I made this body of work as a response to questions about history and landscape and where and how my own sensibilities and opinions align. The British Isles has a wonderfully rich and robust history: myths and stories that tell tales of romance and desolation that stretch along every era of human time. Despite this abundance I never really engaged with history at school. Heavy (and heavy-going) text books didn’t exactly bring history to life for me when I was younger and nowadays I always find that I am aware that history is equally about the historian than the events they are researching and recounting. When I look at history through landscape and landscape through history I get a better appreciation of both terms and a more personal experience of them too. They seem to complement each other perfectly with layers of time hidden under the surfaces of the present, and the promises of many secrets yet to be revealed.
What I also found when starting this series was that history works best when I look at it from a non-linear perspective. The resulting photographs show how my understanding of history is best seen through a ‘moment of experience’, and are purposely devoid of the customary titles that depict place names, dates and related facts. I believe that photography functions as an archive and in that respect my photographs contribute to the history of each place, functioning as a metahistorical record. The way in which history is documented and recorded over time forms subsequent interpretations which are both cultural and personal.
As with all my work, more questions are raised than answers and in this respect I invite the viewer to ask themselves what they believe the history is behind the site shown in each photograph; to formulate their own personal experience of place and history from the photographs in front of them.
Tom will be exhibiting work from this series in a joint exhibition in Nottingham, UK, 7th – 21st July, with a former ITO featured photographer, Mike Colechin
ABOUT TOM WILKINSON
Tom graduated in 2014 with an MA(dist) in Photography from Nottingham Trent University. This was his fourth university qualification so to say that he likes studying and academia is a bit of an understatement! To pay the bills Tom works with images in a forensic context which has given him a unique insight into both the world of forensics and how images and photographs function as evidence within the systems that create it.
As an art photographer Tom likes to work in projects and series, which allows him to get knee-deep in research, philosophy and photography theory. His History Lessens series will be exhibited at the Photo Parlour in Nottingham in July 2017 and a selected image from it was part of the 2015 FotoFilmic travelling exhibition in Vancouver, New York and Seoul.
“To photograph landscape is to give an opinion of it, that says as much about the photographer as it does the land. With this in mind, my work explores identities of place and of self with a view to discovering something about the nature of how the photograph functions within them and about the nature of the ‘moment of experience’ and the sense of belonging that results.
I am heavily influenced by the work of continental philosophers, Heidegger and Sartre in particular, and endeavour to incorporate their important thinking in my work. This serves to identify and develop my rationale as an artist whilst at the same time situates my practice within a framework that allows me to explore the nature of philosophical ideas in photography.” – Tom Wilkinson
Unless otherwise stated, all words and images in this article are © Tom Wilkinson