This work explores the complex interrelationship between landscape and beauty, and the notion that our understanding of landscape is constructed. In doing so it subverts the notion of beauty as truth, and references 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, 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 perceptions of the natural world are 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. These constructions obscure the reality of the land, veiling it, transforming the natural world into an idealization. The golden trees in the Smoke and Mirrors series sparkle with a seductive opulent sheen alluding to this construction, whilst also evoking a sense of the fairytale. These fantasy trees reference these 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.