Since 2016 David Foster has been creating a body of artwork in places associated with the English artist Paul Nash (1889-1946). Using photography (especially double-exposure photography) as well as moving image and found objects, the project constitutes Foster’s response both to the places in which Nash lived and worked, and to the dynamics that Nash brought out of these places in his painting, writing and photography.
The title of the project is taken from Nash’s description, in his autobiography, of his experience of a Hampshire woodland as a child. ‘The fields and sky’, he writes, ‘might be shouting at the top of their voices, but in the wood everything seemed to be listening.’ Similarly, the guiding force behind Foster’s practice is an engagement with the consciousness of the natural world, and today it seems equally true that the natural world is not merely listening but crying out. As another of Foster’s influences, Terence McKenna, writes: ‘A rise in the volume of the voices of the elementals [is] part and parcel with the ecological crisis. The planet is attempting to speak. Everything which can signify is reaching out toward humanity to try and reclaim us for the family of nature.’
A partial record of his ongoing movement towards being reclaimed in this way, Foster’s work attempts to relay something of the elemental energies of the land and the skies, and results from his many peregrinations – on foot, by bicycle, never by car – around a number of places in Southern England connected with Nash’s work: from Wittenham Clumps in Oxfordshire and Romney Marsh in Kent, to Avebury in Wiltshire and the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset, among many others.
This exhibition presents the third and final body of work on the project. The first two bodies of work were shown in Rye, East Sussex (where Nash lived in the late 1920s) and in Swanage, Dorset (where Nash lived in the 1930s). Nash spent his last years living on the Banbury Road in Oxford in the 1940s, so it seems fitting that the final body of work should be shown here.
As with all of Foster’s photographic work, the images are titled with a grid reference (in this case the Ordnance Survey grid reference code) giving the location where the image was made. All of the images were made in camera and not subject to any digital manipulation. That is to say, the double exposures are created in the field using the camera itself, not in post-production.
This exhibition is supported using public funding by Arts Council England, and by Oxford City Council.