• josutherstphotography

Informing Contexts – My Practice

For me, the inherent characteristics of my practice are centred around the concept of photographs as art.  My work has a tactility and materiality not generally associated with the photographic image.  I see my photographs as fiction.  They have an expression of imagination and individuality, and are staged with a constructed narrative. There is also an element of digital enhancement for aesthetic and narrative purposes.

Figure 1: Sutherst Woodland Pixie 2016

I produce my images to be felt and touched. I am interested in the use of materials and textures to expand the narrative.  I enjoy blurring boundaries between the traditional and non-traditional, the expected and the unexpected.  The notions of time, space, process, and participation are not always clear in my images. Increasingly I am intrigued and excited by the ways in which materials obstruct, disrupt and interfere with what is normal or expected from an image.

To date my context has been electronically based.  Online galleries, blog and social media platforms enable me to quickly share aspects of my practice and provide me with channels of feedback and critique.  But this is limited.  The compression of images for electronic viewing and the flatness of a scanned image remove a key component of my work.  With this in mind, I am moving towards physical installations for my work. By this, I don’t just mean hanging on a wall in a gallery.  I am seeking out other opportunities to show my work. I am looking at contemporary and contradictory settings to fully understand how this affects the interpretation. For example, I will be looking to explore outdoor spaces (forests etc.) as venues for the installation. Here the context of the work will be read very differently to images that I display in a more formal gallery environment.

I have been researching outdoor installations of work and have been particularly impressed and intrigued by the work of artist Anthony Garratt.  His ‘High and Low / Uchel ac Isel’ installation is spectacular.  Here he created two large scale landscape paintings in the environment they were later displayed in.  One is a double sided painting that floats on a lake in the shadow of Mount Snowdon.  The other is sited in an abandoned slate mine.  Garratt created the work the respond and react with the location. He used copper, iron and iron mixed in with the paints to allow the weather to continually develop his paintings.  The viewer interprets his work based on several factors .  In Belcher’s article in The Telegraph (2014), Garratt describes how his work might be viewed by others “While visitors might view the landscapes in a warm sunny breeze, the visually explosive, expressionist works portray each scene in diverse weather, reflecting the wild winter days Garratt has spent on the island. “Weather changes everything,” he says. “The light, the mood, the whole lot. It’s very thought provoking to see several different skies in one painting.””  I aim to allow the environment to develop my work in much the same way as Garratt.  I will be investigating the use of copper wire instead of thread on my embroidered images.

Figure 2: Anthony Garratt 

Figure 3:  Anthony Garratt 

Another important consideration will be the labelling and titles given to my images.  How I label and title my images will have a profound impact on how they are interpreted and received in each context.  There is work to do here over the next few months. Exciting times ahead.


agarratt. (2017). agarratt. [online] Available at: https://www.agarratt.com/ [Accessed 01 February 2017].

Belcher, I. (2014). Outdoor art in Britain. [online] The Telegraph. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/united-kingdom/articles/Outdoor-art-in-Britain/ [Accessed 01 February 2017].

Figure 2: Garratt, A. From ANTHONY GARRATT, CONTEMPORARY ARTIST. 2017. ANTHONY GARRATT, CONTEMPORARY ARTIST. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.agarratt.com/installations. [Accessed 08 February 2017].

Figure 3: Garratt, A. From ANTHONY GARRATT, CONTEMPORARY ARTIST. 2017. ANTHONY GARRATT, CONTEMPORARY ARTIST. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.agarratt.com/installations. [Accessed 08 February 2017].


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