Landscapes fascinate me. It’s not just the big sweeping forms, although they are at the centre of the aesthetic that I often connect with most easily, but the almost imperceptible details; the trace of a path, the vegetation, the soil profiles, the archaeology and geology beneath….and the social dimensions that may be almost invisible. I love the way that it is possible, by training your eye, to either start locating clues visually, working in sharp focus, or conversely, to squint and blur the view, so that you only see the big shapes – the big brush marks.
Sometimes, as on a visit to my beloved Donegal, you need to blur things, where the scatter of modern houses, left as if by a giant with a saltshaker, can be almost such a distraction as to prompt a disconnect. Other times, whilst walking in those same hills, which on a bleak, grey, wet day can leave the senses potentially numb, just focussing on the flowers in amongst the heather; tormentil, lady’s bedstraw, heath bedstraw, thyme, harebell, asphodel, lungwort, milkwort, you can be drawn into the web of connections that is at the heart of any place, whether they be natural…., social or economic.
The main feature of many of these photographs is the path. I spend a lot of my time walking, at least an hour a day, but more when I get the chance. Walking opens up so many connections and stories, whether through what we see, what we find, or through the people we meet.
These photographs are a start at capturing my obsession with layers in the landscape.
Finally, I include a photograph here of the late, great Mick Wilkinson, taken on an Autumn morning in 2015, where I stumbled across him, emptying out-of-date cherries from small tubs into a bucket for his cows. Mick worked with the legendary country potter Isaac Button in his youth, and was a veritable mine of information. He could tell a story and give you a depth of understanding that is so often missing in the books and web-pages, better than pretty much anyone I have ever met. The gate was his clue for me to find clay that he was happy for me to dig. I will never forget his kindness and enthusiasm.