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Tom Hunter’s best-known shot shows a young woman in a squat reading a possession order; taken in Hunter’s home in the 1990s, its colour and composition evoke Vermeer’s A Girl Reading At An Open Window. Now Hunter’s latest series, Figures in a Landscape, melds a similar mix of the personal and the cultural. Inspired by Thomas Couture’s Romans during the Decadence (1847), which shows mortals and immortals inhabiting the same domain, Figures in a Landscape takes the viewer on a journey “through a world imbued with myths and legends”, dotted with scenes from Hunter’s own life.

The series starts in the village where Hunter grew up in Dorset, where tales abound of couples gathering for May Day to have sex beneath the naked male giant of Cerne Abbas, to ensure fertility for both the people and the land. From there Figures in a Landscape tracks through the countryside towards London, past more megalithic chalk images and standing stones, and towards the dinosaurs in Crystal Palace park. From there it journeys to Hackney, Hunter’s base for the last 20 years and once home to Lugus, the Celtic god of the River Lea.

The last shot was taken at Winterville where, says Hunter “the mid-winter solstice pagan festival becomes distorted in an Olympian mountain top landscape”. “Here ancient and contemporary narratives clash and shatter into a dystopian consumerist nightmare,” he adds.

www.tomhunter.org Figures in a Landscape is on show until 30 June at Purdy Hicks, 25 Thurloe Street, London SW7 2LQ www.purdyhicks.com

Aphrodite, from the series Figures in a Landscape © Tom Hunter
Cerne Giant, from the series Figures in a Landscape © Tom Hunter
Dinosaur Island, from the series Figures in a Landscape © Tom Hunter
Hackney Marshes, from the series Figures in a Landscape © Tom Hunter
Journey to the Centre of the Earth, 2018, from the series Figures in a Landscape © Tom Hunter
Middlesex Filter Beds, from the series Figures in a Landscape © Tom Hunter
Pelagie, from the series Figures in a Landscape © Tom Hunter
Poseidon, from the series Figures in a Landscape © Tom Hunter
Weylands Smithy, from the series Figures in a Landscape © Tom Hunter
Winterville, from the series Figures in a Landscape © Tom Hunter
Diane Smyth

Diane Smyth is a freelance journalist who contributes to publications such as The Guardian, The Observer, The FT Weekend Magazine, Creative Review, The Calvert Journal, Aperture, FOAM, IMA, Aesthetica and Apollo Magazine. Prior to going freelance, she wrote and edited at BJP for 15 years. She has also curated exhibitions for institutions such as The Photographers Gallery and Lianzhou Foto Festival. You can follow her on instagram @dismy

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