Lost in Execution: Fishing in Smoke in the Highwoods

In the Highwoods we dig up and burn the rhododendron. It is an invasive species not welcome in the woodland. The work is carried out by a team of volunteers; the bonfire must be placed under a clearing in the tree canopy and away from any roads. The smoke produced is thick and substantial.

As well as photographically recording this process I want to capture something physical, a track that marks the passing of an ephemeral state. I devise a process with steps, tools and outcomes to capture something of this act of woodland management.

 

I hang artboards into the smoke of the burning rhododendron, fishing for marks that simultaneously fulfil and challenge my preconceptions. Like chasing smoke in mist, I follow the process not knowing what I will find but knowing I am attracted by the thoughts it triggers and what I see. The smoke is thick. A combination of carbon and an amber, tar-like, substance with enough adhesion to hold the rising ash.

The series of artboards inhabited the studio with their pungent aroma requiring open windows and time to pass. I take digital photographs and interweave the images to emphasise the echoes of the smoke and the tracks of the ash. The amber tar was unexpected and wonderful both in its colour and its ability to hold the ash.

Smoke on art-board

 

Art-board with stencil

Fishing for Smoke

Fishing for Smoke with Leaves

Intervention: The Project So Far

Intervention 2002 to 2017

Intervention is about the groynes on Bexhill beach that run to Groyne 121 and I have photographed them since 2002, both fascinated and amazed by their change over time.

This work forms the primary source for a solo exhibition `WAVEWORN‘ to be held at Martyrs Gallery, Lewes, from Saturday 3 March to Friday 23 March 2018.

Intervention 2018 will see me back on the beach, finding and recording what has changed and rediscovering what remains. The work on this project continues, photographs are being taken, notebooks and charts filled in, files organised and backed up.

This video summarises the work so far.

Intervention: Groyne 76

Fascinated by change, what better way to spend time than photographing groynes of the inter-tidal zone of Bexhill beach.

These images are of one post top, situated in Groyne 76.

This piece explores intervention on our shoreline, using two temporal distortions. Compressing time, I present one post top, photographed over six years, with seven images. Slowing time, I concurrently present the same post dealing with the waves of a bi-diurnal and lateral tidal flow.

 

Much of our landscape exists in its current form as a result of our intervention. Groynes are an example of this, existing in the rigours of the splash and inter-tidal zones.

This exploration has only just begun, the more I look the more I see and the more I want to know. Exploring and recording both for its own sake and for the metaphors it gives me with which to consider our relationship with this planet – our beautiful, powerful, fragile, life support system.

Click here to see a collection of prints showing the changing face of a post top.