april and november 2011

Ron Haselden

The work is entitled Ouessant Sorties. It addresses how it is the minutiae – tiny, even trivial or incidental details – that lie beneath and support big events. Minutiae are also precise, exact.

The island of Ouessant is documented (even excessively) as a monument to scenic splendour. The dramatic seascape environment invites endless streams of visitors to visit, to experience all it has to offer, with a suggestion that it is as far from their daily preoccupations as from their lives. The indigenous island community supplies the support system for this while their own ways of living have changed over the years, from previous occupations such as fishing and agriculture, in response to the economic demands of contemporary survival.

The dramatic changing weather patterns, tidal movements, and other natural phenomena seem more visible in the isolated world of the island. One is hyper-sensitised to these.

The sense of solitude this brings about is unnerving.

I have examined the discreet and sometimes unnoticed details of island life: the miniscule activities of plant-life close to the surface where we tread, the lives of the insect world, which have often proceeded the arrival of humankind, obstinately continue as before, adapting to changes in order to survive. This appears to be a surprisingly reliable situation, when larger events appear much more vulnerable.

The work describes a series of small sorties with the camera to look closely at what is happening underfoot. Each visit resulted in a new work. The photographs were later arranged in chronological order to form rising towers on the page. The final results traced my thoughts, which had been recorded by the camera. They provide a curious architecture, a particular and personal taxonomy, an arrangement of space/place, occupation/habitation, and conscious and unconscious thought.

I made two visits to Ouessant to realise the work (although I had visited once before, with my son, and so had a sense of the island already, far from a romantic or idealised view). I made the first journey in the spring and the second in the autumn. The work records (but this is not a documentary) the birth and death of plant and insect life, with their associated forms and colours.

The resulting works form a suite of images, which have been shown as small framed works in a gallery. A later phase, on which I am currently working, will present them as large scale wall hangings mounted side by side. The methods of ordering, classifying, according to a logic of structure and colour, may been observed in many of my works.

Ron Haselden