What with the trip to Italy and yesterday a very enjoyable day out in London it has taken me until now to get back to the business at hand - the current MA project. 'In The Demon's Wood' is a detailed and in-depth study of a small piece of managed woodland straddling the Leics/Derbys border at one end of the Staunton Harold reservoir. The site is known as 'Dimminsdale Wood' and this is believed to be a possible corruption of 'Demon's Wood' - hence the title. Its a site I have visited three or four times over the years and now I'm regularly up there with the camera. Taking this site as the locus for my major project fits well with some early advice we were given last year by photographer (and previous graduate) Nick Lockett - to take a subject that was both accessible and familiar. The fact that I have already over five hundred shots of the woods from as far back as 2003 and across the spring and summer months is most helpful though the recent shoots over the early autumn and those to come through the winter ahead and as we move into springtime again will be the core of the work.
This is a rich site that exemplifies one of my key objectives with this work, that is drawing heavily on the core thesis contained within Simon Schama's book Landscape & Memory. He puts it clearly and concisely himself - "a way of looking: of discovering what we already have, but which somehow eludes our recognition and appreciation." Like Schama I am not seeking to offer solutions to the dilemma of "wanting both to repair environmental abuse and to preserve liberty" but simply pointing to the ways in which nature often defeats and reclaims territory merely by being. How the photographic recording of the site will achieve this I have yet to figure out in any detail. Initially I am trying to stay true to a straightforward recording of what one can see as one walks the trail. Later I hope and expect to use a variety of strategies, metaphors and interactions (always of a non-intrusive nature) to try to prise deeper meaning out of the work. To help me literally visualise the work as it progresses I have initiated a series of books (shooting digitally this provides a relatively inexpensive way forward, although I have some doubts about the quality of the object) and started to create a new website where images can be viewed - once this is up and running I'll post a link to it from here.
As always it is difficult containing the flood of initial thoughts and ideas around a project and shaping them into the necessary constraints of the academic process but somehow that has to be done. As before I'm hoping that this record will help me achieve this.