A Contemporary Sublime

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition

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This body of work developes investigations into ‘contemporising’ the subject of landscape, concentrating on urbanisation and industrialisation of the rural, without sentimentalising that juxtaposition: concrete bridges, buildings and roadways cut and enclose the vista. In this research I am defining a contemporary practice capable of addressing landscape as its subject. Another strand of this project draws upon notions of the sublime. These works fix the most transient conditions of the landscape, the ‘elements’ themselves, in representation. By photographing particularly in mist and fog, I have been producing documents of that which is intangible; the landscape itself, the supposed ‘site’ of the work, is rendered unknowable, an absent subject. Contemplation of the impenetrability of the object of representation and of the traditional illusionistic space of the picture plane allows for consideration, through a supposedly ‘representational’ medium, of the most abstract aspect of the sublime. In its most literal appearance, the work explores the ‘weakest’ sense of the sublime as explored by Burke. However, the erasure of the landscape, or the isolation of elements within it by wreaths of fog, produces a more generalised Kantian ‘dread and melancholy’. By interweaving a broad historical range of stylistic, aesthetic and theoretical approaches to landscape, the project lays out the basis for a new critical landscape photography within the context of my own work. As a strategy for further exploring the context of this research, my photographs were exhibited alongside key 18th - 20th century landscape paintings. I secured the loan of major works by Corot, Jacob Van Ruisdael and Lowry from the National Gallery and The Lowry Museum. This body of work is a further investigation of the subjects explored during a period of AHRC funded research (2008/09) and this exhibition will include works from that series, which were produced as part of the AHRC research project: Reconsidering Landscape in Contemporary Photography. The works exhibited as part of this exhibition were: 'Over, and On and Up II', (2012) 122 cm x 152 cm, 'Poised on the Threshold of my Hearing' (2010) 15 cm x 12 cm, 'Withdrawing Veils of Sound II' (2010) 15 cm x 12 cm, 'The Dream II' (2009) 80 cm x 100 cm, 'The Mound I' (2009) 80 cm x 100 cm, 'The Mound II' (2009) 80 cm x 100 cm, 'Front Screen' (2009) 15 cm x 12 cm, 'Side Screen I' (2009) 15 cm x 12 cm, 'Side Screen II' (2009) 15 cm x 12 cm, 'Dead Pool' (2008) 122 cm x 152 cm, 'Veil XV' (2008) 80 cm x 100 cm, 'Veil I' (2006) 80 cm x 100 cm, 'Veil IV' (2006) 80 cm x 100 cm, 'The Lough I' (2006) 80 cm x 100 cm, 'The Lough IV' (2006) 80 cm x 100 cm, 'The Lough V' (2006) 80 cm x 100 cm, 'Flooded Tree (after Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot)' (2006) 40 cm x 50 cm, 'Broken Tree (after Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot)' (2003) 40 cm x 50 cm, 'Fragment of Landscape in Afternoon Light I' (2003) 15 cm x 12 cm, 'Fragment of Landscape in Afternoon Light II' (2003) 15 cm x 12 cm, 'Riverbank: Closing Landscape' (2003) 15 cm x 12 cm, 'Pool Surrounded by Trees' (2002) 65 cm x 40 cm, 'Forest Entrance (after Jacob Van Ruisdael)' (2002) 40 cm x 50 cm. Colour lightjet photographic prints. Edition of three.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 16 Nov 2012
EventA Contemporary Sublime - The MAC / Belfast
Duration: 16 Nov 201220 Jan 2013

Bibliographical note

Outputmediatype: Solo exhibition of Photographs


  • 17th
  • 19th Century European Landscape painting
  • Sublime
  • Picturesque
  • photography
  • landscape.


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