Over a cup of tea with Bill Jackson

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An informal Q & A

Which photographer or artist do you most admire?

How long is a piece of string. Different artists and photographers for different reasons. I suppose I would nominate those who were influential at various times. Initially Hans Holbein, August Sander, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus along with Irving Penn and Robert Frank. Later Francis Bacon and Edward Hopper.

What artwork, where money is no object, would you like to hang on your wall?

I think I would love to have hanging on my wall Pieter Bruegel the Elder's painting of The Tower of Babel. Over the years it has begun to say more to me than any other image.

What is the worst commission you have ever had?

I don't normally do commissions in the commercial sense but I do have memories of really uncomfortable photographic situations. It was many years ago in the early 1980's when I turned up to see if there were any picture possibilities for a project I was working on. I love the circus and travelling people. I think it's the caravans I like. Anyway I came across a group of travellers known as The Rainbow Circus. I had taken a large friend of mine along who was interested to see what was going on. I sought out the Boss man and asked permission from him to take pictures. As part of the 'negotiations' I had to take a drink of foul looking home brew at 8 am in the morning. Unfortunately my friend refused it. It went down hill from there.

What is the best commission you have ever had?

I suppose the most enjoyable is always the one you are working on but in reflection the night photography I have been doing. Being outside alone in the Suffolk landscape has been very special. It's me, the camera lens and the night, plus the odd pig and partridge.

Which famous artists, living or dead, would you invite to a dinner party?

Well it would have to be Francis Bacon, Caravaggio, Derek Jarman, Diane Arbus and Clint Eastwood. It could be an interesting mix.

When are you at your happiest?

When I am working on a project. Full of hope for its birth. Also going for walks with my wife and dog and eating with close friends who appreciate good food at St John Bread and Wine in Shoreditch.

What is your most treasured possession?

All the bits of scrap paper I have collected over the years.

What book are you reading at the moment?

I read in bursts and it tends to be a thriller or crime novel which I can lose myself in and brings out the innate detective in me. What I am reading now is the personnel memoirs of Lt. Colonel Hal Moore and his involvement in the Battle of Ia Drang, one of the first battles of the Vietnam War. I love history, especially post war American political history.

What really winds you up?

London traffic wardens,

What would your dream project be?

Photographing on the Moon or Mars.

What do you do when not working?

I love to walk, go out to dinner with my wife and friends or invite them to us as both my wife and I like to cook and entertain.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Anywhere. It's all around me. Could be a book, an exhibition, a conversation, a film, a chance meeting.

How you would you like to be remembered?

That I was an honest Joe who tried his best.

What music would you like played at your funeral?

It would be four things. Pilgrim by Steve Earle & The Del McCoury Band. This was played at the funeral of a close artist friend many years ago. As time goes on I understand the sentiment more and more. The other pieces would be Mozart's Laudate Dominum and as people leave I would like Days by The Kinks and Forever Young by Bob Dylan.

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