I am now embarking on a new body of work and I want to capture the beauty of Autumn. I am lucky to have woodlands and a nature reserve close to where I live, so one morning I set off armed with my camera. It is really important to me when I visit a potential site that I wish to paint, to rely on my instincts and emotions as I walk. Asking myself questions of, how am I feeling about this space I am occupying right now what can I hear, see and smell.
My family and I have always walked in these woods taking the children for games of hide and seek when they were young then later to just enjoy each other’s company so I know the layout well.
I have never walked through these woods alone, and so this feeling of being alone and isolated was quite an intense feeling.
I set off along our usual path, directly through the middle of the woods and instantly felt uncomfortable, the silence was intense and I could hear my own breathing. I felt totally vulnerable and was considering on turning back on myself getting in my car and driving off. I then noticed the light coming from the edge of the woods, a brighter prospect so I changed my course and headed in the direction of the boundary of the wood.
I immediately felt a lot better and I began to take photographs snapping away quite happy and content.
So my subject matter soon became the view out from the woods, using the trees as a frame to the outside world.
When I arrived back to my studio I began thinking about I had felt during my visit to the woods and remembered a book I had. I have a degree in Landscape Architecture and I used this book along with my studies, Form and fabric in landscape architecture written by Catherine Dee.
She discusses the theory by Appleton the Prospect -refuge
In his The Experience of Landscape (1975), Jay Appleton introduces the notion of an aesthetic psychology based upon a primitive survival instinct. He suggests one should consider the possibility of a "natural symbolism" that represents elements crucial to survival in the habitat of living creatures. He argues, following Roston (Appleton, 1990), that humans derive pleasure from particular scenery owing to "instinctual responses traceable to man's early experiences as hunter and hunted, with open plains offering welcome escape routes and strategically placed trees or bushes providing concealment for stalking prey."
In other words to enjoy a landscape we must at first feel safe, this was true in my visit to the woods. when you enter large public spaces, people are far happier sitting around the edges and benches are usually sited along the edge, looking into the area. The feelings I was experiencing were primeval, I wanted to make sure I had a good exist to flee and give myself a controlled view of my surroundings.
I hope to capture this feeling in a new body of work I will now call the edge.
This was a small study I created