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The Layered Land: Introduction

We have a strange attitude to the landscape. In so much landscape photography, the stress is on the natural, as though landscapes are an environment that exist separately from mankind. There is rarely much acknowledgement that we exist in a complex relationship with the landscape.

In Western Europe, there are few places that are untouched by humanity. Even the remotest spots are affected by our existence.

The Layered Land project is about abandoning the false notion – so beloved of camera clubs and salon-style photographers – that the best landscape photography somehow taps into a seam of 'purity'. It's about acknowledging that the landscapes that surround us (well, me, anyway) have been shaped by human occupation over millennia.

I want to celebrate the traces that mankind has left in the landscape, to view them as evidence of our reliance upon, relationship to and appreciation of the environment.

While the ideas behind The Layered Land inform much of my landscape photography, there are also some specific threads that I am developing as sub-projects. The aim is to turn each of these into a book and exhibition. These projects are:

Traces: The main landscape project exploring the marks we leave in the landscape and our place in it.

Ancient Traces: Based around megalithic monuments (standing stones, dolmens etc) and how they are enduring marks of  mankind's relationship to the landscape.

Dust & Shadow: Military fortifications – especially the German WW2 Atlantic Wall – and how these remnants of war are now assuming the appearance of mysterious monuments.

Voie Verte: Images of and from France's greenways (mostly former railway tracks) as well as abandoned railways lines and the decaying infrastructure that remains.

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The most recent blog posts about The Layered Land:

Behind the image: One place, many moods

Returning to a place that has previously impressed or moved you can be disappointing....

Incidental monuments

Photography has the power to confer significance on objects and scenes, as I discussed...

Sacred Golf

In some woodland, near where I live, there are strange designs marked on the...

The unnatural landscape

What do you find acceptable in a landscape? It’s a somewhat strange question, I...

Ritual spaces

If, like me, you’re a fan of Time Team, you’ll have witnessed archaeologists in the...

Pointe de la Torche

The Plage de Tronoan, in the Bay of Audierne, Finistère, is one of the...

Atlantic Wall

The French coastline is ringed with the relics of war. It’s staggering to contemplate...

Mysterious shapes

These mounds appeared one day in a neighbour’s field. They were just piled-up earth...

Phantom tracks

I love tracks. They have a magnetic pull. You feel you are being led...

The enchanted wood

There’s a particular piece of woodland I find myself drawn to time and again....