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Andi Blake

Andi Blake by Jill Furmanovsky

I first met Andi Blake outside a sold out Oasis gig in Bridlington on a hot summer's night in 2009. I was shooting pictures of the audience queuing up before the band came on. A few weeks later Oasis split up. It was a seminal year in the band's history and the start of a strangely rewarding friendship.

Andi was sitting on a wall outside the venue with his back to the sea absorbing the atmosphere. He commented on my camera as I passed by(which he now has) and we had an interesting conversation about photography. He told me he took pictures, mainly seascapes, in between caring for his special little girl x. I must have taken a shine to him, I gave him my email address and suggested he send me some of his work, and I went off to shoot Oasis for the last time in 15 years.

That was 11 years ago. Since then Andi Blake has been sending me, almost daily, pictures taken around his home in Scarborough, the town made famous by Martin Carthy and Paul Simon in the song, 'Are you going to Scarborough Fair?' Over and over again in hundreds of ways Andi has proved that Scarborough is indeed fair. In his detailed appreciation of a small area in Yorkshire, Andi Blake resembles another local artist, somewhat better known, one David Hockney. Both image makers have another thing in common, both are devoid of pretension.

In his photographs, shot with a semi-professional camera and one zoom lens, Andi has examined the coastline, sea, sea wall, bathing huts, streams, woods, fields, skies and surrounding area in every season and in all weathers. He has hung off cliff tops, climbed slippery walls, waded in streams and knelt in waves, cycled hundreds of miles, walked marathons, all within a 5 mile radius of his house. He gets up before the sun and has completed his work before the kids go to school.

He must know every nook and cranny around the bays of Scarborough, and still the pictures keep coming; and they get better and and better as though Blake (the name he signs his work with) had the capacity to see layers and strata that only the fairies can see. Many times I have said to him - that image is magical. Magical is the best way to sum up his pictures

Andi Blake came second in the Amateur Photographer of the Year competition in 2012 and shortlisted in landscape photographer of the year 2013. He should have won, but then he is better than most amateurs and more original that most professionals. He says he doesn't know anything about cameras or equipment. That is patently untrue as the technical skill in his pictures proves otherwise. What he probably means is that he is untrained. And all the better for it in my opinion, because the camera (and its mechanics) doesn't get in the way of his vision. That can only be said of truly great photographers. Andi Blake is fast becoming one of those.

Jill Furmanovsky

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