Andy Sewell has been described as a bright new talent likely to make his mark on the future of photography by Martin Parr.
His recent work The Heath is series of subtle and complex photographs taken over five years on Hampstead Heath in London. It is in the collections of the V&A and the National Media Museum.
"Hampstead Heath was once part of the countryside surrounding the city and is now a green fragment deep within the urban landscape. It is a place of ancient trees, tall grass and thickets dense enough to get lost in - if only briefly. I go to the Heath to be somewhere that feels natural, yet I know this is no pathless wood. The Heath is as managed as any other part of London but managed to feel wild; I am interested in this paradox.
In a way this work is about the perception of what is natural, but it's also an attempt to explore what EO Wilson called the human condition of Biophilia, being drawn to somewhere that feels natural without knowing why. Over the last five years I have spent many hours walking on the Heath. With this set of pictures I hope to convey something of what I was looking for and what I found."
The work navigates a physical space, which is compelling and contradictory and an interesting space within the landscape tradition. His pictures deal with the effect that place has on us as well as the effect that we have on it. Concerns common to the Romantic artists and poets of the nineteenth century who used Hampstead Heath as subject and inspiration. Without being overtly referential his work feels engaged with this Romantic tradition while being firmly placed in the present. A contemporary sensibility filtering ancient concerns. He creates a view neither sentimental nor idealised but one that discovers the quite and at times disquieting poetry found by looking closely at what surrounds us.
This series has been featured by the Financial Times, The Observer, The Guardian and the Camden Journal.
For the last five years Andy Sewell has been tramping Hampstead Heath with his camera and has accumulated a stunning set of photographs. He now intends to publish these in a beautifully designed and printed book. I urge you to support this emerging talent and pre-order this book before it is acknowledged as a classic contribution to our photographic culture.
Martin Parr, May 2010
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