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Walter Lewis

Associate Member

Walter Lewis:Elemental Photographer

I am a fine art photographer concerned with who we are, what we are and how we relate to the world around us. My work is a reflective search for the emotional engagement and wisdom through which to find greater fulfilment and sustainability in a contemporary world.

I believe that we live in a world which is a hybrid forged out of a fusion of nature and human culture. It is a world of multiple agencies in which there is constant, profound and unpredictable change. As such the critical theory of the likes of Tim Ingold, William Connolly, Edward Casey, Jane Bennett, Emily Brady and others in the folds of contemporary philosophy, cultural geography and anthropology provides my intellectual inspiration. (1)

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The aim in my photography is to engage reflectively with this world around us so as to achieve a deeper emotional engagement and fulfilment. I seek out places where I can make pictures which offer the space and time for deep and profound reflection. To look at the light and dark, the flow of textures, form and structure, the growing, the decaying and the apparently static. For me such reflection, whether arising from the everyday or the spectacular, comprises both an affective engagement – a sensual and emotional encounter – with the physical form, and an imaginative and cognitive meditation of the ways of the world and our part in it.

The work is intensely personal. I seek pictures that re-present figments of the places and times in which I find myself and which challenge established ideas of reality, particularly in relation to the mundane or everyday.

After training as a scientist and a successful career in technology commercialisation, I am now focused on my first love of photography and in the final few months of an MA course at the University of Sunderland under the tutorage of John Kippen, Marjolaine Ryley, Alex Moschovi and Carol McKay. During the course of the MA my work has explored the village of East Keswick as a place of the complexities of a contemporary and privileged relationship with nature.

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The village lies just to the north of the Leeds conurbation. After centuries as a small tenant-farming community, the latter half of the 20th century saw the village turn into a much sought after place of residence for urban professionals of Yorkshire’s golden triangle of Leeds, York and Harrogate. Seemingly pretty, safe and affluent – this is an England where the residents are no longer constrained by the hardships and immobility of the past.

But what does closeness to nature mean here? How do we execute our freedom of choice? How do we relate to what is around us? Just what are we in our contemporary and access-privileged countryside? I provide sample images as an illustration of my approach.

Education

  • 1969 -1974
    • University of Manchester
  • 2010 – Present
    • University of Sunderland

Qualifications

Bachelor of Science (1st Class Honours, Biochemistry, 1971)
Doctor of Philosophy (Biochemistry, 1975)
Master of Arts (Photography – pending Autumn 2012)

Photographic Awards and Exhibitions

  • 2011
    • New Blood, Sandman Goudie Gallery, South Shields (Group Exhibition)
    • Common Ground, Vardy Gallery, University of Sunderland (Group Exhibition)
  • 2009
    • Gold Medal, Trierenberg Circuit, Austria
  • 2008
    • Royal Photographic Society International Print Exhibition, London (Group Exhibition)
    • Lowepro Environmental award in AA/Sunday Times Landscape Photographer of the Year
  • 2007
    • Gold Medal, FIAP French Digital Tour, France
    • Royal Photographic Society Projected Image Exhibition, London (Group Exhibition)

Photographic Papers

For A ‘More-Than-Human’ World – Contemporary Photography in the Spirit of the Romantics. MA Dissertation. University of Sunderland

Examples of Background Critical Theory:

Bennett, Jane: Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things, Duke University, North Carolina, 2010
Brady, Emily: Aesthetics of the Natural Environment, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2003
Casey, Edward: Earth Mapping: Artists Reshaping Landscape, University of Minnesota, Minnesota, 2005
Connolly, William: World of Becoming, Duke University, North Carolina, 2011
Cronon, William: Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature, Norton & Co. New York, 1997
Ingold, Tim: Being Alive: Essays in Movement, Knowledge and Description, Routledge, London, 2010
Whatmore, Sarah: Hybrid Geographies: Natures, Cultures, Spaces, Sage, London, 2002

Walter Lewis

e-mail : walterlewis@live.co.uk
website : www.spiritoftheland.co.uk

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