Several photographers came immediately to mind. These are my main influences and I will add others as I explore the Pool.
Jem Southam, often photographs the same locations over long periods, using a large format camera to record transitions through time. His work is already on my list for Assignment 6 and, also provides an excellent reference point for my current Assignment. During 2002/3 he created some wonderful imagers of a pool constructed by the painter Michael Garton in the ancient woodlands of Stoke Woods in the south-west of England. Garton had constructed this pond where a tree had fallen across a stream and tended it secretly. Jem Southam came across both one day and began to take pictures of the pool. They capture both the transitions in the woodland and the way in which the traces of Michael Garton’s presence gradually disappear as illness prevents him from working. I am enchanted by the images – see here . Michael’s Garton’s paintings can be seen here . Jem Southam also recently returned to Painters Pool
John Gossage found the pond of “The Pond” in 1982 whilst commuting to work. I originally wrote about it here This is a pond within an unromantic urban environment, on the edge of a city, and you follow his walk around it as you read his book . The pond itself is of little importance. “It could not be further from the pond of literary precedent, Henry David Thoreau’s serene and pensive Walden, but in binding these bodies of water together in name, Gossage made a claim for their equal importance” (Preface 2010). To remind myself – 52 black and white photographs taken during a walk around a derelict pond behind a shopping centre. Gossage shows us both the natural landscape and the rubbish left behind by people with no attempt to ‘tidy’ what he sees for the camera. Robert Adams wrote about the book here and his view is that Gossage’s focus was on the reassurances of “nature’s simplicities”. Given that the photographs are black and white, and this is an urban pond, why does it interest me? Well, apart from the fact that it’s considered to be a classic, it’s also an exemplar of how to structure a photo book and how he directs our view.
We open the book to a three page fold-out of the same scene on different occasions, I think, although it’s not easy to tell through the tangle of spindly tree trunks and scrub. There is then a preface by Toby Jurovics, Curator of Photography at the Simthsonian American Art Museum (to whom Gossage donated a set of prints). Jurovics explains, “The Pond was intentionally written, with a carefully constructed beginning, middle, and end meant to be viewed in an order that could not be broken”. The preface is followed by a series of one photograph per page to begin with as we follow Gossage on his walk, until you get to a two page spread – presumably a choice is to be made of direction and thus the walk continues.
The book was first published in 1985 and it wasn’t until 2010 that the complete sequence of his images appeared on a museum wall.
Keith Carter’s work has always appealed to me as he has ranged between his familiar home environment and the inner world of dreams and imagination – between colour and monochrome – to reflect hidden meanings which reside in the real world. He has recently produced a new body of work To Build An Ark which explores the dangers of climate change and loss of habitat. “In my leaky Noahs Ark unpredictable, disturbing and occasionally rapturous new inhabitants coexist. I have used color palettes and patinas inspired by the golden age of Dutch and Italian painters to instinctively document an evolving landscape exquisite even in its chaos ! His subjects emerge or gaze from a misty-hued landscape and one is of Walden Pond (2015) . A contrast to John Goss’s “Pond” with its unflinching gaze on the ‘edge’ of the urban and a return (or is it a retreat) to Romanticism. You Tube has an interesting interview with him on “The Art of Photography” Channel and it can be found under “Keith Carter: The Artist Series” (pub. 26 July 2017).
I wrote about Ester Teichmann’s work here as her work was one of my influences for the experiments I did with layering, using the backdrops of river, fountain and water cascade . Esther Teichmann works with both photography and film and her practice looks at the relationship between loss, desire and the imaginary. In the video below she refers to ‘in-betweenness’ which also makes me think of the way in which she uses photography as a portal into another world. The words ‘liminal’ and ‘threshold’ also come to mind. Teichmann also refers to how she often begins with writing and short stories and also working in collaboration with other artists in different subject areas.
I have the catalogue for Lulled into Believing, an Exhibition she held with Henrietta Simson in 2009 – a dialogue between them and between painting and photography. “It is emotionally ambivalent; you’re not quite sure whether this ‘believing’ is a space of deception, a secure space or indeed under threat. It remains unclear exactly who has been ‘lulled’ into believing”. Subjects are photographed against painted back-drops or appear in misty blueness. The limited edition book accompanying her Exhibition Fractal Scars, Salt Water and Tears (2014) has an original cyanotype cover with a short story in its centre – combining two of my interests.
Noemie Goudal questions the potential of photography and film, reconstructing their layers as in Les Meconiques (2016), and through landscape installations as in Haven Her Body Was (2012) where she ‘constructed’ a fabric Cascade and a ‘promenade’ backdrop. Goudal wrote about narrative and story telling here . Two sentences particularly struck me:-
Indeed, the mise en scene photograph, or what has been recently named the Photographic Tableau, is a constructed image which often blends reality with fictional elements and transports the viewer into a parallel realm which plays with the viewer’s imagination.
Additionally, through the process of the story, the viewer composes his own mental images, recreating a separate sphere constructed in between a shared reality and an imaginary world
Susan DergesI’m interested in alternative/cameraless photography as I’ve written previously and Susan Derges works with water, using sheets of photographic paper in rivers, and using a flashlight and moonlight to create the exposure. For me, the images she creates are liquid, flowing, and full of mystery, very much concerned with the threshold between nature and contemplation. I don’t think I could hope to emulate the images she produces, in the sense that her process isn’t made clear, but it might be possible to evoke the atmosphere she creates.
The video below relates to Shadow Catchers an Exhibition displayed at the V&A between October 2010 and February 2011 and she points towards all the different ways in which water can be used as metaphor.
The book Elemental (2010), which I have, gathers together all of her series to that time, together with key texts and the chronological sequence is grouped according to the four elements and the transitions between them .
Derges, S (2010) Elemental. Germany: Steidl
Gossage, J. (1985, 2010) The Pond. (2nded) NY: Aperture Foundation
Simpson, H and Teichmann, E (2009) Lulled into Believing. London: Man & Eve