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Storm. Polzeath, Cornwall

Storm. Polzeath, Cornwall

Local panoramic seascapes in black and white

Jeremy Llewellyn-Jones was all ready to hang his exhibition last year at Hastings Arts Forum when Covid locked everything down. Now slightly revised, and with fingers crossed, it is ready to open. HOT’s Lauris Morgan-Griffiths was intrigued to know more about his amazing seascapes taken at Pett Level, east Hastings, and Polzeath, Cornwall.

Llewellyn-Jones lived in Kenya for the first 20 years of his life. He evidently loved the sea and remembers as a child kicking the waves and ripples in the warm Indian Ocean imagining they might wash up and be felt by his grandparents on the south coast of England. And now he is here, kicking those ripples and waves back towards his childhood home.

He arrived in Hastings via Kenya and London, where he  studied at the London College of Printing and Royal College of Art, made films until 2017 when he had a short impulsive, detour to France, eventually landing here in 2019.

He will be exhibiting ten vast, mainly, monochrome, panoramic seascapes. They are so large you can be absorbed and lose yourself in them. (One was so large, the cost of the glass for framing was inhibitive, so the image size was reduced.) Taken during the pandemic they have a sense of a blasted heath of a beach; Pett Level feels like old land imbued with history and stories hidden in its depths.

It is an environment that is marked and permeated by the past, infusing into now and on into the future. I don’t know Polzeath but at Pett Level you only have to scramble over the rocks, mud, petrified forest, and if you’re lucky finding fossils, dinosaur imprints and wrecks to sense the presence of a vivid time gone by.

New day, Pett Level

Llewellyn-Jones explains, “Making photographs of the land reveals what history and time have done to the landscape because the past is always evident. There is clear confirmation of huge environmental shifts embedded in the geography, the result over millions of years of dramatic geological upheavals. Also evident are the scars of human intervention.”

“It’s a liminal environment showing signs of the coastal defences built against possible invasion: the 28 mile Military Canal which runs  from Folkestone to Pett Level; the pill boxes and the Sound Mirrors in Kent and East Sussex built to detect incoming enemy aircraft. It’s a narrative that’s constantly rewritten – every minute, every hour, every day it’s different.”

“These panoramas are made from multiple images understandable in their own right, that depict a reality seen just before the click of the shutter. Once merged into a single large image they become a true likeness, a photograph with true documentary value recording what time, history and people have done to the land, sea and sky.”

Daybreak, Pett Level

As anyone who lives by the sea knows, it is mesmerising, it is never the same. Endless variations. Llewellyn-Jones’ images point up the weather changes: storms coming in; clouds; sunset and rise, moonscapes. The images mark the marine moods, calm, seductive, beautiful but an environment which demands respect; which can change in a moment, benign one day, malign and dangerous the next.

These panoramas depict a seamless landscape, beautiful and menacing. They are seductive. Shadows can litter the sea from a barely evident sun, the sea changes colour – it is not always greyish brown, it can be blue and green; a white line marks the horizon, clouds roll in warning of an impending storm. Endless variations.

Before moving here I thought it was a romantic Victorian notion that the moon cast its light as a runway across the sea. But it really does. In front of these giant panoramas, you can be there in spirit, feel the drama, danger, magic and beauty of it all. And respect it.

In the Beginning … imagining a post apocalyptic landscape is on at Hastings Arts Forum, 20 Marine Court, TN38 0DX from 18 to 30 May. Opening times Sun-Sat 11:00-17:00.

All images © Jeremy Llewellyn-Jones


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Posted 19:51 Thursday, May 13, 2021 In: Photography

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