The exploration of my relationship with forest landscapes has always been a central theme of my photographic practice; how it formed, evolved and continues to change. I have considered our contemporary and collective sense of alienation from the natural world, the theoretical perceptions of beauty and the sublime, and the commodification of landscape as a leisure facility and resource. My work reflects on how our personal experiences of, and interactions with, landscape are shaped by the wider cultural perceptions of forests which come to us through the coloured prisms of storytelling and mythology, literature, fine art and the more contemporary narratives of climate change.
Seascapes began as a series about climate change; rising sea levels and frequent extreme weather events have lead to more serious flooding worldwide. In the winter of 2019/2020 the New Forest in the South of England, where I grew up and make most of my work, experienced a succession of storms which generated extensive flooding. Vast areas of farmland and heathland lay under sheets of water for many consecutive weeks and areas of woodland were submerged during this period, so I began to make Seascapes within this setting.
I wanted the series to speak about change, loss of control and the unknown. In some images the water that flows across dusk-darkened woodlands is ruptured by roiling currents, rushing inland. In others the forest is virtually obscured by bubbling water. However alluring, this sparkling insurgency is altogether darker and more dangerous; reflected light captured from the surface of the sea now appears in forest spaces where it was never meant to be.
As often happens when creating a body of work, it soon finds its own agenda, its own voice. Seascapes began as a personal meditation on climate change but my relationship to the landscape, especially woodland, is intrinsically connected with my twin sister. We grew up together in the New Forest and these formative years have shaped my understanding of, and involvement with, all forests, so much so that it is impossible for me to separate the two.
In Seascapes I have found a distinct parallel between my experience of making this series and the issues it forced me to address, my nostalgia for my childhood and early life in the woods; a time of innocence, naivety and a wonderful sureness in myself and the wider world, now juxtaposed with a sense of deep concern about the urgencies of the climate crisis which face us every day. And yet I have a strong and enduring hope for the future and the changes we must achieve.