Bristol Through the Lens

BRISTOL THROUGH THE LENS

2010

So integral to the beauty of photography is the landscape genre and the associated conventions of the viewpoint. Tourist vistas in particular draw on a rich Romantic tradition of image-making, especially in the English picturesque, where the evocation of nature and man’s control over it continues to lend itself to photography’s preoccupation with windows on the world. In this series, I turned my attention to my home landscape, Bristol, where I was born and lived for over 20 years. The manmade and geographical features had become, over time, part of my inner landscape, an accrual of stone glimpses in sunshine and rain, of sought-out seasons and tidal transformation through lived-in habitual travel and faith-filled looking.

It seemed to me that I needed to recreate photographically the accumulated immersive experience of spiritually and emotionally looking at place this way. I found inspiration in the work of pinhole photographer Justin Quinnell, the tiltshift views by Andy Clifford, and the spherical and contact-sheet collages of Ed Hill and Thomas Kellner respectively, all of whom I discuss in my essay ‘Photographing the Bristol Landscape’. Like them, I explore a deepened perception and kaleidoscopic way of seeing rather than the subject itself, finding the changing physical environment to be synchronous with my own dynamic experience. In particular, my responses to architecture, including places of worship, such as the commissioned New Room Four Ways and Lighting up the Landscape, develop a Hockney-esque cubism, treating linear forms in an expanded, refracted way. For Hockney, this was an explicitly theological reframing of human perspective within reflexive and infinite variation, which I was keen to evoke.