Blood Lake/Still Point/Dark Matter
Blood Lake/Still Point/Dark Matter, an intriguing title for a photography show. HOT’s Lauris Morgan-Griffiths went to find out more about the work of Ian Land, Alexander Brattell and Chris Wainwright at their exhibition at St Mary in the Castle. It’s an interesting show, each photographer political in their own way.
Land and Brattell, both working primarily in black and white, were both infected by the photography bug quite young. It was the magic and mystery that excited them then which has never ceased: from how projects emerge and how they will play out; to seeing their prints slowly appearing in the developing tank. Both men have contradictions in their approach; they love the control of printing film but they equally appreciate the serendipity of what they take, the unknowing and the happy accidents.
Land is primarily a landscape photographer with little interest in nature per se. The work is political in the sense that his photographs are of how people live, and how they construct the world and manage nature. His work is project based and he’s interested in how the images build into a narrative.
“This project, Blood Lake, taken at Senlac Hill, the presumed site of the 1066 Battle of Hastings, was clear in their intention from the outset. Others emerge over months or even years of shooting, as images are shot, printed, and placed together to tell some kind of story.”
Brattell is “interested in resonances that are beyond conscious explanation. My personal photography is a form of divination that attempts to materialise the unrealised. So there are no themes and my work is not specifically about anything although it is informed by a whole range of interests, influences and experiences. Certainly there are motifs and tropes that keep on cropping up, for example simulacra, portals, Geni Loci, images containing text, allegories, metaphors, symbols.” However the tendencies that most concern him are structural: what happens in the corners, how the frame is divided, how different tonalities within the frame interact.
Land’s intention in revisiting Senlac, and other sites important to the battle, is to depict how they appear today. According to Victorian historian E.A Freeman, Senlac translated from Norman French, means Blood Lake. Never has a field been so appropriately named. “Knowing its history, the anonymity of the field is overwhelmed by our knowledge of the slaughter which happened there. I hope the photographs express some of that slightly uneasy mood.”
Brattell explains that Still Point comes from a T S Eliot quote which communicates the sensation that meaning and insight are so often found where there is apparently nothing and that is actually where the real action is. “Each series emerges with a different atmosphere and emphasis. Still Point, pitches a level of acceptance with decay against a heightened sense of discomfort with political and personal divisiveness and pack behaviour. It has bleakness but is not melancholy or cynical and I was surprised at how many of the pictures are concerned with beauty.”
Chris Wainwright is a colour photographer exhibiting a selection of recent work from sites of energy, past, present and future. These images illustrate the endless search and plunder of the earth’s natural resources to feed our demand for energy to replenish our, often thoughtless and irresponsible, escalating levels of consumption. Whether deep below the ice and water of the arctic or the endless search for Dark Matter and the secrets of the Universe, deep underground in the enigmatic, inaccessible, European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) and The Great Hadron Collider beneath Geneva, where work continues to flourish with massive cross European state funding. Sitting between these opposites is coal, traditional and unsustainable in the long term with significant implications for the communities that have depended upon it. Wainwright photographed Kellingley Colliery in Yorkshire, the last deep coal mine in Britain, the day the mine closed on 18 December 2015, .
Blood Lake, Still Point, Dark Matter is at The Crypt, St Mary in the Castle, Pelham Place, Hastings, TN34 3AF from 21 – 27 November 2016. Open daily 10am – 6pm. Private view 20 November 6pm – 8pm
Also in: Photography« Lucy Bell photography
Cookman’s old camera collection »