The Forest - University BA Degree Show Statement
The University of Northampton
St George’s Avenue
Walgrave Building - Room W10
11-19 June 2016
10am - 6pm Weekdays
10am - 4pm Weekends
‘Forests are strange and wonderful places, which hold a sense of enchantment and magic, yet at the same time they are fraught with fear.’1
We all hold a fear of the forest, yet it is nebulous and something which cannot be fully described or expressed. Looking at the immensity and imagination of the forest, through photography and sound in the twilight hours, my project explores the forest as a space of the mysterious, allowing the viewer’s imagination to take control.
‘The hour of twilight evokes haunting moods and provides scope for narrative intrigue and psychological depth … twilights visceral appeal can be linked to notions of transience and mysterious psychological states’.2
Exploring the twilight period allows me to exploit the mystical and mysterious elements that haunt these places on the verge of darkness, adding to the psychological depth and intrigue of each image. The most dramatic atmospheric conditions and changing hues of light happen during the twilight period, allowing me to capture these ethereal images of the forest.
Through in-depth psychological research and participant surveys, I have come to realise that it is not a fear of the forest we hold, but an imagined ‘fear’ likely generated by the childhood stories we are told, fairytales, myths and legends. It is this imagination that takes hold of us when exploring the forest. This, combined with the lighting and atmospheric conditions, turns the forest into this mysterious space, allowing our curiosity and fascination of wanting to explore to take over.
By allowing viewers to walk through my installation, they can explore the space as though they are themselves walking through the forest. I have included the footpaths in each of my images, inviting the viewer to explore for themselves, whilst also giving them a sense of security. A common fear of the forest is the fear of becoming lost, and in stories it is normally once the character leaves the path that the horrors they face appear.
The darkness of the exhibition space, combined with the backlit duratran prints and ambient audio recordings of the forest create an immersive experience. Allowing the viewers to walk through the images invites them to engage with their own sense of fantasy, memory, and the imagination, as they explore within these scenes the stories we were told as children, of fairytales and other horrors. This creates a mixed sense of beauty, awe, wonder and fear, reflecting the feelings and emotions we experience when exploring a forest for ourselves.
1 Maitland, S. (2012) Gossip from the Forest. 1st ed. London: Granta Publications, p.10.
2 Barnes, M and Best, K. (2006) Twilight: Photography in the Magic Hour. 1st ed. London: Merrel Publishers Limited, p. 9 - 10