Bio

Born, adopted and raised in the north east of England, in his youth A M Hanson began photographing the west Yorkshire suburban countryside and inner city Leeds areas he grew up in. 

His mother A A Hanson (Leeds College of Art) is a ex art teacher and potter, his father managed Wetherby racecourse.  

After local schooling and at St Peter's School York, he moved into central Leeds in his teens, sharing houses with friends from local arts colleges. Photo montage work from this time was first shown in a group display about 'new surrealism' in the Henry Moore Foundation at Leeds City art gallery.

He was cast and performed in several productions at the progressive Leeds University Workshop Theatre, also making posters and production stills, and also took part in a course with the National Youth Theatre. This early performance interest and staging is to evolve and influence much of his visual ideas and development.


Alex Mark moved to the capital in his late teens in 1989. He made a set of images of the falling Berlin Wall later that year, for an American sponsor and trade union company. He travelled across Europe, visiting and photographing scenes and scapes in France, Germany, Austria and Italy (with the once Sitwell residence of Montegufoni near Florence as a base).

1990‘s : His first London nightlife photo story of a rave was published in i-D magazine (Jan. 91 issue - under the moniker Alex Sparks) and later in other music/art/scene listings and publications.

Other work from this period included recording ancient Persian bronze artefacts and other art works for dealers and collectors, assisting, promotions and gardening.

Recordings, songs and later performances were created and produced with artists and musicians including Hono Lulu, Richard Torry, and later The Off Set and The Paper People collectives and others.

He appears in an French TV advert as a catwalk photographer for Mods Hair in 1993 and as himself in "A Smashing Night Out" (dir: M Glamorre) a 1994 short film for the BBC's 10x10 series.

By his mid twenties his London photos portray city spaces and encounters, friends and associates and those whose work he admired, including Leigh Bowery and Alexander McQueen, at key moments in social and performative situations. Related photographs appeared in a Bowery Tribute group show, curated by photographer Johnnie Shand Kydd, at The Fine Art Society London in 1995.

Some of the images and story lines from this time can now be seen in a range of art and fashion books; Alexander McQueen The Life and The Legacy and Fashion Visionary - Judith Watt, Goodman Books, UK, 2012, Harper Design, USA, 2012, Leigh Bowery - Violette Editions, 1998 (prompting publisher Robert Violette to call his images of Bowery's last show; "representing a crucial, defining moment of London in the 1990's."), in Verwandlungskünstler - ed. Angela Stief, Piet Meyer Verlag, 2015 and in Andrew Wilson's biography of McQueen, Blood Beneath The Skin - Simon & Schuster, 2015. see media 


In good and tough times, through life's varied circumstances, A M Hanson has always evolved his processes and image making ideas and made work somehow and somewhere.

This forward thinking consistency has remained key to his life and optimistic outlook; "It's all about evolution of the eye and the mind, getting better in spirit and action, for yourself, the work and those around you, those connected to it and connecting others to it. There comes a point where one has to take a leap of faith in oneself and in life, and live it with a bit more heart and vision. Aiming for better communications. Standing up for yourself and your ideas. That and just getting on with life and work ... enjoyment in evolving images."


2000‘s : As ideas and situations developed so too did Hanson's desire to find new ways to express them. Next he formed a solo and collaborative guest venture called alexcalledsimon projects, to present new work including a mixed and multi media 'photo related family' - including a sometime ongoing concept character called Susan Tripod.

These thematic displays and performative actions were presented across various platforms in the UK and internationally; including for a vending machine project in Tokyo, a group sound show (Susan's Big Jump, for Maggot) at Wolfgang Tillmans’ London studio, in a series of department store windows in Brussels (for t.a.g galleries) and in web based videos. In the case of concept character Missy island ; a paper motif trail across several of the Greek Cyclades islands and paper island hats project worn on the heads of friends and strangers alike. see archive / updating...

Photo stories and series included published live documentations and staged portraits of various cutting edge and avant garde performers. Notably including a two year survey of David Hoyle's RVT performances and other shows (work published in Dance Theatre Journal UK - including a cover and lead article feature, Gazelland magazine USA, a Duckie produced DVD and a display of photo blog cut outs at Donlon Books London).


2010‘s : He later moved into academic studio based situations for the first time to develop photo art concepts further. Firstly experimenting with processes between analog and digital photography at London College of Communication (LCC / UAL) 2010, and then creating new bodies of work whilst studying BA Hons in Fine Art at UCA Canterbury, graduating in 2013 with first class honours. 

A large scale photo installation A Office Foyer in Winter  presented a series of oversized duratrans backlit in the campus atrium (installation views in Shows ), a photo book about office plants and a project video. The project essentially explored life forces in alien spaces, and was in itself a celebration of colour. An Emerge (Office) , a photo series from this time, sought out the fixed ephemeral forms made by objects in opaque office windows at night. 


Prints and other works are exhibited in solo and various group shows including at; Regent's Place London 2014 (solo show), Lubomirov/Angus-Hughes Gallery London 2016, Galleria Uno Uno Milan 2012, Rice+ Kyojima Tokyo 2003, Leo Kesting Gallery New York 2007, Limbo Arts Margate 2014 (solo show), Turf Projects Croydon 2015, Pyramid Arts Centre Warrington 2015, Residence Gallery London & Hackney Wicked Festival 2008, t.a.g galleries Brussels 2009, Power Lunches London 2009, Brewery Tap project space Folkestone 2015, The Centre of Attention London 2003, Red Gallery London 2004, Vexed Generation London 1999 (solo show), Elms Lesters Painting Rooms London 2001, Soho Brasserie London 1992, CZ Shop London 1993, The Fine Art Society London 1995, Willes Road Shows London 1997/98, Herbert Read Gallery UCA Canterbury 2011, LCC galleries 2010, The Snowman 40 project 2018, The People's Moon Apollo50th project 2019, for 24London's European touring exhibits 2006, for Satellite Festival at Whitstable Biennale 2012, for Photo Month, East London Photography Festival 2016, various digital features and displays and film screenings.


Key solo shows A Distant, Darkened Lobby (Limbo Arts Margate, 2014, part of Turner Contemporary's Season of Colour) and interior, light, shade (Regent's Place, London, 2014) ...

Both these shows were made up of a series of 'photo sets', installations with large scale backlit film prints and adapted objects and furniture, recreating office fragments and forms as ideas and motifs for artists' studios. The concept being that studios are vital aspects of any community's life and pulse and that creativity can be derived from any situation. The message also being that "the best studio of all is the right frame of mind."  see Shows


Collaborative film and video work includes for Xeric series with musician and producer Dale Cornish (2014, Entr'acte). Here Hanson responds to Cornish's mesmeric soundscapes with visual impulse and pattern alongside an exploration of space and time. In one video, an escape to a seaside studio, the musician finds recreation with masks and new forms, and in another we encounter a wayward trip across an unfolding moon lit cityscape. 

Lens based Bud Systems and Today's Crow  series are a blend of poetic and raw seasonal flora and fauna based image stories and mixed media works. Recently illustration and animation storylines form part of this body of work.


Curating; early curatorial projects included helping organise various performance based events across London. Later on mixed/multi media shows, such as a work test site on a beach, Susan's Camp at Satellite Festival / Whitstable Biennale (2012), group shows An Early Bud and Octo Ray 3 at UCA (2011, 2013), Studio life Lines for Photo Month Festival (2016), and These Studio Cities (Origins & Motifs) print display and shop at Woolwich open studios (2017).

Hanson has given energetic and insightful illustrated talks about his work and surrounding concepts at UCA, Central Saint Martins (the Museum there holds some of Hanson's prints of alumnus McQueen) and elsewhere and created memorable and inspiring workshops for arts and media orgs, community groups and others.


Other stills and video work projects includes documentation and promo material for architectural practices and construction companies, and more recently beginning advertising work across commerce and media.

Ongoing photo projects includes portraiture and photo features (recent and archive work) especially of performers and artists, in studios, on location, at work and play and in live production contexts. Also of a wide variety of people in many walks of life and work, creating profiles, photo stories, editorial and promotional material.

Images published in magazines including Dance Theatre Journal, Gazelland (USA), GQ Style (SA), i-D, Time Out, Love Magazine, various digital media features, including BBC news, in culture/scene/music press and in the books mentioned above.


Explore projects


(A M Hanson, Alexander Mark Hanson. Past project credits; Alex Sparks, Alex Mark Hanson called Simon, simonsplaypen, Alex Called Simon, alexcalledsimon projects)



top: A Distant, Darkened Lobby, solo show, Limbo Arts, Margate, 2014 (photo courtesy Limbo Arts)

above: Alex, London 2018

info

top