Distracted Focus

Photography by Michael Shea, essay by James Wilson

    ISBN: 978 1 78551 2087

    Size: 303 x 240 mm

    Binding: Hardback, Slipcase

    Pages: 64

    In association with:

    Date published: March, 2019

    Date published: April, 2019

    UK £350 /US $500


  • Searing black and white photography wrought with sensitivity and equanimity
  • First time Michael Shea’s innovative landscapes have appeared in book form
  • Beautiful and luxurious, limited to a print run of just 250 copies, this book is expected to become a collector’s item
  • Contextualising introduction by writer and poet James Wilson
  • Includes free limited edition print, numbered by the photographer


An evocative, timeless and emotional series of landscape photographs that simultaneously highlights the uniqueness and representative qualities held by an array of urban, pastoral and costal British topographies. Michael Shea’s photography provides a delicate blend of photography and art, not only charting the beauty and textures of under-explored geographical terrains, but also chronicling through them a personal journey that investigates identity, history and loss…

Distracted Focus is perhaps the finest example of Michael Shea’s delicate blending of documentary and art. This collection is formed of landscape photographs that have been taken around various parts of the United Kingdom, and that present us with the haunting, beautiful aspects of a post-millenarian, post-human world. In Distracted Focus, Michael shows how the persistent and perennial beauty of nature – scudding clouds, creeping branches, metronomic tides, crowns of trees coaxed by liberal breezes – can render the extinct technologies of mankind pathetic and also oddly anonymous. A telescope on the South Downs could just as easily be in New England or overlooking the Pacific on the Gold Coast of Australia; a quiet English road is transformed into an abandoned desert highway; and an empty Sussex branch line could easily lead to Poland or somewhere in the Balkans. Geopolitical boundaries are rendered futile in these landscapes in which the quarrelsome progenitors of such distinctions have been made absent.” – James Wilson

Contents: Distracted Focus: The Exploration of Michael Shea – introductory essay by James Wilson; Works – Michael Shea’s photographs; self-portrait.

Author information

Michael Shea was born in Wandsworth and grew up in South London. He received a Master’s degree in Fine Art, specialising in Photography, from the Norwich School of Art and Design. His passion for observing, interpreting and documenting his surroundings has taken him the length and breadth of the United Kingdom – from Sussex to Cumbria and from Norfolk to Scotland. Michael’s work has been exhibited in group and solo shows across the country – at the Red Box Gallery in Newcastle, the Lighthouse Gallery in Wolverhampton, and, most recently, London’s Camera Museum and ECAD Gallery in Peckham. Distracted Focus, for which Michael received an Arts Council grant, represents the culmination of his photographic work to date, and marks Michael’s full emergence as one of the most exciting photographers working in Britain today.