Review in arts+culture magazine

Dave Green’s photo exhibition at the Tavistock Wharf revels in discovery of the North Devon coastline

By Heather Smith, on September 22nd, 2009 – from arts+culture magazine

Dave Green, a Bideford-based photographer, reveals hidden parts of the North Devon coastline in his solo exhibition at Tavistock Wharf.

His work is a continuation of his childhood fascination with ?looking for that elusive hidden rock pool teeming with life or being the first person to tread over the sand and discover a cave?.

Seemingly undaunted by tides, he continues to ?discover?, squeezing his adult self into narrow tunnels formed by the pounding ocean and wedging himself at the back of sea caves. He documents his artistic endeavour using a digital camera. In Turbulent Passage, Baggy Point, North Devon 2008, a trail of sea foam on the smooth, untouched sand creates a feeling of isolation and imminent danger, but also wonder at being able to see something usually hidden from the human gaze.

In these meticulously-created Constructed Photographs, Green overcomes the problem of lighting in the cave that would result in dark, detail-less images by taking many different, long-exposure shots and stitching them together in Photoshop. The edges of his work are often left jagged, as if individual photographs have been placed together ? la Hockney. The results are images that reveal the exquisite tones and textures of the rocks within the cave and pictures that have both depth and movement. The viewer is taken on a journey from the dark space of the cave to the glare of the outside light, the secret openings and slick, smooth rocks provoking analogies to birth and ?the feminine.?

The biggest surprise, perhaps, is the way in which Green?s images manage to turn the most hostile and remote of environments into an almost comforting space.

Another highlight from the exhibition is the selection of camera-less images from the1990?s. Created by placing natural materials ? seaweed, nettles and leaves ? directly onto 5 x 7 photographic paper and using the action of sun, water, fixer and developer to form unique pictures, these ?photograms? have a surprisingly wide range of colour and tone. There is evidence of Green?s love of stitching here too as the smaller images are rearranged to create different ?wholes?.

The exhibition runs until Saturday, September 26.

Communication with Bats

I was making the most of the spring tide on Friday 18th September and exploring a bit of the North Devon coast I hadn?t accessed before, via Mouth Mill, on the Hartland Coast. At low tide, midday, I found a shallow but very high cave under Windbury Head with 2 grand pillars of rock holding the cliff up at it?s entrance. The shallowness of the cavern meant I couldn?t photograph it from the back as I usually would so I snuggled up to the wall on the left-hand-side and started to make my constructed image, photographing the boulders at my feet first and moving along the floor and up the right-hand wall with my camera. As my Olympus E3 focuses it emits a high pitched sound; this sound attracted the bats, I?m assuming, as I made no sound and used no flash. The bats, (I?m rubbish at identifying them, bigger than those seen on the Tarka Trail South of Bideford, you could clearly see their ears!) 2 of them flew in formation around the inside of the cave mapping it, then back to the top, out-of-sight, then after seconds, came out again and flew lower down until they were within a few feet of me; then they were gone taking exactly the same flight path back to their roost. I had stayed still all of this time, happy to watch them, and didn?t take anymore pictures whilst they were flying; I was shooting at 1/10 of a second anyway so I couldn?t have photographed them. It seemed as though as soon as they had discovered that it wasn?t another bat making the noise they were happy to go back to bed. I finished taking photographs and didn?t see them again.

It?s unusual to find bats in these sea caves because at high tide the sea is well inside of them and the surf is pounding up the sides and back. In fact, it?s rare to find any life in these places because the environment at high tide is so violent, only the most stubborn limpet will cling onto these walls. However, in this cave, the ceiling was so high, a good 30 feet, and with plenty of jagged crevices to make a home for a bat. I?ve only found bats in one other cave in the cliffs here, and that one was always dry.