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.
British photographer Paul Hart (b. 1961) explores our relationship with the landscape, in both a humanistic and socio-historical sense. His series concentrate on a specific geographical region, where he photographs intensively over a number of years. He works primarily with the black and white analogue process and employs traditional darkroom practice to convey something of the soulful in landscapes which are rarely considered of any aesthetic merit.
Prints are gelatin silver printed by the artist up to 20"x24" in limited editions. Large-scale digital fibre prints are also available up to 40" x 50".
British photographer Paul Hart (b. 1961) explores our relationship with the landscape, in both a humanistic and socio-historical sense. His series concentrate on a specific geographical region, where he photographs intensively over a number of years. He works primarily with the black and white analogue process and employs traditional darkroom practice.
Hart studied Art & Design at Lincoln College of Art (UK) and graduated from Nottingham Trent University (UK) in 1988 with a BA (Hons) in Photography. He has concentrated on long term self-initiated projects for the past sixteen years. His work has been widely exhibited, most recently at; The Austrian Cultural Forum (London), The Photographers’ Gallery Print Room, (London), The Royal Photographic Society (Bristol, UK), The Royal Academy of Arts (London), The University of Cambridge (UK), and The Cultural Foundation ARCADE (Dijon, France). Hart’s work is regularly shown at major art fairs including : Photo-London and Paris Photo.
To widespread critical acclaim Hart has published three monographs with Dewi Lewis Publishing ; TRUNCATED (essay : Gerry Badger, 2009), FARMED (essay : Collier Brown, 2016) & DRAINED (essay : Francis Hodgson, 2018). He has won a number of awards and in 2018 was awarded the inaugural Wolf Suschitzky Photography Prize & Residency and shortlisted for the Mark Rothko Memorial Trust Award. His work resides in the V&A Museum Collection (London), the Ivor Braka Collection (London), the MoMA Library Collection (NYC) and the Martin Parr Foundation Library (Bristol, UK).
Hart’s work is regularly reviewed in the press by publications such as; The Daily Telegraph (UK), Aesthetica Magazine (UK), LensCulture (France) & LensWork (USA). Getty images represent his early-career horticultural portfolio working with clients such as The Royal Horticultural Society & BBC Worldwide.
Paul Hart lives and works in Lincolnshire, England and is currently completing the part of his Fenland landscape series, titled RECLAIMED which will be published early 2020.
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