Jem Southam

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While we’re on the subject of other photographers, now seems a fitting time to introduce the work of noted photographer Jem Southam, whose work has earned him many accolades, including being shortlisted for the prestigious Citibank Photography Prize and exhibiting work at TATE St. Ives.  While the likes of John Davies and Joe Cornish present vast landscapes of Britain covered in a previous post here, Southam seeks a more intimate relationship with the landscape by repeatedly visiting selected sites and photographing them many times.  He says of his work “My overall intentions are to make work that explores how our history, our memory, and our systems of knowledge combine to influence our responses to the places we inhabit, visit, create and dream of.”

Southam experiences the gentle nature of the English landscape in a very slow way, reflecting how the landscape itself has slowly changed over thousands of years, remembering that industrial change is actually a very recent phenomenon.  He rejects the epic and instead focuses on those areas where humans have made their homes and which naturally contain the ebb and flow of many lifetimes, so at first glance his work could easily be overlooked but by returning to the images often there emerges a warmth and intimacy that is not present in the likes of Davies or Cornish.  Beautiful.  Chris’s work at the Tower works on a similar basis, it is based on repeated visits to areas to develop a stronger relationship with the landscape and is therefore informed by a greater subtlety than the imagery you would find in the Tower guidebook.

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One thought on “Jem Southam

  1. Im a big fan of Jem Southam, I really love his books ‘The Raft of Carrots’ and ‘Red River’. He was a big influence on me when I was a student and I was lucky enough to go to a talk he gave at the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne in 2000.

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