The Fens, a region of reclaimed marshland in eastern England, is one of the richest arable areas in the UK. It is a landscape of agribusiness that Paul Hart has been photographing for over eight years. In his new book, DRAINED, he continues the exploration of this wide-open environment which he began with FARMED, the first in a planned series of three books about the region. This is a linear landscape of straight lines and flat horizons, with monoculture at it’s core. Hart’s narrative pinpoints the objects that remain when all that surrounds has been cleared by modern agricultural practice. He conveys nature’s vulnerability within this unsheltered, unprotected environment.
Hart’s working method is in the vein of documentary, exploring our relationship to the landscape by highlighting elements that are so often overlooked. He employs the analogue process and traditional darkroom techniques, to convey something of the soulful in a landscape. As Francis Hodgson says in his insightful introductory essay: “Paul Hart is a photographer interested in the slow harvesting of hidden truth from the ordinary places that most of us pass by … (his) placid, formally peaceful landscape is pregnant with stories that lurk in the mud or the mist.
Hart explores our relationship with the landscape in both a humanistic and socio-historical sense. His work has been exhibited widely at venues such as the Royal Academy of Art, The Photographers’ Gallery and the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, as well as at prestigious art fairs such as Paris Photo, AIPAD New York, and Photo London. He has received several major awards including the International Photography Awards (USA) and PX3 Prix de la Photographie (France) His work is often featured in international publications and his two books, Truncated and Farmed (both published by Dewi Lewis), have received cosniderable critical acclaim. Hart regularly collaborates with Ilford Photo, and is widely known as a leading traditional printmaker, making finely crafted silver gelatin prints.
Francis Hodgson is Professor in the Culture of Photography at the University of Brighton. Highly respected as a writer and commentator on photography, he was previoulsy photography critic at the Financial Times, and Head of Photographs at Sotheby’s, London. Francis was a co-founder of the leading photography prize the Prix Pictet.
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