Figurative Series III

Research output: Other contributionpeer-review


This series of work explores the use of the figure within the constructed photographic image by re-enacting the figurative subjects of art works and cinema. The photographic images re-configure these subjects by locating them in new contexts, but at the same time retaining key elements of the figures portrayed, such as their gender, positioning and actions. The figure, a common motif in landscape painting, has played a prominent role in my work, which has drawn upon the Romantic figures featured in the works of artists such as Caspar David Friedrich. In this series I seek to harness the allegorical agency of the figure in landscape painting, whilst locating it within other settings. 'The Wordless Exchange', makes specific reference to cinema, taking as its focus the film work of Raoul Ruiz. This image reconstructs a scene from his 1979 work, 'Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting', a narrative constructed through a series of tableaux vivants (theatrical performance art which translates as, 'living pictures', consisting of formally staged, re-enacted images, using live, statuesque actors). The title of this work suggests a possible connection between the figure, depicted within the interior, and an unseen subject, located in the exterior space beyond the picture frame. The exterior space, partially visible through windows from which the figure scrutinises the unseen subject, is representative of landscape. This photograph is linked to an earlier work, 'Vantage Point' (2005) in its use of the figure to highlight the presence of what may lie beyond the picture plain. In another work, the title, ‘Rocks, Forest Descending’, relates to a number of art historical references, in particular Marcel Duchamp’s 1912 painting, ‘Nude Descending a Staircase no.2’, which has also been referenced in works by Gerhard Richter and Jeff Wall. Duchamp’s painting is also echoed in the work’s central subject of a young female descending a set of mossy steps in an outdoor location. This exterior scene depicts an autumnal landscape, drawing upon the allegorical motifs found in the Landscape paintings of the Fountainebleau artists of the 18th & 19th Century, which are also referenced in the title of this work. Though these photographs could be read as unrelated, possible connections can be drawn between them. The male figure scrutinises a landscape beyond the window he looks through, where the female figure may be present, a proximity which could be evocative of the male gaze. 'Rocks, Forest, Descending' (2008) was one of a series produced as part of AHRC funded research project, 'Reconsidering Landscape in Contemporary Photography', 2008 - 2009. Details: Series of two works entitled, ‘Rocks, Forest, Descending’ (2008) 122 cm x 152 cm, 'The Wordless Exchange' (2010), colour lightjet photographic prints measuring 122 cm x 152 cm, edition of three.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2008

Bibliographical note

Work from this series was purchased for private collection.


  • Photography
  • landscape
  • the figure
  • 17th
  • 19th European Landscape painting
  • 20th Century painting
  • Romanticism
  • the Picturesque
  • nature
  • parks & gardens
  • interiors
  • allegory
  • cinema
  • narrative.


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