James Hyman is pleased to present an exhibition of two of England's leading photographers: John Blakemore and Paul Hill. The exhibition takes its title, Sundry Wanderings, from a phrase from William Wordsworth's response to the landscape of Derbyshire and explores the central importance of this landscape to the varied practise of both Blakemore and Hill.
In summer, making quest for works of art,
Or scenes renowned for beauty, I explored
That streamlet whose blue current works its way
Between romantic Dovedale's spiry rocks;
Pried into Yorkshire dales, or hidden tracts
Of my own native region, and was blest
Between these sundry wanderings with a joy
Above all joys, that seemed another morn
Risen on mid noon; blest with the presence, Friend!
(William Wordsworth, The Prelude, 1850, Book VI, ll. 190-198)
Blakemore and Hill have both been based in Derbyshire for decades and have exhibited together many times since 1973. This latest exhibition provides an opportunity to reflect on their contrasting responses to the landscape. In Blakemore's work the emphasis is on nature untainted by man, an elemental sublime, whilst Hill has always foregrounded the interventions of man. In Ambergate, in Derbyshire, Blakemore often uses multiple exposures to suggest the passage of time and convey the movement of grasses and leaves in the wind. Ironically, Hill's series of Mobile Objects, also set in Derbyshire, does the reverse: despite its title, Hill freezes the movement of various vehicles and farm machinery.
About the Artists
Blakemore is celebrated for the detail, texture and tonal richness of his work. Blakemore began teaching in the late 1970s, and became a major figure in what was then seen as a 'British obsession with photography'. He is currently Emeritus Professor of Photography at the University of Derby, where he taught from 1970 to 2001. John Blakemore's books include Inscape (1991), Stilled Gaze (1994) and John Blakemore's Black and White Photography Workshop (2005). His work has been exhibited world-wide and he is widely regarded as one of the finest photographers and printers in the United Kingdom. Blakemore has been the recipient of Arts Council awards, a British Council Traveling Exhibition and in 1992 he won the coveted Fox Talbot Award for Photography. Blakemore was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in 1998. A major monograph, John Blakemore: Photographs 1955-2010, was published in 2011.
Paul Hill was born in Shropshire and initially established his reputation in the 1960s as an award winning photojournalist, before moving towards a more consciously fine art practice that developed alongside his eventual role as Head of the Creative Photography course at Trent Polytechnic, Nottingham and Derby College of Higher Education (1972- 78). In 1976 with his wife Angela he established The Photographer's Place, a workshop and study centre, in Derbyshire that was seminal in changing approaches to photography amongst British Photographers. From 1974-78 he created arguably his important body of work, Prenotations, photographs that, in Hill's words were 'visual metaphors' ordinary situations transformed into something 'extra-ordinary'. Since then he has particularly focused on landscape, including an acclaimed book set in the landscape around his home in Derbyshire, entitled White Peak Dark Peak: Photographs by Paul Hill (1990).
Blakemore and Hill have shown in several of the same exhibitions since 1973. These include Midlands Seen, Midland Group Gallery, Nottingham (1973); Young British Photographers, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford (toured Europe and the United States) (1975); 3 Photographers, Galleria II Diaframma, Milan (with Thomas Joshua Cooper) (1975); Contrasts Gallery, London (1981); Landscape, International Festival of Photography, Derby (1991); and Displacements, International Festival of Photography, Derby Museum & Art Gallery (1995).