Paul Gaffney and Michal Iwanowski, Ffotogallery, Cardiff

Questioning the potential of the landscape to hold memory and provide a place for meditation are two solo exhibitions at ffotogallery, Cardiff. Until 8 March, Paul Gaffney’s We Make the Path by Walking and Michal Iwanowski’s Clear of People will engage with the idea of journeys as both artists document their personal expeditions across the land. The simple yet atmospheric photos in both exhibitions create a narrative of discovery as the depopulated scenes depict the path ahead. For both photographers, the act of long distance walking is integral to their artistic creation. Long and demanding walks across multiple countries and terrains provide the backbone to their photographic stories as the artists reflect on the world outside the comforts of home.

Gaffney, an Irish artist based in Dublin, documented multiple journeys across southern Europe to create his collection We Make the Path by Walking. Long interested in the notion of walking as a form of meditation and personal change, his exploratory exhibition is the product of over two thousand miles covered on foot. The images place the audience within soundless and empty locations, yet a human presence is still detectable. These spaces provide a place for reflection, not only for the artist, but for the many who have treaded the same footprints.

Building on the themes of contemplation and isolation are Iwanowski’s moving photos. Clear of People sees the artist following the path of his grandfather and great uncle as they walked over two thousand kilometres from a Russian prisoner of war camp to reach their family in Poland in 1945. Their tale of great hardship and struggle through a hostile environment is clearly woven into each of the photographs which are laden with emotion and a sense of hope at the end of the voyage. Accompanied by writing on their journey, Iwanowski’s exhibition is concerned with the relationship between landscape and memory as it marks the silent passing of those histories which may otherwise be forgotten.

Paul Gaffney and Michal Iwanowski until 8 March, ffotogallery, Turner House, Plymouth Road, Penarth, Wales, CF64 3DH.

1. Untitled #25, from We Make the Path by Walking, 2012 © Paul Gaffney.