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Finnegan travers and the captured tenderness of human connection

Busy with his annual routine of garlic harvesting in Devon, MSM talks with London-based Photographer & Visual artist, Finnegan Travers.

The Mohawk and the Goblin, off the shadowy shores of Aberdeen, Imaginary Folk series, 2021

From delicately captured documentary photographs to experimental videos offering snapshots and narratives of his surroundings, Finnegan Travers' scenic work encapsulates the multi-layered intimacies of youth, community, and family.

Originally from small town Totnes, Devon, creating videos with his friends evolved from a hobby to keep to a stepping stone to his creative journey. The feeling of warmth and familiarity is recognised at an instant when looking into one of his most personal pieces, Now There's Time (the tooth is in the box) (2020). Responding to almost losing his twin brother, the video is divided into three time periods, one consisting of a collection of archival footage of a 5-year-old Finnegan, the other a montage of 4,452 photos taken during his adolescence, and the final a night in Paris. Travers invites us into his world, escaping from the busy and hectic.

Tiffany: To start off, how's your day so far?

Finnegan: My day is good! I’m actually currently doing a harvest in Devon, so it’s pretty beautiful being outside all day. I love getting stuck into the muddy fields.

Tiffany: That sounds amazing - to have some time off and be away from the city is always nice. I see a lot of your work eludes to nature and the idea of home, such as your from farm boys to city kids series. How do you think your upbringing shaped your creative identity?

Finnegan: I’m originally from a small ex-hippy town called Totnes in Devon. I owe a lot to this place If I’m honest - because there was fuck all to do, it gave me and my friends a lot of time to play around in nature and piss about making weird videos.

Tiffany: How did you find yourself becoming a photographer? Was this a natural progression from the videos you were making with your friends?

Finnegan: I’ve loved ‘making things’ from such a young age that perhaps it is a natural progression. Typically, my older brother turned me on to photography. At that point though I was obsessed with art, and I think it’s hard not to be inspired to create stuff when the choices of mediums are so varied - I wanted and still do want to try my hand at most mediums out there!

Tiffany: I see, a lot of your work seems instinctive. Did you end up pursuing a formal arts education with this approach?

Finnegan: I’ve taken pictures and videos from a young age, so when I was 19 I moved to London. I thought at the time it was the right decision to study photography… ha. I didn’t really enjoy university but knew I wanted to continue to make stuff, so I guess it gave me the facilities and bridge to the city to exist in London.

Tiffany: From Devon to London… could you speak more about what makes an interesting subject to you? What catches your eye?

Finnegan: To be honest, I’m not sure. I’m inspired by all sorts of stuff! People inspire me a lot though - humans I should say - running around doing their thing, existing.

Tiffany: I found your imaginary folk series fascinating as it also intertwines fantasy with human touch. Do you find inspiration in the mystical as well?

Finnegan: Yeah, of course! I mean fiction is just fun isn’t it? Creating a character, thinking what their voice would sound like or what they’d be like at a party in the early hours. It’s just fun thinking these characters up and I’d love to do more of it over time.

Tiffany: With the real world shutting down and needing to isolate during the pandemic, do you think that's hindered you in a way in terms of creating intimate work based on these fleeting, in-person moments?

Finnegan: It hasn’t really. It always seems like a bad thing to say, but I sort of really enjoyed the isolation Covid brought on. Of course, it’s stunting and a tricky thing to navigate, but it’s interesting to say the least how it’s altered humanity.

Tiffany: I found your covid notes series reassuring in times of isolation and loneliness. Could you tell me more about how that project came about?

Finnegan: Well, I work a lot with a super talented wizard and close friend Alfie Brooks who's based in Berlin. You could say me and Alfie are in love creatively. We speak as often as we can and when lock down started, we thought we’d document it. I think naturally we work well together. We wanted to gain an insight into what others did with their time and how this surreal period was affecting them. Visually, it was more about collecting footage and working with my own archive bits. The focus was mainly on the individual stories.

Tiffany: In the digital age, finding people to collaborate with seems easier with so many platforms. What's your relationship with social media like? Do you think it's useful in promoting your work and networking, or are you sick of it?

Finnegan: It’s super useful. The problem is it is obviously evil. But fuck it, self-control seems to be worth practicing.

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