I’ve bought a copy of Drained by Paul Hart (Dewi Lewis 2018), photographs of 40 or so Fen landscapes in muted monochrome. The flat peaty fields lie under sombre skies as dykes, pylons and roads lead out to distant horizons. Buildings, where they exist, are isolated and shuttered, it is a land almost bereft of people. An ironic desertion: this landscape in product of human ingenuity, of unending drainage dating back to the Seventeenth Century. Hart focuses on the land’s formal, artificial, construction. In his introduction to Drained, Francis Hodgson writes of the Fens as ‘alien, mysterious’, ‘foreign’ and ‘melancholy’. My fenscapes tend to be more upbeat – clouds may have a certain mystery, but they are joyous or dramatic rather than melancholy.
Photo: Stow cum Quy Fen, Cambs, December 2018