Centuries of clearing and cultivation by mankind have eroded our forests. Where the tree was once commonplace, there is little woodland left. Just small, dissipated ‘islands’ of trees, surrounded by a sea of used land. What does remain of this fragmented landscape is, however, largely unaffected by the modern world.
Although dormant through winter, the forest is nevertheless very much a living entity, and an incongruous one at that. When you enter, for example, one’s concept of time appears to change. Inside, the wind is calmed and noise filtered, temperature altered, and light bounced and subdued.
It’s a spiritual place, at times charged with atmosphere. The interior is ‘cathedral-like’, where one’s feelings shift between the reassuringly safe and the disturbingly vulnerable. The essence of this spirit must have inspired the very first pagan and religious structures. With columns of trunks, and canopy blocking out the sky, the forest is far more than a refuge from the open landscape, it’s architectural.
There is no doubt that this ancient natural place is no longer part of the modern human psyche. But, when amongst the trees, it is still possible for one to sense a trace of the primeval. As you move deeper inside the woods, it can feel like you’re being pulled further in, almost magnetically. This sensation may derive from there always being something hidden from view, obscured by either darkness or the trees themselves. Furthermore, this apparent sanctuary of stillness can inexplicably transform. The feeling of shelter and protection that this environment inspires, can change into one of hostility and entrapment. Trees stand like sentinels, others are stolid in ranks, like an army appearing out of the darkness.
Stepping into the forest can feel like a step into the unknown, the shadowy half-light deceiving the senses. This is why it’s so alluring - secretive, mysterious, and precious.
Truncated is a series of black and white photographs produced as toned silver gelatin prints. Printed by the artist at 20 x 24 print size in limited editions of 12. Digital Fibre Prints are also available at 61 x 50" in editions of 5.
Paul Hart BA (Hons.) was born in Deal, England on 20th October 1961. He studied Art and Design at Lincoln college of Art in the 1980’s, and graduated from Nottingham Trent University in 1988 with a BA (Hons.) Photography. Over the past twelve years, Hart has concentrated solely on personal landscape projects in black and white. He prints all of his own work as silver gelatin limited edition prints; darkroom practice being key to his image making process. His work has been widely exhibited in the UK and abroad by galleries such as The Photographer’s Gallery, London, Eric Franck Fine Art and at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London. Internationally, his work has been exhibited at the AIPAD Photography Show, New York, and at Paris Photo, Carrousel du Louvre, Paris.
Paul Hart’s first monograph Truncated was published by Dewi Lewis Publishing in 2008 with an essay by Gerry Badger. Eric Franck Fine Art hosted a book signing at Paris Photo to mark the publication. Hart has received a number of awards notably from the IPA in Los Angeles, and the PX3 Awards in Paris. His work has been featured in numerous magazines and journals including review’s in USA publications Lenswork and B&W Magazine, and UK Black and White Photography Magazine.
Following graduation, Hart worked for several years in advertising photography traveling throughout Europe and the USA. He then embarked on a freelance career specialising in horticultural photography. Hart’s work from this period is represented by Getty Images. From 2000, Hart has concentrated solely on fine art projects focusing on the natural world. His first series, Intimate Plants, was exhibited by The Photographer’s Gallery, London in 2005. Paul Hart has recently collaborated with Ilford-Harman to produce images for their black and white photography paper boxes.
A large part of Hart’s childhood was spent in rural Lincolnshire, and it was this free and unrestrained upbringing that honed his appreciation and understanding of nature, which is so central to his work today. Hart is currently working on new landscape projects.
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