Some time in February 2010, before we thought of creating our Trees and Sky Exhibition, I asked Michael Eldridge if he thought a photographic image might have the ability to heal?
I was thinking of how, so I am informed, the traditional shamanic doctor-priests of Tibet would sometimes prescribe mandalas that were prepared to heal people of their afflictions.
In a troubled age of self-worship, acquisition, and horror, which often presses photography into its service, Michael and I attempted to assemble a collection of ‘honest’ images that convey the basic beauty and simplicity of life.
I hoped that some of these may have an ability to heal.
There is no doubt in my mind that whilst each image in ‘Trees and Sky’ can stand alone the collection benefits from coming from both of us.
Children came here in groups and we helped them to make photographs and see in new ways.
People who once made photographs using film love our exhibition. It reconnects them to a world prior to digital editing software. All of our images have benefited, somewhat, from digital enhancement, but nothing was attempted that could not previously have been achieved using chemical processes.
Painters remark on the framing of the images. They like our use of colour, tone and perspective. For them our photographs are not about photography but about capturing the essence of the scene, just as they attempt with brush or pallet knife.
People who only know digital photography are more critical. The images lack a surreal quality, they claim. Hungry for more pizazz they fail to examine the photographs as new information and allow them to do their work. Instead they attempt to understand them as a tableaux of digital techniques. Of course this can only lead to disappointment because they fail to relate to the images because they have deconstructed them in an attempt to fit them into what can be achieved technically.
For Michael and I life is already a fabulous dream. It doesn’t require digital enhancement. It is sufficient simply as it is and our photographs bear witness to our experiences. No hurry, no pressure, eating when hungry, sleeping when tired. That’s all!
I’ve no doubt that some people have started to heal as a result of looking at our pictures. Many have immersed themselves within them before talking of a family illness or some other trauma with which an image enabled them to connect.
Others, unfortunately, live in a deep trance in which they are identified with all the ballyhoo of a high pressure, fashionista, consumer lifestyle. It will take more than one exhibition to awaken them.
The pictures, so simple in their subject matter and technique, subtly point to archetypes we all can recognise if we give ourselves the time to disengage from the frenetic pace of today’s cyber-lifestyle and once again appreciate the obvious.