Poignance in Nature: Nine Minutes with Adrian Houston

With having exhibited at both The Royal Academy of Arts and The National Gallery, Adrian Houston not only has an exceptional eye for detail but has explored some of the earth’s unexplored wonders.

With an extraordinary range of works in place, from portraiture to landscapes, Adrian is exhibiting ‘A Portrait of the Tree’ at the new Unit London this September which explores the connections between global influencers and nature.

Along the way Adrian heard many fascinating stories. Lord Tollemache, former Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, told of the ancient oak in whose hollow trunk Queen Elizabeth II used to shelter during the annual shoot on his estate. Designer Jasper Conran talked about the beech tree outside his bedroom window; the first and last thing he sees each day. Perhaps most poignant of all is the Cedar of Lebanon, part of the proud history and landscape of the grounds of Le Manoir aux Quat Saison, owned by legendary chef Raymond Blanc. Sadly, this magnificent tree was diseased and had to be cut down. Adrian’s art will now ensure it is captured for posterity.

We speak to Adrian about his upcoming works.

How did you get into photography?

I was raised in a creative home that valued artistic freedom, I was surrounded by art. This drive for artistic flare persisted me to gain experience with professionals within the photography world, pushing me to contact my ‘list’ of the top 10 photographers. I eventually was given an incredible opportunity to work with the renowned Michael Joseph as his assistant, having this leverage within such a competitive market enabled me to grow as an artist myself.

Where/who do you draw your inspiration from?

My mother was an artist and she was once painted by Salvador Dali; that is where my art stems from. Photography has always been a passion and I’m doing what I love, so the inspiration will always be drawn from there.

Why do you prefer shooting landscape photography?

Spending time connecting with nature is the best therapy anyone one can have. The natural world we live in is something to behold we all need to learn to love our planet and not cause it harm. The stories behind the image connect us all on a universal level, landscapes offer an essential tool when educating people on planet earth; after all, if there were no trees on the planet, we wouldn’t be here either.

Has your approach to photography changed over the years?

Although technology has rapidly developed over the years with the likes of Photoshop and filtering methods, the most important thing I’ve learnt about photography is the way in which one must work with light and composition. Yes of course, it is useful to have these tools within technology, however there is nothing more organic than capturing the natural state of an image.

You say you have a strong relationship with nature, where do you think this stemmed from?

A personal experience of mine, years ago I survived an erupting Volcano; it’s power and beauty was something that made me understand we are but a speck of humanity within a greater realm. When you witness first-hand the natural power of the earth, it makes you realise the sheer force of nature. It is of course the reason of our existence and ultimately our survival, so we must do all we can to protect it.

You seem to have travelled a lot for your work, what’s next on your agenda? Is there anywhere in particular you’re keen to visit and photograph?

The one place that has always stuck in my mind is Kashmir, India. When I first arrived in Srinagar, it seemed to be occupied by thousands of guns troops, which of course was extremely alarming.  I got to my Hotel to find a sign saying ‘please leave your weapons outside’ and I came to find I was the only guest. I walked down to the Dal Lake and took a small boat out, all of a sudden I was surrounded by succulent lotus flowers and the beautiful mountain peaks. What originally was quite a terrifying ordeal, developed into a haven of mother nature at its finest and suddenly all else seemed irrelevant. This actually inspired me to begin writing a novel, I hope to one day go back to this place and to capture it’s beauty once more.

Renowned photographer Adrian Houston’s latest exhibition, A Portrait of the Tree, will be held at Unit London’s brand-new space in Hanover Square from 17th to 28th September.