Monday, June 27, 2011

Paul Hill "Corridor of Uncertainty"

Paul Hill is regarded as one of the most influential photographers of Great Britain and is best known for his work "White Peak, Dark Peak". (1990 Cornerhouse)  He has spent his life photographing and teaching photography near his home is in Derbyshire, Northern England.  One of the unique things he and his wife, Angela, did was in1976 to establish "The Photographer's Place", a location for photographers to gather for study, retreat, and a workshop environment.

After 40 years of marriage, Angela was diagnosed with cancer, and in 2006, 2 years after her diagnosis, died from the disease. Her husband then began his journey into an uncertain world without her.  His photographs became his response to the grief he was experiencing. His work was published in November and is entitled "Corridor of Uncertainty" (2010 Dewi Lewis Publishing)

The title itself is steeped in metaphor.  Although those of us in the states may be unfamiliar with the phrase, it actually comes from the sport of cricket, and refers to a place that a batsman struggles most to determine whether to play the ball or leave.  Apropos for someone mourning...  Paul Hill writes, "Bereavement, for me, is being between two states: what has been and what may take place in the future. The work that I have made mirrors this interstice"

We have seen other artists document death, but I found it interesting that he writes about his images, "Of course they are informed by the harrowing experience of my wife's fatal illness, but I did not - could not- document her decline directly."

When I glance through the images I am struck by the emotional nature of the pictures. Even had you not known his wife had died, looking through the images as a collection, you'd surely have felt that something tragic had occurred. The images are quite raw and intimate and I'm grateful that Paul Hill decided to share his process with us.

His book is not the end of the matter either, in fact, it seems to be just the beginning. Currently Paul Hill is involved in a research project looking at photography, bereavement and grief. A website at De Montfort University explains the hopes for the project.

I encourage you to take a minute to glance through some of the images from his book, follow this link to do so.

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