Seascapes explores rising sea levels and a ‘loss of control’ with regards to nature. Can you just talk a bit more about your message here?
I'd been wanting to do a series about climate change in some way for quite a long time, but I kept thinking about different ideas and sketching out possibilities and nothing really developed in a way that I liked. And then this winter, there was really extensive flooding across a lot of the south and the south west of England. Water just lying in sheets on the ground for weeks on end. I've never seen the river so flooded here in town, I live in Dorset, and the flood plain was covered in water for months. You get the odd day when it's like that in the winter, usually, but it went on and on and on.
I started working on this series of images where I took photographs of the surfaces of different bodies of water, the sparking and glimmering that bounces off the surface of water and then laying that through Woodland scenes. So I was taking light from the sea and putting it into a place where it should never be. And it was a reflection of my thoughts about that ingress. It also changed during the process of making the series into thinking a lot about my relationship with the woods and my sister.
I was juxtaposing those two elements. I also want it to be a hopeful series of work because it's really about considering the damage and destruction that comes if we don't make big changes, and an enduring hope that we will. I think during lockdown, more than any other time, we’ve had nature taken away from us because we couldn’t go out. We've really all had to consider how that feels. So when it's been limited like that, I think it really gives us a heightened sense of what we stand to lose and how much work we must do to preserve it.
Absolutely. In the coming months, are there changes that you imagine making, as an artist, in the way you think about promoting exhibiting your work?
Galleries probably will reopen at some point and there'll be a different system for people to move around. Coming back to books though, this is another way of showing your work to people. The reason I initially, years ago now, published my first Bob books was because I wanted to have a way of making my work more accessible to a wider range of people, because it seemed unfair that only people who are willing to pay a fairly hefty sum for a large exhibition print would have access to my work.
It was never a money-making exercise. It was always about making my work more accessible in a variety of different formats. So I have a large format book and I have a more affordable A4 edition too.
I think it introduces the work at some different price points and makes it more accessible. And it means I can send it to people. I use it sometimes as a portfolio and it's possible that books are going to have a real resurgence now because it's something that people can bring into their own homes, relatively inexpensively. I would like to look at making another book in a similar format, probably following roughly the same lay out that I developed for my Into the Woods publication. That must be 10 years old now. I've made quite a few more bodies of work since then so it would be really nice to do something similar with them and put them out there in a book format.