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Born in Wales in 1953, Peter Fraser obtained his first camera at the age of seven. He studied photography at Manchester Polytechnic, England, from 1972 to 1976. He lived in Holland from 1976-1979, looking at as much art as possible, while travelling widely in Europe.
On his return to England, he discovered the photography of William Eggleston - a key moment - and began working exclusively in colour. In 1984 he shared a two-man exhibition with Eggleston at the Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol, and, in the summer of that year, travelled to America and spent two months travelling and working with Eggleston in Tennessee and Mississippi.
Following the solo show 'Everyday Icons' at The Photographers' Gallery, London (1986), he published 'Two Blue Buckets' (1988), a summary of four years' work, which the following year won 'The Bill Brandt Prize' (the precursor of the Citibank Prize). In the summer of 1990 Emma Dexter (now at Tate Modern) invited him to be the British Artist in residence at Marseilles. Over those two months he made work which was later exhibited and published as 'Ice & Water', and which in the intense shimmering heat, made the space around objects, and between them, the primary subjects of the photographs.
During the years from 1994 to 1996 Peter Fraser took a series of photographs which would culminate in the publication and exhibition entitled 'Deep Blue'. These machine portraits - inspired and informed both by Gary Kasparov's chess matches against IBM's computer Deep Blue, and the role of HAL in Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey' - were photographs of machines at the cutting edge of technology. In the words of Fraser, they 'proposed the emergence of a new social class - a task that photography has been concerned with throughout its history'. 'Deep Blue' was first shown at Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, and subsequently at a number of venues around Britain.
After photographing technology in sometimes extremely rarefied environments - often necessitating the use of specialist clothing to access his subjects - Fraser turned his attention to material at the other of the spectrum, namely dirt and other stuff of the lowest conceivable social value, the stuff all around us, under our feet and even under the sink. In 2000 Fraser was awarded a government grant to make photographs in the Applied Physics Department of Strathclyde University in Glasgow, where very high-level research into the fundamental nature of matter at a sub-atomic level was being undertaken. These two series of photographs ran parallel until they meshed into the same overarching project - subsequently published and exhibited as 'Material' in 2002 - essentially proposing a democratic notion of all material.
Also in 2002 The Photographers' Gallery hosted a twenty-year retrospective of Fraser's work, together with a publication featuring an authoritative essay by Jeremy Millar. The show made a distinction between 'works' and 'images' - the former purchasable, framed works; and the latter very large scale, architecturally integrated photographs, up to 8 feet by 10 feet.
He lives and works in London.