Ox Close: Conversations with an English Woodland

Ox Close Wood is a small area of ancient woodland in West Yorkshire. The wood has a long history of being 'worked' by man. For many centuries it was a significant resource in the life of adjacent village, East Keswick. Villagers took timber and nuts from the wood, alongside using it for grazing of their animals. Extensive coppicing maintained the vitality of the woodland. A series of terraces crossing the wood are thought to be part of a medieval strip system. Today the wood is owned by the village wildlife trust and so remains an area of open access.

Ox Close is my attempt to represent multiple conversations with the woodland. Conversations that are between equals, and reflect the wood as a being in its own terms rather than ours. It is an attempt to create space for patience and attention to the 'insignificant', one in which to meditate my relationship with the natural world. A space in which to imagine a new order based on partnership – even symbiosis – between culture and nature. Ultimately it is my attempt to acknowledge, and to engage in, the choices which we have to make to restore the world to sustainability.

The work owes much to the inspiration of Ray Metzker, an American photographer trained in the 1940's under Harry Callahan. Through his lifetime, Metzker developed a style of landscape photography where he explored, in material and metaphoric form, the chaos and complexity of the arborial world around us.