June 15 – July 24 2017
an exhibition of work by Rachael Allain, Margaret Harland and Charlotte Price
My artistic methodology allows for a reflection on the ruptures that exist between photographic lens and lens less optical devices. My photographic and film practice is informed by a fascination with the vast complexities that shape natural order into the reality we all know. To be human is to be fixed, embedded and immersed in the physical, literal tangible day-to-day world. I’m interested in phenomenology; based on two distinctions. The first is between the inner and the outer: the inherent sphere of conscious experience and the transcendent field of external objects. I see inherent repetitions that punctuate the materiality of our existence, creating cycles and systems of rhythm that inform every part of our lives. The second is between concrete and abstract entities: the real things existing in space and time and ideal essences. Through this visual instigation, focusing my ideas around coastal sites in the South West of England, I am be able to reveal these spaces in between, these phenomenological elemental experiences.
My practice and explorations have been based on the river valley systems of Dartmoor. I have sought a way to represent the ephemeral natural world, coupled with the phenomenological understanding of ‘being’ in the land, and my sense of wonder at what I encounter. Cyanotypes fascinate me as they contain no perspective, no horizon and convey ambiguities of scale. The traces of life that I find on my wanderings, the fleeting, small and often unobserved, are transformed into sculptural forms surrounded by blue.
The other strand of enquiry has been to find a photographic language to convey the notion of a ‘place-outside-of-place’, spaces of the mind, in response to mental health issues within the family, myself included. I started to question reality, just what is real? “Even an ordinary, healthy brain does not always give us a true picture of the world, because it has no direct connection to the physical world around us. Our brains have to make inferences about the world through information received through our senses. Simultaneity, the usage in art of multiple views that reveal different perspectives, as opposed to single point perspective, has been behind much of my searching and experimentation over the past years in an attempt to convey this strangeness of being, the spaces of the mind.
My work is derived from an on-going documentation of my presence on the ancient pathways of a moorland landscape where I often walk. The broken and bruised plants that edge these routes are ubiquitous yet insignificant in the annals of the plant world. They trace the journeys I make and those of previous travellers.
The prints allude to a Victorian fascination for the natural world. I collect and press the plants before printing them. The plants will go through the press several times but each impression is individual as there is a degree of deterioration at every printing.
The Earthen series reflect a fascination with the microcosms of nature that are revealed when the earthy clod, from which the plants have grown, is printed. The dead plant matter embedded in the soil compacts nature’s detritus into multiple layers. The detail recorded is exquisite.
The Lichen series has developed over recent months following the route of a Drovers path on the higher ground of the moor. There the omnipresent lichen holds fast to the granite that is itself rooted in the ancient forest of Dartmoor. The Lichen’s slow growth here and in suspension, as a net of lace, from the oldest hawthorn trees bears witness to the passing of time.
The idea of nature and the land connecting my presence to the past is a source of continual wonderment.