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Nick Berkeley is an English photographer, film maker and writer. He was born in London in 1956, the youngest son of the composer Sir Lennox Berkeley and brother of Michael Berkeley, the composer and broadcaster.
Life and work
Unsurprisingly, given his background, Berkeley was initially involved in making and recording music. He grew up around the West London proto-punk scene from which The Clash emerged, and by 1977 was involved in a band with Raymond Watts. He was signed as a song writer to a number of companies, including Chris Blackwell's Blue Mountain Music. However, by the late the 1980s Berkeley's casual interest in photography had become the focus of his creative life. He studied photography at the Arts Institute, Bournemouth, and subsequently taught there. The 1990s were a fruitful period at the college: fellow photography students and lecturers included Nick Knight, Wolfgang Tillmans, Martin Parr and Melanie Manchot
The two emergent preoccupations in Berkeley's work are the perception of time and the primacy of aesthetics. Time After Time (1997), shot on a slit scan race finish camera, depicted time elapsed represented spatially. It utilised archive material of race finishes and was widely exhibited. This body of work, printed by Berkeley on a specially constructed enlarger, appealed to other photographers and film makers: Berkeley has said that they were the only people who actually collected his prints. Two of them - the photographer Rankin and the cinematographer John Mathieson - went on to work with him. The Women (1999) - featuring strips of enlarged still images of ecstatic women shot at five frames per second on a 16mm movie camera - gained national radio and TV coverage, and Berkeley suddenly found himself on the front of broadsheet review sections. Despite their non explicit nature, the look and intensity of the ecstatic seconds was overshadowed by the fact that the subjects were masturbating. That the end result was more significant than the means employed temporarily became a lost distinction.
Berkeley subsequently made two short films, one of which - WARMOVIE - exclusively utilised archive footage, much of it shot during the course of a Lancaster Bomber raid over Germany. It was first shown at the Imperial War Museum, London. WARMOVIE and SPINNING WORLD - a short film about the experience of viewing, utilising Berkeley's trademark lush aesthetics - have been shown at festivals throughout Europe and the UK, including the Berlin Film Festival. In 2000, Berkeley completed a journal shot exclusively on a Polaroid SX70 camera using the fabled Time Zero film. The idea was ultimately to produce a book for Dazed and Confused, as a retrospective diary of that year, featuring an image taken on each day. The prints were scanned, and the book designed, before the originals were stolen en masse from a briefcase in the back of Berkeley's parked car. Despite the existence of the scans, Berkeley halted the project, by then known as THE BOOK OF HOURS.
In 2005 Berkeley gave up visual media altogether, removing his website and other virtual links, citing the sheer proliferation of images in a world saturated with imagery as being central to the decision. He continued tutoring in lens based media. In 2011 Berkeley reportedly began work on a novel, in which the representation of time is further addressed, and an unrelated original screenplay.
A passionate motorcyclist, Berkeley regularly contributes to BIKE magazine and edits the online motorcycle culture magazine BIKERGLORY. He has two children, an actress daughter Flora Berkeley and a musician son, Jack Berkeley. Their mother is Berkeley's long term partner, Tess Moffatt, a psychotherapist.