Spaces and Traces is a new body of work in which the body and materials such as fabrics are brought into the landscape to create abstractions, traces, and marks, evidence of presence and passing, for the camera. These exist side by side with photographs and video of the landscapes themselves, which are the sites of family history reaching back generations into the past to explore the relationship of the self with the land physically, psychologically and spiritually. The photographs explore my personal relationship with the landscape, as providing a sense of place and belonging, as well as a more expansive consideration of the human relationship with nature and the land, that places us in relationship, in contingency with the wild places we often forget because of our increasingly urban existences.
While some aspects of this project are about my own interior experience, I believe my interest and desire for turning inwards and to connect with the landscape of my familial historical past to better understand my inner world and relationship to the external, are relevant to how we face current challenges of climate, culture, and possible future outcomes.
All of us come from somewhere. Reconnecting to these lineages through the human body and the planetary body, the landscape itself, may be critical to regaining moral, ethical, spiritual balance. Many of us live in a trance of fear and anxiety, treading a hedonic treadmill, believing the answers are out there somewhere with the next acquisition of material objects, accomplishments etc., further complicated by the plurality of possible realities in which the lines between simulation and reality are increasingly blurred. Yet by connecting to our own embodied experiences, to the landscape which forms us, we might find hope and energy, a way forward.
As Robert MacFarlane puts it, “Then I looked back across the landscape before me: the roads, the railway, the incinerator tower and the woodlands. The woods were spread out across the land and they were seething. Wildness was here, a short mile south of the town in which I lived. It was set about by roads and buildings, much of it was menaced, and some of it was dying. But at that moment the land seemed to ring with a wild light.”