Documentary photographer explores the hidden lives of those in monasteries

July 12, 2016

Recent graduate from Falmout University Ashley Bourne talks about his latest and graduating project Benedicts House. A body of work where Ashely spent extensive time with men of faith to understand their backgrounds and day to day way of life. 


Ashely Bournes portrait of a priest for theprintspace photography blog daily dose interview


Hey! Please introduce yourself and what you do!

Hello! My name is Ashley Bourne and I am a photographer currently based in the South West (UK), having just graduated from Falmouth University. I work part time as a U.C.T (underwater ceramic technician), a self-assigned job title… that in short means I give plates a quick swill before loading them into a dish-wisher in a small but very busy shellfish restaurant.

Tell me a little bit about your current project.

I have just finished working on a project entitled Benedict’s House, which looks into the secluded yet serene world of the Benedictine monastery and those devoted to a spiritual service. The project stems from a personal curiosity of mine, one that stuck with me since I was quite young. I had once seen white-cloaked monks wondering the grounds of a grand Cistercian monastery, quietly disappearing behind doors no outsiders were allowed to enter. This really struck my curiosity and my desire to find out more; I’ve always seemed to romanticize ways of life that are different to that or the norm, especially when it involves the mystery and grandeur of religion. The project is not so much about the Catholic Church, but more so the devotion of lives to a higher power, a service you can find in almost every religion, and the quite beauty of a monastic vocation.


Ashely Bourne speaks to theprintspace photography blog about his latest project


What are the pros and cons you find daily about your practice?

CONS: It can sometimes be quite slow, but I am hoping this will soon change. I am currently working part time jobs to help fund my next projects and my love for working with film… this has proved to be damn expensive when you are shooting a lot. PROS: It is always exciting. I am always thinking about where photography might take me in years to come, what new and interesting people I might come to meet.

What is it about your practice that you find so exciting and keeps you hooked?

I once heard a photographer named Patrick Brown call photography ‘the best visa I have had in my entire life’, and I think that just about sums up what I find so exciting about photography.  It one of the best vehicles to move in and out of cultures and societies that you wouldn’t usually be able to touch upon, whilst hopefully, teaching people, triggering a response and in many cases making a difference.  

If you could experiment with any other medium, what would you choose?
I Think I would like too experiment with film (video) at some point, I helped a friend of mine shoot a short film on 16mm earlier this year and that was really fun to work on, it was amazing to see the results after long days shooting with a team of people.  A body of work that has always stuck with me in terms of inspiration for working with video is The Enclave by Richard Mosse; check it out if you haven’t already! That for me really reinforced the power of both film and photography.


ashley bournes portrait of father leo for theprintspace photography blog


Where do you get your daily inspiration?

The Internet and magazines usually provide the dosage of daily inspiration, but of course it’s limited. I think the true inspiration come from going to new places and meeting new people. When you are traveling you are open to almost everything because you are never sure what to expect. I think that is where the most honest and genuine inspiration is sparked.

What’s next for you?

I am in the process of researching and gathering my thoughts for the beginning of a new series of work, which I hope to make a start on soon. I am shooting on the whim at the moment, keeping inspired by photographing the everyday whilst working up the funds to get away, I have a fair amount of travel falling into place for the end of the year which is always exciting!

Thanks for the interview!

Instagram and twitter: @ashleyjbourne 



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