Monday, 14 March 2011

Coming Up: Glyn Davies looks at the art of landscape photography

Glyn Davies©

"After 24 years of full time professional photography, and four years in photographic education, I have given up everything except landscape photography (and occasional portrait shoots) as I wanted to go back to where I started, which was my love for the blend of landscape and photography. Brought up in windswept Cornwall, a rich rural landscape bordered by spectacular coastline, resilient granite, changeable weather and monstrous seas, it has influenced most major decisions I've made in life. I was also surrounded by other artists who painted, sculpted, drew and photographed the landscape, all differently, all personally. Think back to the sixties, when I was in early childhood, and there was a major art movement in Cornwall, "The St Ives School", as diverse as it was new, from Terry Frost, Barbara Hepworth and Peter Lanyon, to the naive and inspirational art of fisherman Alfred Wallis. Their art inspired later generations but they were all heavily inspired themselves by landscape and the sea. They didn't stick to formulas, they didn't follow rules about what to do and how to fit in, they simply took the subject matter which inspired them and expressed their ideas through their work.

The difficulty I see with photography is that it doesn't have the same tactile (sensual) connection, and the equipment and two dimensional media can lead to a homogenisation of output, at a surface level at least. I see that it is much harder in some ways therefore, for a photographic artist to produce work that is as personal and liberating as a true and free thinking painter or sculptor. Harder, but not impossible. I have really enjoyed landscape work from photographers including the likes of Ansel Adams (in my early days anyway), John Blakemore, Joel Meyerowitz, Thomas Joshua Cooper, John Davies, Jem Southam, Simon Culliford, Philippe Plisson, recent work by Nadav Kander,  and perhaps most of all, James Ravillious but they all work in very different different ways and this is very clearly identifiable in their imagery.     

For me, although I create imagery for myself primarily, there is nothing more rewarding than finding that they also excite, engage, inspire or move other people, spiritually and emotionally. When some viewers have been moved to tears after allowing their minds to wander within my landscapes, I know I have created something beyond superficial delight, an empathy through the work, shared thoughts and emotions. This is not a landscape discipline, this is not a routine adherence to accepted formula. Although I use adjustment layers in the same way as dodging and burning in the wet darkroom, I am nevertheless attempting to present my own emotional response to the landscape as honestly as possible to the viewer.'

This Friday,acclaimed Welsh landscape photographer,Glyn Davies looks at what defines landscape photography from the perspective of someone who values the spiritual dimension of the natural environment.An environment which all too often is reduced to the status of a mere outside studio by some who would consider themselves as serious 'landscape photographers'.