I’ve long been fascinated by the strained position occupied by photography in the wider world of the visual arts. It’s no coincidence that the late 1800’s saw easel painters increasingly favouring more impressionist styles; the ultimate realism had been witnessed with the birth of photography and this new ‘art’ was perceived as a threat to the livelihoods of fine-art easel painters. Artists don’t have a problem with photography any more, I find it hard to think of a more welcoming group; incredibly, easel painters actually hold creative photography in higher esteem than most creative photographers. The problem of acceptance lies with the art-naive and it’s my burning ambition to challenge such ambivalence.
In some parts of the world, photography is held in the same high regard as easel painting without question. Americans, who perhaps lack the historical richness of landscape painting enjoyed by the Europeans, have been brought up with a very strong history of photographic heroism. Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston and Paul Strand all helped to cement photography into the art history books. However, the UK population have been spoilt with rich pickings from the brushes of virtuosos like Turner and Constable; rightly or wrongly, they place easel painting on a pedestal compared to photography. In the words of David Bailey non-photographer Brits “think the camera takes the picture“. Sadly, even photographers in the UK sometimes feel uncomfortable to call their photography ‘art’, they become suffocated by humility, thinking that this is for others to decide.
I’m passionate about raising the profile of landscape photography; there are thousands of ‘super-creatives’, making the most amazing imagery, both with film and digitally. Anyone who has been involved with the judging of landscape photography competitions will tell you that year on year, we have witnessed ever increasing standards; the artistry is exponential, breathtaking.
‘Art’ is optimally progressive if it is inclusive; exclusion of others or our humble selves, can only be detrimental to the wider ’cause’. So my own mantra is that the underpinning philosophy of ‘art’ should be inclusion of everyone: from the creative scribble of a happily playing 3 year-old to Joseph Mallord William Turner painting his most impassioned seascapes. Which is ‘better’, is for the investors to decide, but for the rest of us, if we relax our definitions just a little, open our minds to the visually rich tapestry of flavours and shout ‘landscape’ from the rooftops, then everyone will benefit.
My ‘Oils’ series is a summation of all these passionate opinions; an attempt to challenge the viewer’s preconceptions, whatever they may be, about where photography sits in the wider art world. I wanted to create images that have similar visual impact to old oil paintings; images that beg a more lingering look, images that are not obviously photographs or paintings, but sit between the two. I’ve used a variety of techniques in creating them, but most of them use coloured texture layers to flavour their mood, with the objective of emphasising an influence from the world of easel painting.
I hope you enjoy the images as much as I’ve enjoyed creating them.