Another sultry night in France in 2015, and this time I was working in the bamboo and bramble tunnel running between the old French house and the Widow’s house. It can take the summoning of a bit of courage to work in the night, laughing off the residual fear of the dark – almost. When I look at these specific images, I recall very clearly the indignation of the Screech owl perched somewhere above me, who was unhappy at my long-exposure exertions.
What I particularly enjoy about these images is the way the pillars of light connect with the leaf litter, helping me vouch for the ‘in-cameraness’ of the image-making – no Photoshop tomfoolery here, thank you very much. I should say too these images spooked me; there’s something sentient about these manifestations…
I think this is probably an instance wherein the methodology behind the images is ultimately more arresting than the outcome itself, but having tasked myself with the challenge of trying to recreate the silent surface of the moon in response to the Kick-About No.29, I ended up working with some very earth-bound materials – principally, eight bags of plain flour, a plastic spatula for contouring, and three big glass paperweights.
That said, I must admit to a rush of fond filmic recollections, enjoying the way such humdrum materials could be turned into other-worldly vistas. One of my great excitements as a kid was learning how film-makers produced their special effects, kit-bashing spaceships from bits of Airfix models, or lining the corridors of futuristic sets with cheap plastic food containers bought in bulk and glue-gunned to the wall.
That I was able to recreate a lunar landscape on my dining room table, using the simplest means, reminds me of the power of imagination and the importance of play.
The ‘surface of the moon’ as it manifested in reality – a large plastic seed-tray filled with flour!
A further selection of images from my late afternoon at the edge of a large field of slightly weary rapeseed, playing about with focus, and courting the bleaching effects of the sunshine. I was enjoying all the dry-looking clouds of gold, as if applied to the landscape by the rough end of a yellow pastel.
More chalky puffs of yellow from the rapeseed field by Bysing Wood. I always imagine these images as huge, perfectly matte prints behind non-reflective glass on large white walls in big, softly-lit spaces – as opposed to postage stamps on a mobile phone. I’d love to see them ‘life-size’, standing in front of them, as I originally stood at the edge of the field itself. Until that lottery win materialises, I’ll go on sharing them on here.
Back in 2012, I went to a conference in Florida. It was an academic sort of affair, but there was a little time on either side to do some sightseeing, include a road trip to the Gulf Coast and a visit to Universal Studios. It was difficult not to think hyperreal filmic thoughts as we drank coffee in roadside diners and walked around movie lots, harder still to resist taking hyperreal filmic snaps.
The first batch of photographs taken of the big rapeseed field at the edge of Bysing Wood. I know people have mixed feelings about these uncompromising swathes of yellow, and you might observe I’ve been working against the ‘YELLOWNESS!’ by photographing into the sun and shooting for more granular, powdery impressions. In actual fact, the rapeseed was already going over and less intense and profuse than it might have been, which helped it embed a little more convincingly into the environment around it. Ultimately, the colour, the light and the proper punch of heat made for a restorative visit and a lovely sensorial rush.
At the end of last week, at the end of the day, we went out to take in the view of a very large field of rapeseed just on the edge of Bysing Wood. I was soon lost, taking a great many photographs of the sea of billowing yellow flowers, photographing into the haze of the sun, over-exposing, and courting as much diffusion and noise as possible to produce my preference for painterly effects. The field itself was raised up above the level of the road and flanked by a steep, lush verge of the softest wild plants and flowers, a vertical garden more beautiful than any scheme I’ve seen designed and installed elsewhere. The sun was pushing into the camera through the voile of rapeseed at the very top of the verge, and the resulting light was like something out of Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock. In coming days, Red’s Kingdom will be awash with golden fields; in advance of that, enjoy these postcards from the edge.
In addition to taking photographs of various pebbles for my Kick-About No.28-inspired short-film, When I Was A Boy, I Collected Pebbles From The Beach, I needed some more impressionistic imagery too, images that could speak to nostalgia, memory and space. In the week I was due to take these photographs, it was doing nothing but rain, but then late one afternoon, the weather broke, the sun shone and the beach fairly glittered.