This is an archetypal Fenland landscape, just near Gold Hill, close to the Old Bedford River. There are no physical hills in the Fenlands even though fanciful hills are declared in abundance. It is either stoic irony or wishful thinking, or both. The flat road stretches towards the horizon like a low budget American road movie, neither the weather nor a distant mountain range conspire to underpin this popular genre. With squatters’ rights, the dark, opaque sky occupies the usual space above the horizon whilst in other latitudes, the world coexists in technicolor.
The Fenland landscape belongs to Winter. In football terms, Summer relegates the Fenlands to the third division or possibly a non-league team. How do you compete with the beauty of the English Lakes, the peak district and Dartmoor? There is nothing of the traditional picturesque here but there is something elemental and prosaic. This is a functional world of telegraph poles, dykes, rivers, drainage ditches, tree lines, and flat open fields. Winter strips away all delusions and leaves us with brutal yet magnificent honesty and directness.
Language is a wonderful invention, the moment we are presented with a new word, meanings shift and change, conjuring a world of ideas and thoughts. This painting is a patchwork of shapes inspired by the work of the Swiss artist Paul Klee. It uses geometric shapes, intense tonal contrast and iridescent highlights. There is a suggestion of land enclosures, rivers, lakes and isolated dwellings. There is also a strong sense of rhythm and chord like sequences of colour. It is designed to be warm, uplifting and meditative. I loved the process of creating it.
Photography differs from painting. Paintings liberate the artist from the tyranny of the subject and the objectivity of the lens. You can manipulate a photograph to create impossible realities and surreal events, but the light from objects passing through an optic is the starting point. Chance is a key element in a successful photograph, the chance alignment of distinct elements such as lighting, weather, people and place. What are the chances of standing in front of Ely Cathedral in a dense fog as a silhouetted monastic figure walks towards the Gothic doorway? Clearly, much higher than you would imagine if you photograph the Cathedral as many times as I do.
Lumix G9 Olympus 12-40 mm lens
Leaving Mile End Road, just after the village of Prickwillow and following the River Lark for a mile or so, you find a part of the Fenland that is very much off the beaten track. In the fog, the landscape takes on a different mantle and there is a genuine sense of remoteness and isolation. There must be more telegraph poles here than any other area of the UK, and in the soft peat soils of the Cambridgeshire Fenlands they take on a range of jaunty angles. As a mere beginner, just deviating from the perpendicular, it will be a long and epic journey for this pole to reach the customary 30 or 40 degrees.
Lumix G9 Olympus 12-40 mm f2.8