'Lila' Towards an Exhibition

Hello again, a rather delayed Blog, (only just out of hibernation) to announce the next collection.

The new collection on my website will be a small collection of images from my exhibition 'Lila'.

During the mid 1970s I was working towards an exhibition to fulfil a second ACGB bursary. I wanted to explore in more depth the idea of the landscape as energy clarified for me by the stream sequence 'All Flows'. I planned an exhibition structured around four themes; light, water, the grasses and trees that form the living landscape and the wind.Light was inevitable, water, my strategies already known and practiced, the wider landscape of trees and grasses not problematic. The wind, how to photograph it?

I had imagined similarities between wind and water. Both affect the landscape. Both shape the landscape and are shaped by it. I had begun to experiment, unsuccessfully, prior to my winter in Wales and on my return to Derbyshire returned to the problem.

When I first decided to photograph the wind I has assumed similarities of movement between wind and water and that a long exposure would yield the result that I wanted. Experience proved me wrong. I found what I considered to be a suitable site, worked out my exposure, opened the shutter, the wind stopped blowing, the time of exposure elapsed, the wind blew again! I had to rethink.           I spent much time watching the movement of wind-blown foliage. Unlike the continuity of flowing water the wind is capricious, it's flow varied and inconsistent. How to deal with this? I decided that the answer was, again, multiple exposure and began exploring possibilities.

The first exposures I made were tentative, the full exposure broken into five exposures on the same negative. It worked, giving me the striated highlights that I wanted, that implied movement. I continued to explore, increasing the number of exposures to produce a web of movement and light. The image that introduces this blog was made with thirty exposures, some when the foliage was still and some when the wind created movement.To expose a negative might take an hour, waiting for movement, for sunlight.

It is , of course, impossible to photograph the wind. In a 1990s catalogue I wrote 'The idea of photographing the wind contains a paradox. The photograph describes surface appearances, the wind is invisible. To depict the traces of the wind, movement etched in light, I evolved a method of multiple exposure. The relationship of the photograph to time was thus extended, the exposures a mapping of time, equivalent to the process of the landscape itself'                           I was now ready to continue photographing, to accumulate images, to plan my sequences.

In the early 1970s a friend (Martin Roberts) and I had worked through and began to use the Zone System. My ideas of print tonality were irrevocably changed. This expansion of understanding had become very important both in my image making and in my plans for the exhibition. I planned to use print tonality as a structuring device within the sequences.

So to 'Lila'. Lila is a Sanskrit word meaning literally to play, but a play rich in a complexity that encompasses the processes of creation, destruction and renewal , of life and death.

The form of the exhibition would be in four sequences each of twelve images with a larger image in it's own space between sequences two and three. Each sequence would also be structured in triptychs as a form of punctuation.

Sequence 1. Introduced the motifs that would be explored in the exhibition. For me it was also a meditation on the differences between image and language. Language functions by dividing reality into convenient categories, tree, rock, water for example. The image may invoke previously unrecognised similarities that reveal the unity that underlies the apparent diversity of appearances.The prints are all of a normal full tonality.

Sequence 2. Explored the activity of the wind in a woodland space. It began with images where the effect of the wind was only minimally present and progressed to images dominated by movement. Beginning with pale images the prints grew darker as the sequence progressed.

Single larger image (Lathkill Dale)

Sequence 3. This sequence celebrates the energy of plant growth. The images are structured around the life cycle of bracken. The opening images are light in tone becoming darker as the sequence progresses.

Sequence 4. To be alone in the landscape can be an intense and moving experience. At time a feeling of oneness, at other times the landscape may feel hostile, indifferent. I have at times fled the landscape overwhelmed by it's apparent hostility. It is these negative connotations, energy as both creation and destruction that I wished to explore, the prints uniformly sombre in tonality.

I only have a very small selection of prints available from 'Lila'