The title for this body of work ‘to pass and repass along the way’ refers to rights of access, to be in perpetual motion and freely pass through a landscape that is forever changing. I would have liked to called the work right to roam, to have open access to land rather than be restricted to just public rights of way on a footpath, bridleway, byways or be confined by permissive access. Notions of a common land and to leave no trace as one roams through the english landscape are sadly wishful thinking, such yearnings were vanquished long ago by enclosure acts and private ownership in which we are sometimes allowed to pass through but cannot inhabit or loiter in.
This body of work was started some time ago, initially as little self contained projects but this mode of working within the conventions of what is or should be defined as a singular photographic project soon became redundant as I preferred a more non-linear and open ended approach to photography. I guess I became interested in creating a more carefree visual diary and to capture time experienced over a long period, to become more oblique as opposed to that of the more self-contained conceptual pieces or social narratives that have become the most dominate photographic forms in ‘art’ photography and photobooks. The work is presented in volumes but these volumes do not contain a singular story but are just simple means to an end in breaking down the work for book making, I prefer my books to have less than four folded pages as they are easier to hand stitch together and to reduce the amount of images presented in a single viewing to minimalise visual fatigue and page skimming.
The photographs were made in public spaces, spaces that anyone has access to, the spaces were humble sited on the edge lands of of urban spaces, along canal and river banks, by the side of a road, down a well trodden footpath, in our parks and nature reserves, and where our land meets the sea. The photographs capture a contemporary landscape whose beauty and mystery is hidden plain sight, sometimes is capture an ugly beauty that has been formed by human interaction with the land and the traces that are left behind.
The majority of the photographs presented have been made using a 8x10 film camera that makes you go about taking a photograph in a slightly different way to that of a hand held camera. A large format camera makes you slow down and be methodical in your approach to photography due to its manual and complex setup and operation.
Using a 8x10 large format camera outside in the landscape is a physically demanding activity, the camera and accompanying equipment are extremely heavy and it can be a challenge to even get to your location. Another element that can alter your approach to photography is the cost of consumables, labour and time. Large format photography can be expensive in terms of film stock, chemistry, time spent scanning the negatives and in post production before you even think about printing. With these complexities, costs and physical limitations of large format photography in mind it makes you think hard before taking a photograph which might not be a bad thing in this age where we are mindlessly distracted by a deluge of digital images. Once the equipment has been set up the act of using the camera becomes very performative and immersive as you view the world upside down and back to front, it makes you look at things anew and intently. In the past year I have started using a digital medium format camera, age is catching up me and sometimes in the middle of winter the thought of a two mile walk carrying a large format camera becomes less appealing but the way I look at and interact with the landscape has changed through using a large format camera so whatever camera I use now its prime purpose to capture my particular way of seeing.
My intent and say intent lightly is to make an image of what seems at first glance a humble and unassuming place become something that is lyrical, nuanced and poetic, to imbue the scene with grace and create wonder in something that is normally missed, ignored or disregarded. Sometimes my work might veer towards the pastoral, I once rejected images that evoked this kind of visual sensibility as I hopelessly sought an objective realism in my photography but with time I soon realised that this was madness as photography is fiction and at best a one dimensional fabrication of reality. I soon learnt to embrace this illusionary and ingenuous nature of photography as it afforded a deeper meanings to be developed in the image making process and go beyond the perceived limitations of the reprographic and mechanical constructs of the technology.
This body of work has no conclusion or traditional narrative beyond the things and places which have been photographed, this open ended photographic journey through the landscape will be added to in time to create more volumes or chapters until the day I get bored with it, but until then I shall pass and repass along the way.