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© 2017 John Kiely        john@purlieu.photography             Phone +447736849388

Echoes of Ritual

A selection of these images were produced for a collaborative project with New Zealand based photographer Kristin Hatland, and were exhibited in the Monterey Gallery in Howick, New Zealand,  as part of the 2017 Auckland Festival of Photography

Man and the land have always shared a sometimes uneasy partnership.  The land has provided for us for both sustenance and industry, provided fuel and sanctuary.  We have covered the surface with structures, manufactured overlays and artificially controlled plant life, we believe that we have mastered our environment.  But our partnership with our environment has always meant that after the ritualistic activities of its inhabitants, the natural world will adapt and recover.


Throughout the history of art, creatives have tried to capture this interdependence.  This came to prominence in the 19th century as artists developed the romantic view; the crumbling ruin, the lonely shepherd with his flock, the cattle grazing the pasture.  A formula was developed to show this idealised vista, to celebrate the relationship between man and his environment.  Early photographers naturally continued the painter’s tradition, the shared composition and content that sought the acceptance of the wider critical community.


Photography soon gained its own confident stylisations, movements that progressed and developed the medium in its own direction.  As materials and equipment became more defined the quality of images increased until it reached the sharpness and clarity of modern digital equipment.


In this series of images, I am exploring the relationships between man and his environment.  Each location was chosen because it was once the scene of industry or management.  The ritual of man’s activity was etched onto the landscape, now abandoned and derelict.  Often the remnants of this activity are subtle, sometimes still obvious, but all record the passage of time.  The images presented range in content from the remains of pre-Christian hut circles, through to beech plantations for materials for ship building. From overgrown gardens to derelict structures.


Each image represents the temporal progress of the location, from past activities to current.  To portray this, three exposures have been utilised, often using defocussing and blurring techniques.  While some have been constructed in Photoshop, the majority are produced in camera.  Film and digital media have been employed, each being utilised for its strengths in the given locale.