Martin Usborne is a London-based photographer with an affinity for dogs. And if you’re lucky enough to be in London until April 27, you can see work from his series The Silence of Dogs in Cars at The Little Black Gallery.
The relationship between humanity and companion animals is a profound interest of editorial photographer Martin Usborne. His series Dogs in Cars, spanning 41 images at current count, explores a silent, solemn aspect of this relationship. Influenced by a childhood memory of waiting in a car whilst his parents were shopping in a supermarket, it recalls Usborne’s childhood, a feeling that is possibly similar to those of his beloved canine subjects.
“I was once left in a car at a young age. I don’t know when or where or for how long, possibly at the age of four, perhaps outside a supermarket, probably for fifteen minutes only. The details don’t matter. The point is that I wondered if anyone would come back. The fear I felt was strong: in a child’s mind it is possible to be alone forever. Around the same age I began to feel a deep affinity with animals – in particular their plight at the hands of humans. I saw a TV documentary that included footage of a dog being put in a plastic bag and being kicked. What appalled me most was that the dog could not speak back. I should say that I was a well-loved child and never abandoned and yet it is clear that both these experiences arose from the same place deep inside me: a fear of being alone and unheard. When I started this project I knew the photos would be dark. In a sense, I was attempting to go back inside my car, to re-experience what I couldn’t bear as a child. What I didn’t expect was to see so many subtle reactions by the dogs: some sad, some expectant, some angry, some dejected. It was as if upon opening up a box of grey-coloured pencils I was surprised to see so many shades inside. There is life in the darkest places inside us. “
And as for Martin Usborne… Usborne’s book The Silence of Dogs in Cars was awarded “Best in Show” in the Creative Review Photography Annual 2012. He was also a finalist of the 2009 Taylor Wessing Award in the National Portrait Gallery for his photograph “Tiger, Rag, Johnny and Emma”.
He lives and works in London. He studied philosophy and psychology and then 3D animation before finally settling on photography. But is currently spending a year to see how many animals he can save in 365 days. Read the ongoing blog here. And yes. He hopes for this to become his next book.