Early April 2017 saw my ongoing photographic series 'The Welcome Rest' taking 'to-the-road' and extended to the beautiful forest environment at Grizedale in Cumbria. Working within the actual forest and with the public, the Forestry Commission and Forest Art Works there was a three-day free photographic portrait shoot of dogs and their walkers. This project, funded by Arts Council England will become a solo exhibition and publication at the Grizedale Forest Visitor Centre - offering an articulation of how not only place and space enriches existence, but how the seemingly mundane - yet complex relationships - between dogs and their walkers enhance the everyday.
And so within the beautiful woodland bothy at Grizedale I spent early April photographing passing dogs and their walkers.
As a thank you for taking part, walkers were given a Polaroid portrait as a quick takeaway. I remain surprised at how delighted and charmed people are by these humble images in an instant... added to that as the Polaroid stock I use expired in October 2019 results aren't consistent and can see unfortunate decapitations...
This was a memorable shoot. For a woman who usually works so close to home, Cumbria seemed far from the usual stomping ground. But as ever, through the dogs conversations were readily created and the powerful relationship and bond between the human and canine became quickly evident. Working in film means the sitters don't get to see the final shots, these remain for now as negatives and in the coming week or so I shall begin preparing, printing and editing for the exhibition.
As usual, the dogs took the portrait seriously, always they looked to camera and held the gaze.
These are of course knowingly modest portraits – but arguably reward scrutiny, showing as they do how lives are enhanced and conversations initiated through dog ownership.
Forthcoming Exhibition Dates: 7th June '17–31st October '17