September 8  - 15

"English Landscape"
Terence Wright, Kate Mellor, Charlie Meecham
United Kingdom

Exhibition of photography

61 photographs of 3 artists are exhibited:
Terry Wright - EXLIBRIS & other photographs
Kate Mellor - "Blue Shift"
Charlie Meecham - "The E20 Project - The M62 Section".

Terence Wright is a photographer living in Oxfordshire, UK. He is also a Visiting Research Fellow at the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford where he is working on his project ‘Moving Images: Media Images of Refugees’.  He is a Visiting Tutor in Visual Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. Formerly he taught Visual Studies for eight years at the UK’s National Film and Television School and was Reader in Media Arts at the University of Luton. In 1986 he was awarded a PhD by the University of London for his work on Photography, Art and Visual Perception. In addition to his photography work (for BBC Television, Independent Television News, etc.), he has written ‘The Photography Handbook’ (published by Routledge) and is currently writing ‘Visual Impact: Culture and the Meaning of Images’ for Berg publishers and ‘Photography: the Key Concepts’ for Routledge. He has written extensively on photography, given conference papers world-wide and has exhibited his photographs in the UK, Poland and Russia. In collaboration with the Polish Academy of Sciences, he recently curated the exhibition ‘Malinowski – Witkacy. Photography: between Science and Art’ which took place this June as part of the festival Krakow 2000.

The series Ex Libris is concerned with the representation of landscape: the ways that aspects of the environment are categorized and documenting some written poetic responses. The photographs invite the viewer to compare different forms of representation - the book contains one package of information which the photograph has encapsulated together with a small section of the landscape. The images aim to be evocative of Victorian typologies, while conveying a sense of reflection and contemplation.

Traditionally landscape photography has been concerned with exploring the 'picturesque', yet the photographs on display aim to invite the viewer to question our awareness of the changing environment. They aim for a simplicity in their selection, but hope to reveal some of the complexities of environmental change. The camera has the potential to reveal aspects of the landscape which would normally go unnoticed. The changing light and the seasonal transformations of the landscape can be recorded and compared. Where traces of human activity can be discovered, parts of the landscape stand as empty stage sets - a witness to something having taken place, yet anticipating future activity.

The photographs mark the passage of time; recording the changes that occur in the environment due to the passing seasons, the weather and human activity. They present the characteristic features of the landscape: trees, plants, farm carts, etc. combined with observations of the colour and changing light so as to convey the atmosphere of each location. Many of the photographs reflect remnants of childhood memory as well as historical changes that have taken place. 

Kate Mellor is a British landscape photographer best known for her series of panoramic images of the British coast; the exhibition "Island: The Sea Front," which explores notions of territory, until recently toured by the Impressions Gallery, York and now by the British Council.  A book of the exhibition "Island" has been published by Dewi Lewis.

"Blue shift" - This work is from a photographic sequence following the river Calder.
    If you walk a mere 50 paces from this station you come to a bridge where you can see the water on its way across Yorkshire. The source rises several hundred feet above Todmorden - the next station on the up line.
    If you take the down line you will follow roughly the course of the Calder in the direction of Leeds. It joins the Aire and later, travelling onwards, the Ouse and the Humber, reaching Hull. From here you can take the boat to Rotterdam, following a preceding route of the river in the age when this island was attached to the mainland of Europe.
   The sequence is not only about this one kind of journey, the joining of rivers creating an historic international route way. It also signifies movement on social and environmental levels, referring to a journey from rural roots to urban development - a process which gives rise to a collective nostalgia. The industrial revolution can be seen to be still playing itself out along the river - from the clear open space of moors grazed by dwindling flocks of sheep  to the crumbling mills further down the valley.
   The image of the river has the associative qualities of purity and this is how we like to imagine the river still exists - as a place where children can safely dabble and dam in the little pools and reaches. We hold to this picture of  innocence and purity at the very same time that we know much of the environment is, in fact, degraded. (The river Calder flows perhaps a quarter of a mile before working its way through a coal dump; notices near Dewsbury give telephone numbers for those unfortunate enough to fall in - nearby are signs of little dams and tracks of small fingers in the mud; a stretch near Elland is pronounced "biologically dead".)
    The properties of water, carrying material around the physical support system, are essentially of fluidity and interconnection, moving from one area to another. The intention of the aesthetic is to accentuate this quality. The photographic method echoes the effect water has on light - refracting it, bending the wavelengths a little. It is also easier to live with the illusion of the pure landscape. It is the dream image which persists in the back of our minds as we conduct our daily lives, largely on traffic filled roads, bent over the computer, walking through the anonymous spaces of modern urbanized life, the airport, the malls.
    But we remain unsettled in our urban environment which is why we reproduce the landscape features, source and waterfall in architectural concrete and steel at the heart of our cities - these are monuments to our connections with a natural world, a world from which we cannot be parted.

Blue shift is a scientific term. In the 1960s a shift in the wavelengths of red light being emitted from distant bodies in space supported the 'big bang' theory, proving that these stars were moving away and therefore establishing that the universe was expanding. Artists and authors at the time stripped this term of its scientific context using this concept of a shift in light by culturally associating it to such ideas as images and actions from a past time connecting with the present, or simply that of expansion in any area of life. A  blue shift in wavelengths of light is the opposite in principle.

Charlie Meecham "The E20 Project - The M62 Section".

The E20 is a designated Euro Route that runs from Limerick to St. Petersburg and forms part of a European network of road and rail routes designed to provide trade connecting the EEC countries together. The E20 crosses Britain via the M62. 

This project grew out of an earlier commissions to photograph a section of the road that runs through Hull from the ferry terminal to the Humber Bridge. For my part, I decided to make two sets of pictures, one series being taken from moving vehicles including buses and trains and the other from fixed positions sometimes looking back or responding to various questions raised be the travelling glance, the idea being to set up a dialogue by pairing the pictures and possible forming a sort of visual echo. 
    Working the first section of the project encouraged me to extend this idea across this country and further afield along the whole route. I saw this as an opportunity of forming a link with Europe. The route goes through Northern Scandinavian countries rather than across the central mainland. My first thoughts centered on the history of early trade routes such as salt ways and silk routes. The countries that this road passes through could create a variety and a progression of images. 
    This year I have concentrated on the M62 and have made several journeys with regular drivers. I have found that the whole process of travel, in particular, our expectations and perceptions are both framed and modified by our experience in an isolating way. Containerization also means that truck drivers only do certain sections of the route and increased speed and comfort have had a tendency to cut us off from outside world - communication is mainly through phone and radio. 
    What is foremost is the aspect of encroachment. We may have been made very aware of the pressures put upon the landscape by yet more road building, but from the perception of the traveling along this route, we can also recognize that a huge amount of new building is being erected within access of the road. It is only when the M62 as a corridor route way crosses the Pennines that there is a pause in this development, but on either side new estates for housing and trade are fast advancing. Sadly the architectural styles are now so pre-packaged that there is little to define regional distinction or style.

Charlie Meecham

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