Interview with Amos Chapple


Read the interview with the winner of the Prague Grant 2020.

Photo: Oleg Homola

How did you come up with the topic of grant?

I work as a kind of documentary photographer so I usually spend much of my time on the road in other countries. When the pandemic shut down the borders in early 2020 I was stuck at home like everyone else, and I was also a bit stuck professionally. I had to find some theme to photograph in the Czech Republic, and I had plenty of time on my hands.

In a way I was grateful to have the situation forced on me because I had long wanted to shoot some story to celebrate Prague but I’d just been too busy.

This story was a way to honor the city -- its history and its people. All of these rooftop creatures either have some story to tell of Czech culture, or they at least show off the skill of some of your best sculptors and architects.

I get a little irritated with expats talking about Czech traditions or culture with the attitude that Czechs need to change this or stop doing that. I’ve seen enough of the world to know how lucky we are to live in a city like Prague, and nothing but respect for Czech culture and art. I’m glad that the fire of independence and patriotism still burns here in the heart of Europe, and that I can capture some of that spirit in this gorgeous rooftop art.

Photo: Amos Chapple

How many places you have already visited?

I have usable shots now of around 20 locations around Prague.

Did it ever happen that the statue could not be photographed? Where?

Yes, the muses in front of the Rudolfinum. I have several methods to shoot creatures but in this case nothing works. I tried using my ten-meter-long camera pole but they are right at the limit of the pole and it’s just too shaky and dangerous extending so high. They also sit just inside the massive no-fly zone for drones that is around the castle, and there’s no one I can ask to get up to their height since they’re on a pole, not on a roof. I love these figures so I hope I can figure something out in time for the Exhibition in January.

How you enjoy the Prague from a different perspective?

I love it, and I’m so glad other people do too. The photos are getting a huge response from Czechs I think because it’s just so thrilling to think of these creatures sitting up there through all those decades silently watching; To think of all the history that has unfolded beneath their stone feet.

Before the 2nd world war I could have made a similar project in Warsaw, or Hamburg or Cologne but so much has been lost, so it’s just a delight to capture Prague as a city that remains almost whole as the beautiful capital that your ancestors built.

Photo: Amos Chapple

What stage is the project in now?

I’m in the final stages – just waiting for a couple of permissions to access some rooftops in the old town, but I aim to be finished with the project by mid November.

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