The exercise requires an homage to a photographer of my choosing. I am asked to select a particular photograph and respond to it in whatever form I might wish.
The photographer chosen is Joseph Wright and the particular image is Image 4 from his series Edgelands – The Floods and is reproduced here for educational purposes.
Image 4, by Joseph Wright. Slide show link: Edgelands – The Floods
Joseph’s Wight’s series, taken between 2012 and 2014 is described as a work that, “explores the antithesis of the pastoral landscape, grounded in its Englishness,” (Wright, J, [http://www.joewrightphotography.com]). The series takes us on a “part autobiographical, documentary and environmental journey,” (Wright, J, Ibid).
The location used for the homage is called the Serpentine and set within the grounds of Wentworth Castle, Barnsley. It has both similarity and difference to the places described by Wright. The Serpentine was originally a man-made ‘lake’ formed to look like a winding river below the frontage of the house.
Map of Wentworth Castle (Reproduced for educational purposes including annotation of Serpentine and highlight of relevant text.) (Source – http://www.wentworthcastle.org/parkland-map)
The Serpentine has over time, become, and been allowed to become more natural looking as nature has taken hold of its previous forming somewhat similarly to the statement on the title page of the video embedded in the Edgelands – The Floods page on Wright’s website which reads, “Nature has its own order,” (Wright, J, Ibid). Yet this place, the Serpentine, can also take me on a journey of autobiography as Wright has stated in relation to his Floods series. If, as asserted at 00:35 in the Floods video, we can accept that, “We are nature” we can see a journey here in this man-made Serpentine as Wright can see a journey in the forgotten areas he invites us to view found in and around Swindon during times when there had been heavy rainfall.
The documentary aspect of the Wright’s work and mine has difference. Wright’s choices for his images have been that they have been shot at times of significantly different weather conditions over a period of time, creating a series and the locations chosen are those that are, “land now abandoned with no perceived usage,” (Wright, J, Ibid). That they have direct contrast with my chosen subject area, a feature of a former stately home, now open to the public, is plain. That some of the other shots I took further along the Serpentine showed the ‘bed’ of the ‘river’ due to the lack of rain pre-shooting also contrasts and I made no attempt to wait for any forecast of mist.
The environmental statement of Wright’s images is vastly larger than I am making in my homage. His images speak of, “remnants of a heavily wooded and once valued countryside”(Ibid), whilst the homage says of a former family’s desire to create a sense of beauty that imitated nature. It could be said that the message of the Floods is not opposed however to the message that can be seen in my homage of an attempt to recreate what sometimes feels to be missing. That Joseph Wright sees, like woodland conservationists a loss of the past, a loss of environment is, for me, only emphasised by witnessing this attempt to create natural looking beauty that becomes further allowed to be taken by nature and by management to include some of the trees that can be seen growing in the Serpentine.
The post processing of the homage image was chosen to be in keeping with the weather conditions and specific environment rather than to emulate the style of Joseph Wright. These images fit their respective paradigms and to attempt to force the Serpentine into Joseph Wright’s style would not have worked.
Wright, Joseph – Website Main/Home page [http://www.joewrightphotography.com/ – Last accessed 02/11/2016]
Wright, Joseph – Edgelands – The Floods [http://www.joewrightphotography.com/the-floods/ – Last accessed – 02/11/2016]