Curated by the photography collective ‘Inside the Outside’, Out of the Woods of Thought features work by its founding members Al Brydon, Rob Hudson, Stephen Segasby and Joseph Wright whose collective philosophy hinges on a number of interconnected questions about how we relate to the landscape and the way in which this informs their representation of it in photographic form. Complementing this philosophy is work by a number of handpicked guest exhibitors that include Lynda Laird, Tom Wilkinson, J.M. Golding, Brian David Stevens and Guy Dickinson.
Rob Hudson explains that the images are not simply representations of the landscape but a highly personal engagement with place that goes beyond the literal. These are photographs that have come into being, in Edward Thomas’s phrase, “out of the woods of thought”. They take an idea, story or metaphor and make them visible through a combination of imagination and the photographic print.
Various themes are explored throughout the works.
Al Brydon’s Solargraphs reveal an element of the landscape that we all take for granted – time itself. The exposures in this work are so long they become a reflection upon our lives and our short tenure on this world.
The landscape is riven with myriad forms of conflict (ownership vs access, commercial exploitation vs ecological diversity and borders vs freedom of movement) but it is war that informs Lynda Laird’s Dans le Noir and Rob Hudson’s Mametz Wood.
Stephen Segasby’s Malevolence finds the menace in the dark woods of the Forest of Dean, while Brian David Stevens takes an icon of English identity in Beachy Head to reveal the stories of the suicide attempts which are an all to frequent and tragic occurrence in this place.
Tom Wilkinson’s Blotts Pits engages with the idea of engagement itself – what does photographing the land say about us? Joseph Wright’s The Floods takes an easily ignored ‘scruffy edgeland’ only to reveal the magic within. While JM Golding explores the transition from outer landscapes into inner through the soothing experience of a deep fascination with place.
Finally, Guy Dickinson’s Stations discovers the natural characteristics of the Árann Islands by revealing the physical textures of the rocks themselves, taking us deep into their structure and the vast forces that created them.
Rob Hudson continues: “Finding new ways to engage with the landscape and to express that engagement is key for us. The simple depiction of the landscape as a beautiful untarnished place empty of people and its histories does not tell a whole truth. For if we’re to get out of the woods of the multiple threats of climate change, collapsing biodiversity and the loss of knowledge about, and appreciation of the land, we need to remind people why the land is precious to them.”