Early landscapes - Fragments

My landscape work began in Wales, around the Mawdach Estuary. I had spent the winter of 1968 in a flat overlooking the estuary and when the urge to photograph asserted itself it was to this area that I returned.

The intricacy and majesty of the estuary became a backdrop. I was drawn not to the picturesque, but to those details which implied the forces which shaped the landscape. At first, details of tree trunks,the marks of time which I later, as images accumulated, defined as 'wounds'. Signs of the passing of time, of the effects of natural forces charting the life experience of the tree.

So the idea for the 'Wounds of Trees' sequence was born. The second significant realisation was my defining the images as 'metaphors', paralleling my own mental state at the time - a personal wounding. A recognition of the duality of possible meaning that an image or accumulation of images might afford.The photograph gives a precise description of an aspect of the real yet in its transformation of that reality it may become about something else. That movement from 'description' to 'transformation' allows for a proliferation of possible meanings, a wealth of connotations.

But how to organise, to structure the images? The need for sequence begins when the single image is no longer sufficient. When the process of picture making becomes a process of collecting, of exploring an area of subject matter. The result of this process we might define as a 'series' (thirty photographs of door furniture or road cones for example). The sequence might be of an event, of it's unfolding through time the images charting the unfolding of the event.The sequence, as I began to define it was different, it involved the recognition of correspondences, of shape, of mood, of connotation.

In his book 'Mirrors Messages Manifestations' Minor White wrote of the sequence:

'When I feel the need of bigger images enlargements won't always do. So I make constellations of photographs or sequence them into larger images'

'A picture story explains and demonstrates. A sequence sustains the feeling states'

'To engage a sequence we keep in mind the photographs on either side of the one in our eye'

The 'Wounds of Trees' work and the sequence I worked on in tandem with it became the basis of my first landscape exhibition at Impressions Gallery in 1974. The completed sequence was thirteen photographs, most of them I no longer have prints of.

With those remaining however, I can give an idea of my thought process.

The sequence was formally contained by the arching shapes of the images 0 and 4, the intricate scarring of image 2 was for me the key image of the sequence and became the central image.





Building a sequence with an odd number of images allows for a central image which by utilising spacing ( a form of punctuation) becomes a visually dominant image.The act of sequencing is for me a process of moving towards an understanding of the work I have made, a vehicle for an intense scrutiny of the work.

I will return to the discussion of sequence with later collections of work.