This body of work examines our relationship with nature and is split into two sections: Verse I and Verse II. It seeks to illustrate the frail residue of the contemporary wilderness.
In reaction to our media-led sensory anaesthetisation, and worn by the inadequacy of late political rhetoric, I have constructed a forest built from accumulated memory and the ghosts of trees. Having spent a period of two Winters visiting public spaces in central London, this work inverts decorative Arcadian layout in an attempt to restore a sense of the natural in the cultivated, somewhat synthetic city ‘wilderness’ spaces.
The city park offers an escape valve – a window leading the weary city dweller to reconstructed, consumable nature. Although the essence of these spaces can appear pseudo-natural, some of these great trees actually predate the infrastructure of the city, and despite their accommodated appearance have witnessed centuries of human endeavour.
These works provide an emotive and atmospheric lament for that deeply ingrained aspect of the human psyche, our deeply held association with the primeval forest as spiritual home, which is lost, but which, in contemplating these visual idylls can be exhumed. These works act as a plaintive call for that which can be regenerated.
Turner was moved by what he called “The weather in our souls”. He could see the universe in a rainstorm. My search for emblematic last points of light within ensuing darkness on ocean currents
involved long periods of contemplation on the complexities of nature from a familiar vantage point.
Finding company in the words of Thoreau during his retreat to the American wilderness of Walden:
All change is a miracle to contemplate; but it is a miracle, which is taking place every instant.
The framing of the camera helped to reduce the ‘noise’ of distraction while still portraying the swirling wild morass of life, indecision, strife, entrapment and the possibility of change. Deep swirling chaos with shafts of enlightenment impress one with a disarming sense of frailty. In the face of this awesome power we are left nurturing a tender hope for light within the ensuing darkness.
Through the production of these works has come a synthesis between reality and abstraction distilled through darkness. Contemplation is brought to bear upon mournful sensory visions of restored primordial beauty.
One recognises the possibility of slowing down, and discovers the still small voice of calm that in the darkness may yet be visible.
— Nicholas Hughes
Baobab trees are some of the largest living things on the planet and have a potential lifespan of more than a thousand years. Elaine Ling travelled far distances to find and photograph some incredible specimens with her large format camera. Can you spot the human posing next to the tree?
Recently named FOAM Talentoffers his thoughts on visual storytelling and the changing definitions of documentary photography in this extended, widely informative conversation.