up in the countryside
up in the countryside is a myth - I didn’t. Some years ago
I moved to rural South Northamptonshire after having previously
been a “townie” all my life. One symptom of this relocation
is that for some time now my pictures have been concerned with
dealing with this change, a breaking of preconceptions and an
attempt at a deeper understanding of my new environment and my
place within it. Much of the work is based around recurring themes
such as childhood recollection (or at least a personal myth of
it) memory, mystery and metaphor. My pictures are also a celebration
of just simply and quietly existing in a certain place and time.
of my pictures are made in certain places which fall into that
“no man’s land” between the purely rural and
urban - where the two overlap. Such places are often overlooked,
forgotten or neglected or are just waiting for something to happen.
The places are almost always fairly local to where I live, and
I return to them again and again with an almost ritualistic regularity,
building up a familiarity until somehow they become a part of
me and I them. As a child I sought to escape my immediate urban
surroundings to play in just such places which have now long since
been turned into industrial parks or housing estates under the
relentless yet inevitable urban expansion.
actively avoid making pictures of subjects or places that most
people would consider photogenic, picturesque or beautiful in
any traditional sense. Such places are of no interest to me visually
because what is photographed is obviously and unequivocally, the
subject and therefore entirely what the images are about.
In my pictures however, the subject content is not necessarily
entirely what the pictures are about! This sounds contradictory
and difficult to accept, particularly with photography which,
because of its power to record the surface appearance of things
so accurately and with such fidelity, we have learned to accept
as so called “truth”. In a way, I am trying
to find a personal truth by exploiting this widely accepted lie.
time, my visual exploration and discovery of my new surroundings,
coupled with the realisation that the countryside is far from
wild or idyllic but in reality a man-made, controlled
environment became synonymous with an ongoing personal introspective
re-evaluation. The slow unravelling of the myth of the “idyllic
countryside” has for me become inextricably linked
to a realisation of my own personal human limitations, of ageing,
fallibility and mortality – a true sense of “growing
up”. The work has become closely analogous to a visual allegorical
journey of self discovery and analysis.
of my recent work uses Polaroid SX 70 film. I use this format
because I like the instant feedback it provides and the small
size of the image which gives a degree of intensity and encourages
a certain intimacy which for me is an important factor when engaging
with the work. They are unfashionably small, quiet images
which require close, intimate examination and a degree of looking
into rather than just looking at. These are qualities
that the pictures themselves share with the places in which they
were actually made.
all 'growing up in the countryside' images>