Photographer finds a new way to show the resilience of nature

ON his way to the studio one day, photographer Glen Perotte was struck by the resilience of the natural world around him – the way wildflowers and weeds seemed to survive in spite of everything.

Glen Perotte’s exhibition Remnants of Life is at CCA Galleries in Hill Street Picture: JON GUEGAN
Glen Perotte’s exhibition Remnants of Life is at CCA Galleries in Hill Street Picture: JON GUEGAN

In these strange times, dominated by the isolation of the pandemic and longer-term concerns about global warming, those images of nature’s resilience made an impression.

Under their influence – he calls it a state of mind – Mr Perotte took his camera and the other tools of the photographer’s trade out into the open air and began to photograph the most beautiful examples of the phenomena he could see around him. There were, he says, some interesting results but there was something missing.

‘I felt that it didn’t have quite the impact or the message that I wanted which was for people to see them and their beauty, and in their own environment I just couldn’t see that was achievable,’ he said. ‘The best way was to isolate and extract them, and to bring them into a setting where they become the stars. You don’t see anything else – you just see them.’

Mr Perotte is standing in front of the results of his labours – some of the most striking images of the natural world that you could imagine, their detail and textured beauty, defying any effort to decode just how they have been captured in two dimensions.

The images are somehow a defiant assertion of the power of nature. Of course, the ironic gap between nature struggling to survive in extremis and its confident domination of these idealised images is the whole point of Remnants of Life, an exhibition which runs at CCA Galleries International in Hill Street until 22 October, sponsored by Bedell Cristin.

There are some key design principles at work although you cannot easily infer them from what you see in the images. The natural objects are tethered and arranged in a tank which affords the opportunity for them to be photographed against an aqueous background. In fact, the word background hardly suffices – sometimes the objects sit on a thin sheet of wet glass.

In the same way as colour is imparted to the sea by the reflection of the sky and the intensity of light, so here the flora are given their particular hue by similarly reflected light. It is, as Mr Perotte puts it aptly, ‘the magic’ of what he wants to achieve.

You might imagine, quite wrongly as it turns out, that post-production had played a major part in the results, the wonders of the digital world that the photographer uses with relish in his commercial work might achieve such a transformation. In fact, the role of manipulation in the process is very modest.

‘I enjoy the challenges of my commercial work but for my personal work it has to be honest. What you see is coming out of the camera. I may help it along by mostly using the same shot and taking bits of colour and putting it where I want,’ the photographer said.

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