The Great Outdoors

Posted by Matt on 7 July 2021

The Great Outdoors

I want to begin by saying I hope you and yours are well and happy and looking forward to the easing of Covid-19 restrictions. As the vaccine programme is rolled out across the UK and the world, I hope many of you have had one, or even two, jabs by now: I had my second last week.

This is my first newsletter of 2021, mainly due to the lockdown we experienced at the start of the year: aside from my regular work for the London Evening Standard, I didn’t have much to report, until now!

Artist in Residence

Over the past few weeks I have been in discussions with Horatio’s Garden, a national charity creating and nurturing beautiful gardens in NHS spinal injury centres to support everyone affected by spinal injury. I am pleased to say they have commissioned me to be their Artist in Residence throughout July and August to work with patients and combine the healing power of nature and the outdoors with the therapeutic powers of photography. This is a very exciting opportunity for me to explore a different avenue within photography, one that came as a direct result of my exhibition and book The River Meadow at the Pile of Stones. Special thanks go to Victoria and Evie at Horatio’s Garden for the commission, and to Lallie Davis, Partnership and Strategies Manager at Buckinghamshire Culture, for introducing me to Horatio’s.

At the time of writing I had completed two sessions – watch this space to see the project’s development and achievements.

A Constant Ramble

Staying with the theme of the outdoors, during the winter lockdown I began research on my next personal project (presently untitled), which continues the theme of The River Meadow by exploring the relationship between humanity and the environment, focusing on the whole of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The Chilterns, as it is affectionately called, is a chalk escarpment northwest of London which covers 660 square miles (1,700km2) stretching 45 miles (72km), in a southwest to a northeast diagonal, from Goring-on-Thames to Hitchin across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, and Bedfordshire. There are many walking trails throughout the AONB, one of which, The Chiltern Way, established in 1965 by The Chiltern Society, is a 134 mile circular walk highlighting the best features of the landscape. Combined with research and investigation, I aim to walk The Chiltern Way to discover, first-hand, the diversity of the area. Consequently, the Chiltern Conservation Board has commissioned me to write a monthly blog of my adventures: I have entitled this ‘A Constant Ramble’.

On these adventures I will be identifying, interviewing and photographing one person who lives or works along each section of the route. The blog is already up and running, with my second post published last week.

And finally…

It has long been my desire to use a medium format camera to execute these projects, so I have invested in the new Fujifilm GFX 100s mirrorless medium format camera. The resolution of each image is 4x times that of my Leica M(240) rangefinder and designed for documentary, portrait and landscape photography. No pressure then!