Three established artists were chosen by a panel of art experts to customise the Big 4: Nick Knight, Mark Titchner and El Anatsui. The fourth artist, Stephanie Imbeau, won a competition for recent graduates judged by the same panel.
'Photography is about an understanding of the world around us. It's a series of questions and no answers and that is just as it should be. I'm quite happy for it to be all the shades of grey and no black and white. I don't think that should be simplified. Simplification in life is totally wrong.'
Nick Knight, The Independent, 21 October 2006
Londoner Nick Knight is one of the most innovative and influential photographers in Britain today. Although best known for his work in fashion and advertising, he has been challenging conventional ideas of beauty since he first began to work in the field in the 1980s. In images such as those of the double amputee, Aimee Mullins, photographed as a broken Victorian doll, or shots of models in their seventies and eighties, or the first commercial photos of the size-16 model Sophie Dahl, Knight has been asking questions and pushing the boundaries for more than two decades now.
Nick Knight started art college in 1979 and by 1982 had published his first book of photographs, Skinhead (Omnibus Press), 'my photographic vision of London's East End skinheads'. He has since published two further books: Nicknight (Schirmer 1995), a 12-year retrospective of his work, and, with Sandra Knapp, Flora (Harry N Abrams 2003), a series of flower pictures, first published in 1997.
'Fashion-Able', featuring actress/model/athlete Aimee Mullins, Dazed & Confused, September 1998
Photography Nick Knight
After a year or so spent 'doing everything I could, like crappy music jobs where I would be sent to a hotel bedroom for 20 minutes to photograph some new band … and they're simply not going to move from the bed,' Knight rapidly progressed to the new style magazines then making their mark in London. i-D, where he worked for ten years as picture editor, and The Face both provided important outlets for his work. So too, later, did Dazed & Confused, for whom his work has included a series of photos of women who have had mastectomies because of breast cancer, Visionaire and Vogue.
Knight's award-winning advertising photography includes work for clients such as Yves Saint Laurent, Yohji Yamamoto, Alexander McQueen, Calvin Klein, Levi Strauss and Christian Dior. He also worked on the 2004 Pirelli Calendar and has shot album covers for Elvis Costello, Björk, Kylie Minogue, Paul Weller, David Bowie and Massive Attack. The last involved reassembling car parts into the shape of a giant beetle for the album Mezzanine.
'Sister Honey', Dazed & Confused, 1999
Photography Nick Knight
Knight's work has been exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Modern, the Saatchi Gallery, the Photographers Gallery and the Hayward Gallery. He has also produced a permanent installation, Plant Power, for the Natural History Museum in London.
In November 2000, Knight set up SHOWstudio, an 'online fashion broadcasting company committed to pioneering, live fashion media'. The company brings together some of the world's most sought-after and influential photographers, artists, writers, designers and cultural figures in experimental interactive projects, films and live performances.
Knight, a father of three, recently turned down a renewal of his contract with American Vogue in order to spend more time with his family – and on the SHOWstudio project.