Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

© Tim Nathan

Tim Nathan all at sea

The Lucy Bell Gallery has staged a very different exhibition from the often-featured pop icons which regularly populate her walls. This exhibition is fresh, vibrant, immersive. all about the sea. Like so many others before her, Lauris Morgan-Griffiths was drawn here through her love of the the ocean, and was bowled over by these extraordinary images when she went to talk to the photographer Tim Nathan.

The sea might well be on our doorstep and you only have to walk a few steps to see its ever changing moods, tones and colours. But to find the sea sitting in a gallery, feeling so huge, alive and present is quite extraordinary. In my own way I have attempted to take pictures of waves – near impossible, my seascapes have a certain resonance, but these images take sea photography to a stratospheric level.

You can feel yourself on the sea’s edge, looking out into the vastness feeling  your smallness, humble.

So why the title of the exhibition?

Tim Nathan is quick to say he is not a photographer. He could have fooled me.

© Tim Nathan

He is a multi-disciplinarian artist: a skilled bronze founder, a successful film director, a music video maker, photographer and designer, creative, an equestrian artist, drawer and sculptor. These seascapes are the result of the inundating effect of Lockdown compounded by a breakdown back in December 2020. From previous knowledge of a breakdown he understood what he was going through but that does not make it any less painful.

There is an old adage that ‘if you always do the same things, you will always get the same results’. So Nathan decided to change his whole routine – flick his switch. He started to go for a walk each day, take photographs, eat differently, stopped drinking and took up yoga.

He would make sure he was doing something all the time, keeping on, keeping on. He would go down to the sea every day, perhaps five or six times, and take a photo of the ever changing panorama. Some days the clouds might be Turneresque, others the sea placidly calm, colours layered like a Rothko painting.

Extraordinary effect

They really capture what is in front of you in all its immensity. The moodiness, the excitement, the mystery and the quietude. In some photographs the blackness is intense and yet when I look into it I can see movement and colour, then I raise my eyes to see a band of light on the horizon being weighed down by heavy clouds. I love that pink horizon line. Extraordinarily, the sea is often very still, no wind and only sluggish waves hardly bothering to break onto the beach. The sky can sometimes be quite grey, with no sight of the sun, yet pools of sunlight break onto the sea.

© Tim Nathan

I get lost in the watery images. And so, apparently have others. For Nathan this project has been a way out of a depression. And he is not alone. Over the pandemic people have been drawn to fresh horizons and the power of nature has proved strong. When people are passionate, emotional and really feel something, they can transmit their emotions and others react. This has occurred over and over again – there have been some strong reactions  to the depth of emotion, the changing elements and the sensitivity of Nathan’s eye.

Some photographers can photoshop the life out of an image. These are not, although  he does admit to minimal intervention. There is an honesty about the images that can be hard to absorb. He does not baulk from the blackness and heaviness of the sea and clouds, yet there is hope in the horizon line and a peace in the calmness.

Suddenly this body of new work has led to unimagined contacts. He posted images on Instagram and Facebook and suddenly he was becoming noticed. A management consultancy, Good Governance Institute, contacted him wanting 100 images  – and then helped him mount an exhibition of the work.

The musician Kevin Armstrong, who had worked with David Bowie, and with whom Nathan had also worked on the Iggy Pop film Squirrel Mountain, saw them on Instagram, recognised the emotional depths, got in touch and wanted Nathan to collaborate on a film with a song he had written, Save your Breath. A beautiful tender film and song.

For someone who claims he is not a photographer it has been an amazing journey. And something he is very proud of. And will the sea visits stop now? No, he will still be taking his walk by the sea taking photographs of that never the same, ever changing, landscape.

Tim Nathan Flip the Switch is at Lucy Bell Gallery, 46 Norman Road, St Leonards-on-Sea TN38 0EJ until 15 October. Open Thursday-Sunday, 11am-4pm.


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Posted 21:22 Wednesday, Sep 29, 2021 In: Photography

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