The landscape as a source of lyricism, spiritual comfort and nostalgia has always loomed large in British consciousness, but by the end of the 1970s a number of photographers began to take pictures that questioned this ideal.
Fleeting Arcadias, selected by the artist and writer John Stathatos, addresses such issues as ecological concerns, land ownership, commercial exploitations and contrasts and compares the work of photographers as diverse as Fay Godwin, John Blakemore, Ray Moore, Martin Parr, Ingrid Pollard and Chris Wainwright.
The images range in approach from Martin Parr’s satirically humorous picture of a sightseer at Glastonbury Tor taken in 1975, to the stark contrast of Chris Wainwright’s focus on the oppressive presence of the nuclear industry in Gateshead from 1964. Fay Godwin and John Blakemore contribute almost sculptural images of Welsh land and seascapes. Ingrid Pollard’s examination of difference and belonging, show how an essentially conservative view of tradition and heritage can isolate and exclude.
These pictures are from the Arts Council Collection, which is one of the largest loan collections of modern British art in the world.
Chris Wainwright: NE 1 Nuclear Power Station, Gateshead, 1984 © Arts Council Collection
Martin Parr: Beauty Spots, Glastonbury Tor, 1976 © Arts Council Collection