As an artist I am mainly influenced by the landscape. I am interested in the relationship between the ‘natural’ and the ‘man made’ world. But I also have a more personal consideration towards the contrasting environments of urban and rural living.
The locations that I have selected to be documented need to have struck a cord with my interest and many of these locations I find through hiking and walking. In all the locations that I have documented, I have spent time wandering, whether it was the hills of the peak district or a stroll around a city.
Venturing and exploring has been something that has interested me for as long as I can remember. As a young boy I was fascinated by the ideas that surrounded wilderness and consideration of what one might find has become a line of inquiry in my investigations. Wilderness is defined as an inhospitable region, a region that is wild by nature, but I would argue that our urban streets can also be considered a wilderness.
The following are a small section of the documentation that I take back into the studio, which then becomes a starting point for my practice.
How do I define Wilderness
Wilderness is defined as an uncultivated, uninhabited and inhospitable region. It is often associated with something that is a natural environment, wild and left to natures devices. I feel it is a word to descried something that is unfamiliar to humanity in terms of an environment and that wilderness has a broad spectrum behind its meaning and use. I think there is a relationship between defining wilderness and human engagement, In terms of how much human contact or presence there is in an area, the feeling of remoteness. An example of using the term wilderness in a broad spectrum, I have experienced city centers late at night to be vacant, void of human presence. This feeling of solitude, aloneness and the uncertainty, a sense of apprehension within a location, even a city (the center of humanities society) brings up connotations that I feel could be defined as an experience of wilderness.
In the consideration of nature and the term wilderness I think about the words wild and wildness. I feel that these are places that operate natural process, nature is managing the landscape. This covers the obvious areas of ecosystems such as Forests, desert and many more but I also feel this can cover areas of land left by human engagement. This would then argue that places such as wasteland, edgeland and ruins, areas left abandoned by human interaction and reclaimed by nature to be considered areas of wilderness as natural process is allowed to succeed.
I find ruins fascinating; they have the ability to capture your imagination and are a tangible link in the landscape that gives us a glimpse into the past. Ruins are the remains of human existence and have many meanings: a place of worship or work, a place that we lived in, called home, felt safe, or a place of turmoil, death and destruction. Ruins have the ability to stop and make us think, to try to imagine a period in time or conceive the former appearance, structure and architecture; or try to grasp how something worked, the turning of wheel, the push of button or the pull of a leaver. I feel they are a way of making a connection to the people of the past.
I have recently been debating the idea that areas of ruins and derelict sites might hold qualities to justify them being called a wilderness. This line of enquiry came about due to a conversation with a manager of a nature reserve, who remarked that the majority of the British landscape was heavily managed and largely devoid of true wilderness. The lack of management on the sites of edgelands, wastelands and areas of ruins caused me to ruminate that these environments may be some of the few areas of wilderness. These sites are often left to nature’s devices, abounded and void of human interference, creating a sense of something wild and uninhabitable.
Derby Friargate railway station.
Friar Gate Station closed, along with the The Great Northern Railway Goods Wharf, in 1964. It has since been left abandoned in the centre of Derby and the area is now a natural wilderness and haven to the local wildlife. I am fascinated by the histories attached to the station; locals can still remember it in service and I have spoken with them regarding their memories. These small histories all add to my curiosity in the area. The buildings have become ruins and I find it fascinating to see the process of nature reclaiming the land and the changing role of an environment.
Bleaklow B29 CRASH SITE.
On a walking trip up Bleaklow (a mountain in the Peak District) I came across the wreckage of a B29 Bomber aircraft, that crashed in 1948. The wreckage seemed to be well visited, with remembrance tributes left to the crew of those that had been killed in the crash. Later I found out that the site was a sort of trekkers pilgrimage and was respected by all as a site of remembrance. The wreckage has been left against the elements. The stripped back landscape and the aircraft shell form a juxtaposition between the natural and manmade, and bleakness and beauty. The wreckage seems alien against the backdrop of the stark yet beautiful mountain plateau; the mangled metal and landscape forms a visually engaging subject which raised my interests in the location.
I spent some 20 years growing up in Misson, a small rural farming village on the borders of Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire. It was isolated, with two roads being all that connected it with the world. On three sides farmland stretch for a far as the eye can see, the fourth side to the south, a river restricts access. I feel it was here that I first became interested in exploring the landscape and was my first experience of a landscape that had seemingly been forgotten. Many disused quarries that dotted the area had been turned into places of wilderness, a haven where nature had begun the process of reclaiming. The holes quarried for sand became ponds, the tracks and roads overgrown and buildings and machinery swallowed by the land. The densely compacted trees, abandoned buildings and machinery offer a post apocalyptic landscape yet ironically this place offered a gang of kids a safe haven. This forgotten wilderness gave birth to an interest in wastelands, edgelands and the affects of humanity on the landscape, which I have continued to debate in my practice.
Snowdonia and the Peak District.
I have spent many years visiting the national parks of Snowdonia and the Peak District. I have increasingly become interested in our industrial impact on the landscape, both modern and historical. The photo documentation demonstrates a selection of sites I have visited, including the foot of Mount Snowden and the Magpie Mine in the Peak District.
The City and Suburbs.
Growing up in a rural village and subsequently moving to a city, shaped an interest in the contrasting living environments. I have contemplated the idea of interpreting the city, through my eyes, as a new wilderness. I initially found the atmosphere of living in a city to be chaotic, with the bustle of the noisy streets and the constant sense of movement. There is a feeling of city life, the necessity to consume, and work, with which I became immersed and in turn informed my practice.