they thought the paint would make it play differently. That fascinated me, because you wouldn't think paint would make a difference. But if you've been there so long, maybe it does.

You can read the rest of the interview here and see more pics here. Wilcox's first Canadian solo show continues at Bau-Xi Photo in Toronto to January 29.

(Image of one of Elliott Wilcox's squash-court pics from Lenscratch)


sportsbabel said...

did you know that a squash court was the site of the first successful nuclear test, back in 1942?

Leah Sandals said...

Whoa, no I didn't know that! That's crazy. A whole other photo project possible there. Thanks for posting.