Landscape

Dan Wood shoots life in Welsh former mining communities

Reading Time: 3 minutes In his latest book, Gap in the Hedge, Dan Wood looks at how a place affects the way you see the world around you, how it can open your mind to new vistas, create spaces for your imagination to run wild, and make an identity that is rooted in the landscape in ways that can be expanding or limiting.

The title refers to Bwlch-y-Clawdd, the mountain pass that joins Bridgend to the former mining communities of the Rhondda Valley. Built in 1928, the road was Wales’ biggest construction project at the time, intended to lift the Rhondda out of its over-reliance on coal mining. And it was some reliance. At its coal-mining peak, South Wales produced one third of global coal exports, with large numbers of migrants moving in to mine the coal, making it a surprisingly diverse community for a place that is still regarded as quintessentially Welsh.

7 December 2018

Bastard Countryside by Robin Friend

Reading Time: 4 minutes “I see the bastard countryside everywhere I go,” says Robin Friend, pointing out of the window of his studio in East London, where an ivy plant has climbed up a nearby wall and is wrapping its vines around a rusting CCTV camera. “I ran with this idea of city and countryside splattering into each other, creating this hybrid nature,” explains Friend, who has been producing photographs for his book, unknowingly at first, for 15 years since he started started his BA in Brighton, where he studied under Jem Southam.

“Bastard countryside” is a phrase coined by Victor Hugo in his novel Les Miserables, in which he describes the city of Paris as an “amphibian”, stretching out into the countryside and devouring everything in its path. It is a zone in which the urban and rural mix, the manmade and the natural, clashing and colliding to create a strange form of beauty and ugliness.

29 November 2018

Obituary: Jacqueline Hassink, photographer 1966-2018

Reading Time: 5 minutes “I was trained as a sculptor, and this was the first time I had used the camera,” wrote Jacqueline Hassink in the Financial Times in 2011, of her breakthrough project The Table of Power. Between 1993 and 1995 Hassink contacted forty of the largest multinational corporations in Europe, asking to photograph their boardrooms. “I wanted to find a table that symbolised modern society’s most important value: economic power,” she writes. Nineteen refused, while the remaining 21, in Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland and Italy, eventually agreed. 

The book was published in 1996; it was the first time that photographs of these places had been made public, and in the spring of 2009, after the global recession, Hassink decided to revisit the boardrooms. With The Table of Power 2, she examined how boardroom design, revenue and employee numbers had changed over the intervening years.

Hassink, who has died aged just 52, was born in Enschede, the Netherlands, on 15 July 1966. She trained to be a sculptor at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, and then at the Trondheim Academy of Fine Art in Norway, but after graduating in 1992, presented herself mainly as a photographer, publishing nine books – including another celebrated title, Car Girls, in 2009. It was shot over five years at car shows across seven cities in three different continents, including New York, Paris, Geneva, Tokyo, Detroit, and Shanghai, focusing in on differing cultural standards on ideals of beauty on the women paid to pose with the cars.

28 November 2018

Edward Burtynsky: The Anthropocene Project

Reading Time: 4 minutes “Most people would walk by a dump pile and assume that there’s no picture there,” says global industrial landscape photographer Edward Burtynsky. “But there’s always a picture, you just have to go in there and find it.” Born in Canada in 1955, Burtynsky has been investigating human-altered landscapes in his artistic practice for over 35 years, capturing the sweeping views of nature altered by industry; from stone, to minerals, oil, transportation, and silicon. “Of course, it’s important to me to make sure that my pictures are attractive to the eye,” he says. “But beneath the surface there’s always a bigger, deeper environmental issue.”

19 October 2018

Q&A: Climate change in Iran by fast-emerging photographer Hashem Shakeri

Reading Time: 13 minutes Born in Tehran, Iran, in 1988, Hashem Shakeri studied architecture in TAFE (New South Wales Technical and Further Education Commission of Australia), and started his professional photography career in 2010. In 2015 he was Commended in the Ian Parry Scholarship, and in 2017 his images were included in the Rencontres d’Arles exhibition Iran, Year 38, alongside work by photographers such as Abbas Kiarostami and Newsha Tavakolian.

Shakeri’s ongoing series on climate change in Sistan and Balouchestan looks at the effect of drought in the Iranian province, which is located in the southeast of the country, bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan. It has been suffering from drought for the last 18 years, which has created severe famine in a region once famed for its agriculture and forests. “Nowadays, the Sistan region has faced astonishing climate change, which has turned this wide area into an infertile desert empty of people,” writes Shakeri.

17 September 2018

An index of inequality in St Louis, USA

Reading Time: 4 minutes “In St. Louis, ZIP codes matter,” says Piergiorgio Castotti, an Italian photographer who lived in the US for three years. “North of Delmar boulevard, 95% of people are black, and life expectancy is 67. A few hundred yards south, 70% of people are white, and there is a life expectancy of 82.”

Index G, a collaborative project he’s made with photographer Emanuele Brutti, explores the harsh reality of this segregation, which is measured with the so-called Gini Index. Where once racial segregation in the US was obvious, and even enshrined in law, it’s now peppered throughout cities on a micro level, from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, and can therefore be easy to miss. “There were unexpectedly very few literal barriers in St. Louis; this meant that our first trip was a disaster,” says Castotti. “I didn’t know what to take pictures of.”

23 July 2018

Going beyond the borders with Another Europe

Reading Time: 3 minutes “In many ways Another Europe questions whether Europe is other at all,” says Hamish Park. “While this is not an explicitly political exhibition, I do hope that it will go some way to reminding the audience that we share deep cultural roots which go beyond geographic borders or treaty arrangements, and that what we share is as significant as what makes us distinct.”

Park has just curated an exhibition called Another Europe which goes on show soon around Kings Cross, London, mounted on specially-designed concrete benches. Featuring one photograph from each of the 28 European Union member states, shot by a photographer from the country, it’s been organised by the Australian Cultural Forum London to celebrate both the European Year of Cultural Heritage, and Austria’s presidency of the EU council. It’s also interesting timing for this exhibition in the UK, as the country negotiates Brexit.

6 July 2018