Poetry of Place: Paul Hart’s Landscapes
British photographer, Paul Hart (b.1961) has spent the past thirteen years exploring human relationships with the land through photographs largely devoid of people. His interest is both humanistic and socio-historical, using sequences of specific landscapes to highlight nature’s innate ability to self-preserve whilst addressing contemporary issues on the effect of human intervention and damage to the natural order.
Poetry of Place is Paul Hart’s first solo exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery and brings together three related series: Truncated (2005-2008), Farmed (2009-2015) and Drained (2016-2017). Each focuses on a precise geographical region, which Hart has photographed intensively over a number of years.
Truncated is a study of an ageing pine forest plantation in Derbyshire, England. Through arresting images of the vertiginous pine trees – seeming almost human, Hart shows an environment largely unaffected by the modern world, where nature has itself created perfect shelter and protection from the elements.
Moving away from the enclosed atmosphere of the forest to the wide-open expanse of the countryside, the subsequent series’, Farmed (2009-2015) and Drained (2016-2017) present sparse, linear landscapes, which have, over time, been cultivated by people.
Farmed explores the Fens region of reclaimed marshland in eastern England, most of which has been cleared by modern agricultural practices leaving the few remaining natural features, unsheltered and vulnerable. Drained concentrates on a unique area of land known as The Wash in East Anglia that lies barely above sea level. Hart’s respectful photographs beautifully convey this region’s specific character and resistance to change.
Typifying Hart’s aesthetics is a documentary sensibility that allows the landscapes almost to define themselves. He works exclusively with black and white analogue film and traditional darkroom printing techniques, which emphasise a sense of heritage, of tradition, of a lack of overly subjective interpretation, befitting the integrity of his subject matter. His is not a nostalgic or romantic viewpoint. The images rather provoke a serious consideration of the past and how we might work collectively to find new ways to protect our land for future generations - to safeguard the poetry of place.
Signed silver gelatin prints available from £750 + vat.
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