Informing contexts, week 1 – the shape-shifter

In an attempt to gain a better grasp of the concepts underlying this term’s module, I took advantage of a trip to London to visit three exhibitions – the Andreas Gursky retrospective at the Hayward Gallery and, at the Photographer’s Gallery in Soho, Wim Wenders’ Polaroids – Instant Stories –  and Paul Hart’s Landscapes: Poetry of Place. It is hard to conceive of three more varied approaches to the art of photography – Gursky’s large-scale, elaborately constructed and highly manipulated images; Wenders’ tiny square Polaroid’s each exactly as they emerged from the camera, incapable of reproduction and hence unique artefacts; Hart’s monochrome images of Fenland farming country in which he converts ordinariness into something truly ethereal.


My own research this week has concentrated on my major project, W B Yeats and Seamus Heaney: Contrasting Landscapes. In preparation for my two proposed visits to Ireland (County Londonderry later this month) and County Sligo in April or May, I am absorbing the work of these two poets in order that my photographs of the landscapes which inspired them may find appropriate resonances in the images which I aim to capture. In this endeavour, Paul Hart’s work may prove my touchstone.


On the practical front, I have been seeking to develop my landscape techniques in a variety of ways – through intentional camera movement, abstraction and mining the poetic from the ordinary. I append below some examples of recent work.


Storm Caroline
Beach at sunset
Crystal Palace
A beturbaned subject of Queen Victoria surveys South London suburbia from the ruins of Paxton’s Crystal Palace

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