In this information overloaded world where our senses are stimulated all the time, except when we finally turn our eyes away from the gleaming blue light of the telephone screen, solitude and calming our minds is more important than ever. How can we achieve this? One possibility is the idea of ‘escaping to the countryside’, but what we really mean by that is going outdoors, going walking, and that’s something we can do anywhere be it in an urban or a rural setting. Walking allows us time to play with ideas, explore concepts, and be wrong in our thinking without worrying about others. Walking is not a sport or a competition, no achievements have to be measured. Walking manages to free us from our illusions about the essential. Walking lets us escape from the very idea of identity, the temptation to be someone, to have a name and a history, thus solitude is an important aspect of walking and subsequently creative thought.
This project is an experiment at letting go when I walk. Instead of pre-fabricating the conditions, concept, visual outcome of the work I simply enjoy the experience of walking, and looking, and sensing; creating images that might feel disjointed, broken-up or chaotic, but ultimately come back together as an exploration of the English-Welsh borderlands of the Wye valley. My kind of walking is attentive, more of a stroll than a race, the purpose is the walk itself and not getting from A to B as quickly as possible.
The various photographic formats and technologies employed in the making of this work force a constantly changing approach to the landscape; the production of panoramic and medium format photographs requires more time than a phone snap or a picture taken with a point & shoot camera but who is to say whether either is worth more or less as a result of this process. An unexpected variance like double exposures and accidentally inverted negatives may impact the experience of the walk long after it is over. In order to accommodate all these aspects of the work the book does not follow a classic structure and layout but pairs or isolates images just as arbitrarily as my brain disjoints the memory of the walk.
The narrative of this work sets out from suburban observations, following a trail of human intervention slowly taken over by nature. During the transitions, remnants and traces of those who came before, a fence, a fortified wall, a lost piece of clothing, are still visible until they vanish entirely as one moves further into the thicket of the forest, working towards this goal of calm, undisturbed solitude. But psychologically the forest has always been an upsetting force, a place of oppressing loneliness and deep silence, a territory of unspeakable dangers and dark secrets. It takes determination to enter a forest, to find your way through a dense thicket, on a small, steep slope. More than just getting lost in the city, a walk in the countryside moves one closer to a sense of primordial, even primeval originality.