My work uses the landscape to tell my story, leaving space for you to tell yours. My upbringing in Derbyshire was infused with tradition, from galas where I took part in village life to a Tideswell lambing ceremony with a male voice choir and real lambs. In my early teens the coal mines closed and I was wrenched away from Derbyshire to Leicestershire. I further cemented the move from the rural by moving to Leicester and making it my home. Photography and art was always an interest, but moving out at eighteen demanded a ‘sensible’ job, and that’s where I languished for many years. One day I bought an entry level SLR and worked with that until my needs exceeded its capabilities and, through a little photography related work and a loan, I bought a better camera which has been an engaging tool. My practice moved from straightforward landscapes, quickly changing to darker landscapes as I aimed to echo my thoughts and emotions through my photography. Prior to studying this year, my work was mainly centered around my own personal emotions. The thought process behind the images was not necessarily directly alluded to yet there was a personal narrative behind each one. Through circumstance, I am largely self-taught, not entering higher education until my experience and exhibitions in Leicester, Nottingham, Brighton and London allowed me to access an MA in Fine Arts without holding a BA Degree. I produce both digital and film images, reflecting my love of the wilder places in the UK. Most excursions begin with an OS map, starting from the edgelands and looking towards the wilderness, the lost places. Recently, my photography considers my ongoing frustration regarding freedom to access green space, trespassing and the urban environment, particularly the impact of traffic and the effect of that on mental wellbeing. Looking around my mostly urban area, there are city parks, verges and further out, fields and a few country parks. I appreciate these but they are structured, small pockets of shared space in which we are ‘allowed’ to visit if we have a car and the fee. Other ‘green’ areas are simply there because the land has no value for further development. Bearing in mind dangerously ignored climate change concerns, it has recently evolved to incorporate images of traditional and ‘false’ shrines to reflect what I observe to be revered, protected and respected. Five Signs of a False Salvation From this viewpoint, an overgrown, decorated and highly protected car park ticket machine gains the air of a modern shrine, an ancient arboreal shrine is misregarded by offerings of artificial materials, a young bird lies still on concrete in a city. Peace is found in a sacred glen but the scene is poisoned, sunlight burns through an unnatural veil of colour. Stillness is felt at a stone monument, but it is a false shrine. Shrines are usually sacred places, often natural such as groves but they can also be built temples or sanctuaries containing holy relics or objects. In some cases they may be said to contain the manifestation of a god or spirit. They are a space for remembrance, praise or worship. These sacred places could be said to reflect a culture’s worldviews and values, with the idea of strengthening biological and cultural diversity. I would argue that this is clearly happening in our modern society, but they do not reflect back glory or salvation from an unseen deity, but a reinforcement of capitalism and the destruction of the environment, a shrinking of horizons for the working class person rather than the promise of salvation as if what is held sacred can’t be bothered to lie anymore. Yet despite it being laid out before us, we turn a blind eye. We allow our money to be taken by machines more venerated than nature, we festoon pagan shrines to the water supply with plastics, we leave our wildlife to die. This work marks a departure for me away from the solely personal to a wider narrative, and a step away from the use of muted hues to overtly using colours in my work. The influence is from the urban environment and Michelangelo Antonioni’s film, Red Desert (1964) which despite his previous work using black and white film, powerfully uses colour as a tool. I have explored alternative ways of presenting my photography, using plywood and tarpaulins, echoing visuals from run down and developing cityscapes and the opening scenes of Robinson in Ruins (Patrick Keiller, 2010). I particularly admire the work of Jonny Bark who has a similar aesthetic. I hope to further develop my practice over the coming year by means of collaborations with groups in the Midlands, both established and self-led and show my work in carefully selected exhibitions.
Venue- New Art Exchange