Sustainable prospects: weeks 7-11

For the reasons mentioned in an earlier post, my resolutely non-commercial approach has made it difficult for me fully to engage with the topics in this module. However, I have enjoyed a number of the the presentations which have provided interesting insights into the world of advertising, the fine-art market and social media.

The five weeks have been devoted principally to my major project as reported elsewhere:

Major project – literary landscapes

A large number of images from my trip to Ireland in November had to be sifted and sequenced. I am grateful to Krishna Sheth for helping me decide a final sequence for my work-in-progress submission. The oral presentation always requires much forethought and preparation. Sophie Gerrard kindly reviewed my first effort and I have sought to take her useful comments into account in the final version to be submitted.

I have also had meetings with a fine-art publisher in order to discuss formats and pricing of my proposed photobook. I am still considering whether to use an outside publisher or to self-publish via an online platform; my initial plan is to experiment with the latter, not least for reasons of cost.

I have undertaken further reading: Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain and Robert Macfarlane’s Landmarks (to be followed by his Wild Places). Whilst none of these books deal with photography, their authors’ keen observation of landscape and the natural world can but assist the development of my practice.

I have also re-read Jesse Alexander’s Perspectives on Place (2015) in which his discussion of the picturesque and the sublime (pp. 64-75) has particular relevance to my major project. The “Yeats country” of County Sligo with its curious mountain formations, dark forests and waterfalls has many elements of the sublime. I am now consciously seeking to avoid (without subverting) the purely picturesque; this is particularly the case with the “Heaney country” of Northern Ireland which has suffered much from human intervention and where echoes may be found of the scruffy semi-urban, semi-rural landscapes  documented by, for example, Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts (Edgelands: Journey’s into England’s True Wilderness (2011)) and Mark Powers (26 Different Endings (2003-2006)). Two of my images, captured within yards of Heaney’s birthplace at Mossbawn, are inserted below:

Yeats 1
Hall of the Ancient Order of Hibernians

 

Yeats
The “football field” adjacent to Mossbawn

 

In recent weeks, I have sought to broaden my photographic horizons through visits to various exhibitions, most recently the Photography Centre at the Victoria & Albert Museum. In addition to the permanent exhibits from the early days of photography (Fox Talbot, Eugène Atget, Julia Margaret Cameron etc), recent work from Thomas Ruff was on display, namely a digital reinterpretation of the photographs of Captain Linnaeus Tripe made in India and Burma in the 1850’s:

thomas-ruff-b.1958-tripe_12-c-type-print-2018-c-courtesy-of-thomas-ruff-and-david-zwirner-gallery
From the series Ruff/Tripe (Thomas Ruff, 2018)

I also visited the Tate Modern which has a small exhibition of the work of James Welling and Zoe Leonard, including four of Leonard’s Sun Photographs. The latter, in the word of the notes accompanying the exhibition, are the result of  Leonard’s interest “to understand her [i.e. the photographic] medium’s dependence on something it cannot record”:

December-3-frame-3-600x747
From Sun Photographs (Zoe Leonard, 2012)

Finally, as a landscape photographer exploring the relationship between photography and literature, I particularly appreciated Vasantha Yogananthan’s pastel images in his presentation A Myth of Two Souls at the Photographers’ Gallery, a retelling (as yet incomplete) of the Hindu epic poem, the Ramayana:

 

b670a6337f46bd3ba0ad1fd380eab9f3-large
From A Myth of Two Souls (Vasantha Yogananthan, 2015)

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