Until recently Barrie Dale saw himself simply as a nature photographer. Then, with nature being destroyed to the point where it was possible to envisage none being left, he also became a conservationist. He now both conserves and photographs wild plants. Wild plants are typically very simple. This appears to give them great visual intensity, and he now wants to explore this artistic potential. He finds the simplicity challenging, and sometimes frustrating, but ultimately rewarding. His work is available online in a range of formats, and a print exhibition is planned for the Spring. He talks to us about his passion for photography.
A: Tell us more about your processes and the photographs you take.
BD: I have little interest in producing technically perfect photographs. I am interested only in conveying to others a passionate interest in the beauty of the natural world. Photography seems be in danger of becoming dominated by technology. I find that many technically perfect modern images are lacking in feeling. I see that as a trap, and I want to avoid it.
In a famous statement the Spanish poet Lorca put the matter clearly: artists must express themselves forcibly, with no regard for technical virtuosity or mere prettiness. He called such uninhibited expressiveness ‘duende’. You can see ‘duende’ in, for example, the work of Rinko Kawauchi. She appears to care little for technical correctness, but her passion is unmistakeable: and it is often said that the images of the great Robert Capa, who was also a passionate photographer, would have been rejected at the local camera club, on technical grounds.
Passion consumes you and takes control. I have often wondered how great artists handled their moments of supreme creativity; how did Purcell contain himself as he wrote ‘Dido’s Lament’; Turner as he painted the ‘Blue Rigi’; or Tchaikovsky as he heard, for the first time, in his head, the ‘Pathetique’ .
If, at the end of a photo session I don’t feel emotionally drained I haven’t been trying hard enough. I expect to have to fight for my pictures. What I see as my best camera angles are often those requiring the most contortion. So I usually end up aching all over. (This is not a complaint; I know how lucky I am to want to do it, and be able to do it).
All my photographs are one-offs. I need the adrenaline rush associated with doing something new, perhaps something slightly scary. I think I am at my best under pressure, struggling. I often find myself at the limit of my camera, my lenses, and my technical ability. I hope this is not simply a fetish.
A: The first image in the gallery is Party Dress. How do you see this image?
BD: There are several ways of looking at it. It is clearly a flower, but also seems immediately to suggest a girl or young woman in a party dress. Or, the poise might suggest a ballet dancer. For me though, the main interest lies elsewhere. The inside of the flower is a bright, shiny white. It collects light in the same way that a telescope does. The inside of the flower is thus illuminating the translucent petals, to give the crisp, delicate, fragile edge at the front of the picture. I find that edge fascinating. I was hoping, also, that the intense whiteness coming from the centre of the flower, and the resulting, washed-out colours, would convey the feeling of the blinding light of a hot summer day.
A: The second image is Trees, Water, Wind, Sun; and a Fallen Leaf. A much more abstract piece.
BD: The key, again, is the secondary source of light within the picture frame. A line of trees reflected in water would make a pleasant enough image. The wind on the water breaks up the image in an interesting way, introduces movement, and, as you say, makes the image more abstract. But then there is the golden leaf, submerged in the water, reflecting sunlight. Changing the camera position to bring this leaf to a critical point in the picture frame seems to me to lift the whole image, giving it both energy and added mystery.
You can see more of the Artists work at www.wildhaven.co.uk
To see his listing in the Artists’ Directory in Aesthetica Magazine issue 60 pick up a copy at www.aestheticamagazine.com
1. Party Dress, Barrie Dale. Courtesy of the Artist
2.Trees, Water, Wind, Sun; and a Fallen Leaf Barrie Dale. Courtesy of the Artist