This has to be one of my favourite shots of the year so far. In the post-production of it, I wanted to capture a sense of nostalgia or “looking back” at the astonishing beauty of the natural world. I mean this not in the sense of something already lost but as something very-much in the balance as we continue to develop and build upon our green spaces, increasing the urban sprawl to our own so-called advantage but at what terrible cost. I wanted its earthy hues to tug us back into a sense of connection with the earth; to wake up something that feels like it is in a state of comatose disengagement yet which we all have some remembrace of at our very root.
The composition has gained even more poignancy for me since I took it just a handful of months ago. At the time, I was in the habit of walking these fields most days just before sunset and would invariably be met there by half a dozen or more deer on the hill. Week after week, they grew in confidence, allowing my dog and I to circumnavigate the field without dispersing them; in fact, they would just carry on pulling at the grass or standing around in relaxed groups allowing me to watch their gentle interactions. It was a sacred and extraordinarily magical time for me, looking back; almost like something you feel like you imagined in hindsight. The way we tend to look back at the world of, say, fifty or a hundred years ago and feel like it was a halcion time compared to these days of concrete and noise.
Since then, yet another large housing development has gone into production just beyond the field in the picture and the deer haven’t been seen since. Whether it is the all the noise and disturbance that holds them at bay (even after work has finished for the day), the aggressive proximity of man and machine creating an energy that has taken much of the sacred joy out of stepping out of time there with the sun warming your head, or the loss of the continuity of green belt that they rely upon to get from one place to another (probably all three), my hill now feels sadly bereft of their presence. Will they ever come back? Another housing development is now being proposed in the next field to that one…and so it continues; if we let it.
I like to send such images out into the world, not as a token of a world gone by but as a proactive reminder that we still have it…at least for now; and that it deserves to be taken far better care of. Let more of us look back at these “views”, not out of nostalgia but in search of guidelines that we can take forward into the future to make sure that we leave more than enough room for the natural world to thrive, threading softly around its spaces. After all, we all stand to lose if we forget this fundamental need for balance combined with respect for the planet that makes it possible for us to be here at all.
Both images shown here are available as giclée prints and for licensing purposes (or for license free use, with credit, by organisations working towards a brighter future for our natural spaces and the creatures that live in them) – please message me for specifics of cost, size and permission.