Inside the Outside – Out of the woods of thought
26th July - 7th September 2019
Inside the Outside is a collective of contemporary photographers founded in a Chelsea pub in 2016 by Al Brydon, Rob Hudson, Stephen Segasby and Joseph Wright.
Their philosophy hinges on a number of interconnected questions about how they relate to the landscape and the way in which this informs their representation in photographic form.
Being in the landscape and representing the landscape is to simultaneously inhabit two worlds, the one before us and the one inside us. And when those two worlds collide and overlap the result can often surprise.
They took inspiration for their name, Inside the Outside from John Muir’s words ‘I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.’.
They are a diverse group of photographers who share an awareness of that transformative potential and for whom it has become an essential element of their work. It is a question they commonly explore in highly individual and personal representations of the land around them.
Their images are not merely representations of the landscape. Each of the exhibitors has a story to tell, a personal engagement with a place which is beyond the literal document. Perhaps, as Minor White suggests, all these photographs are ‘self portraits’.
In contrast to the traditional norms of landscape photography, we aren’t simply invited to imagine ourselves in the place we’re witnessing, but asked to step into the shoes of the photographers, or the protagonists whose stories are recounted. To imagine the stories these places tell us, to engage on a level beyond the insufficiencies of merely looking.
These are not necessarily places of classical beauty, but places that tell us something about what it is to be human. They tell our story by telling us the stories of the people or events that formed and shaped the places we inhabit today.
These are sometimes contested places. The landscape is riven with conflict, sometimes literally war in the case of Rob Hudson’s Mametz Wood. More so there are conflicting issues of ownership versus access, commercial exploitation versus ecological diversity, and perhaps most pertinently in the current political climate, landscapes are contested in the political sphere by issues of borders vs. the freedom to travel or migrate.
The ability to imagine (or re-imagine) these stories is central to the work of Inside the Outside Joseph Wright’s The Floods which takes an easily ignored ‘scruffy edgeland’, the antithesis of the idealist pastoral English landscape, only to reveal the magic within.
Stephen Segasby’s Malevolence finds the menace in the dark woods of the Forest of Dean.
And Al Brydon’s Solargraphs reveal the element of the landscape that we all take for granted - time itself. The exposures in this work are so long they become a reflection upon our lives and our short tenure on this world.
"Finding new ways to engage and to express that engagement with the landscape is key. For if we’re to get out of the woods of the multiple threats of climate change, collapsing biodiversity and the loss of knowledge about, and appreciation of the land we need to remind as wide a possible sphere of people of why the land is precious to them. The simple depiction of the landscape as a beautiful untarnished place empty of people, their stories and their histories does not tell a whole truth. We illustrate the land by telling the stories that illuminate us."