Born 1953 Cardiff, Wales, Peter Fraser attended schools in Cardiff, Glamorgan and the Rhondda Valley. He acquired his first camera at the age of seven, and after a false start studying Civil Engineering, at 18, began studying photography at Manchester Polytechnic the following year. In the summer of 1974 he lived in New York and worked at the Laurel Photography Bookstore at 32nd St and 6th Avenue which significantly expanded his sense of photography’s expressive possibilities. He graduated in 1976 after repeating his third year due to major illness crossing the Sahara, while photographing in West Africa.
Fraser lived in Holland and Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, before
moving back to Manchester in 1981. He then began working with a Plaubel Makina camera in 1982 which led to an exhibition with William Eggleston at the Anolfini, Bristol in 1984, and a move to that city. In summer 1984 Fraser travelled to Memphis, USA to spend nearly two months with William Eggleston which confirmed for him the desire to commit his life to working with colour photography.’
He then worked on several series of photographs, leading to a first publication, ‘Two Blue Buckets’ (which featured work from, ‘12 Day Journey’, ‘The Valleys Project’, ‘Everyday Icons’ and ‘Towards and Absolute Zero’) which won the Bill Brandt Prize in London (the precursor of the CitiBank International Photography Prize), in 1988.
He moved to London in 1990, subsequently publishing several new bodies of work, including ‘Ice and Water’ 1993, ‘Deep Blue’ 1997, ‘Material’ 2002, and ‘Peter Fraser’ (Nazraeli Press) 2006.
In 2002, The Photographers’ Gallery, London, staged a 20 year survey exhibition of Fraser’s work, and he was shortlisted for the Citigroup International Photography Prize in 2004. In 2006 he was invited to be an Artist in Residence at Oxford University, England and produced new work for permanent installation in their new Biochemistry building in 2008.In 2009, Fraser was given a major commission by The Ffotogallery, Wales, to return to his country of birth, to make new work for a solo exhibition at the gallery, which opened in March 2010, with a new publication, ‘Lost For Words’.
In 2008, Fraser began working on ‘A City In The Mind’ a new series of photographs in London, which was shown at Brancolini Grimaldi Gallery, London in May 2012 accompanied by a Steidl Publication. From January to May 2013, Tate St Ives held a retrospective of Fraser’s career, the first Tate Retrospective for a living British Photographer working in colour, and Tate published a major monograph on the whole of Fraser’s career with a text by David Chandler. Tate purchased ten works for their permanent collection from the ‘Two Blue Buckets’ series in 2014.
In 2014, Fraser was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the Royal
Photographic Society, UK.
In spring 2017, Peperoni Books, Berlin, published a new Director’s Cut of Fraser’s 1988 publication ‘Two Blue Buckets’ with 19 missing images from the original, and a new essay by Gerry Badger and a discussion between Fraser and David Campany.
From 1st June to 31st July 2017, Fraser’s exhibition ‘Mathematics’ was exhibited at the Real Jardin de Botanico, Madrid, part of PhotoEspana 17 and Skinnerboox, Italy, published ‘Mathematics’ with 52 colour plates, and essays by Mark Durden, David Campany and an afterword by Fraser.
The first UK exhibition of ‘Mathematics’ opened at Camden Arts Centre, London on the 5 July, and ran to 16 September 2018. The accompanying File Note No. 120 published by the gallery, featured a specially commissioned essay ‘The Things That Count’ by Amy Sherlock, Deputy Editor of Frieze.