As digitiser for Beaford Arts, Hidden Histories project, I have the privilege of seeing all of Roger Deakins’ and James Ravilious’ 10,000 images in the Beaford Archive. As a photographer, I have left myself open to any influence on my own work gained through this exposure. I’ve found myself drawn to the hinterland between urban areas and the moors, the edges of farmland, areas left to wild, in this lush fertile land know as North Devon. I’m inspired by these quiet, contemplative landscapes, devoid of landmarks or horizon, which are not descriptive of a specific place but describe perfectly this region. In response and in comparison, to Ravilious’ images, my own are a soft, warm, saturated green, the colour of North Devon. The Beaford Archive is a social documentary archive of North Devon from the 1970’s and 1980’s but these intimate landscapes I’m hoping will be more timeless, looking the same now as they were then. “In Wildness is the Preservation of the World,” wrote Henry David Thoreau in 1856, and these archived images should act as a warning to intensive farming which would destroy this unique eco-system forever.
These images are featured in my new gallery page Green and Pleasant Land.
The work I am doing for Beaford Arts is already influencing me: I?m starting to see in monochrome again. This is where every photographer started in the age of film, and where I too started in 1985, when I returned to my old comprehensive school to gain a few more qualifications, shooting a roll of black and white film for my CSE Art and Design.
I?ve been an adamant colour photographer since the early 1990?s over the last few years even doggedly squeezing the colour out of dull grey rocks, however North Devon has so many shades of green that sometimes, like Ravilious and Deakins did before, you just want to convert those shades to grey scale.