I am not a conceptually driven photographer. What does tend to happen is that I am drawn to a subject and the reason behind that primary impulse reveals itself slowly. When I was young (14ish), I was running through the woods where I grew up and tripped over an old iron fencepost hidden in the undergrowth breaking my toe – I have revisited recently and tried to find the spot but the fence post has gone. That led to years of pain and discomfort from my mid-twenties on and I had to stop climbing in the hills, distance walking and playing football. A friend Carol asked me what I was doing instead and anticipated my answer in saying ‘when men can’t get into the hills, they take to the woods’: it is a phrase and a moment that has stayed with me. The photograph of the ‘nesting boulder’ is my representation of that moment aged 14, but it is also the case that Carol has recently passed away and I tend to think of her a lot when I am walking in the woods – people die, but relationships live on.
To state the obvious, the photographs represent how I see the woods – many things catch my eye, shape-shifting moments are common and the spaces between the trees are equally as important as the trees themselves. I take inspiration from many sources but I constantly return to Simon Schama’s ‘Landscape and Memory’, gifted to me by Carol: he writes, ‘Landscapes are culture before they are nature, constructs of the imagination projected onto wood and water and rock’. And so it goes, the woods are places to get lost in thought, to contemplate mortality, immortality and time passing: they are a liminal space.