Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Jem Southam, 'The Pond at Upton Pyne’

Jem Southam’s series 'The Pond at Upton Pyne’ captures the evolution and transformation of a small pond near Southam's home in Cornwall. Photographed over a period of seven years, the images document a specific passage of time while also revealing the contentious relationship between humans and nature. Structured into three sections, the series takes on narrative qualities through the repetition of objects and places that continuously reemerge to inform previous works. he observes the balance between nature and man's intervention and traces cycles of decay and renewal. His work combines topographical observation with other references: personal, cultural, political, scientific and psychological.


 I found this quote from an interview with Southam, which i thought was important to describing this particular series; ‘My overall artistic intentions are to make work that explores how history, our memory, and our systems of knowledge combine to influence our response to the places we inhabit, visit, create and dream of. Regarding my strategy well that's simple. Once fixed on a site, i revisit it regularly, and gradually assemble a body of work that is a response to a slow absorption of the site.' 

His work has a very close relationship with humans and how they affect nature. He constantly mentions how he has a connections to the places he shoots, saying how once he has shot them, he has to go back regularly. I also think these images become a personal and intimate part of his life, he becomes involved in the environment like he is leaving his own trace.

He also mentions the narrative structure depends on the relationship with the site, in this series he says that the lives of particular individuals have been instrumental in shaping the pond. 

I feel these series of images have a picturesque look to them, capturing nature and its beauty. His work also emphasizes the sense of change and development that occurs in the environment over several years.