Smoke and Mirrors
This work explores the idea that notions of beauty and our understanding of landscape are constructed, and in doing so they subvert the notion of beauty as truth, and reference wider issues of authenticity within photography.
The intention is to request a more personal response to the landscape, an experience embedded in memory, history, storytelling and folk law and magic, to engage the viewer in a dialogue with the image and in a sense of the familiar, drawing on an awareness of how our perception of the natural world is shaped.
This series is made in remote areas of The New Forest and Dartmoor, far from pathways and seldom visited by the public. Venturing deeper inside the tree-line the wind and the temperature drop as the visitor is drawn inside the seductive forest interior. From an early age the notion of the forest is given a sinister and threatening personality in the form of fairy tales and children’s stories, stepping inside the dense forest feels like entering another world. These sensory experiences often lead to the forest being user as metaphor; the wild and impenetrable has long symbolized the dark, hidden world of the unconscious.
Ongoing debates surrounding landscape examine the consequences of conceiving of landscape as beautiful and magical. These constructions obscure the reality of the land, veiling it, transforming the natural world to an idealization. The golden tree, sparkling with a seductive opulent sheen alludes to this construction, whilst also evoking a sense of the fairytale. These magical, fantasy trees reference the fictions which persist in spite of any conscious knowledge about the material, social or political status of landscapes, to create ‘rural myth’ and romanticism, obscuring an understanding of the land as threatened and exploited, dangerous and unknown.