There is only Light, 21/06/2018-27/06/2018

Celebrating DIP’s 30th birthday

Dorset Independent Photographers have looked to writer John Fowles for the title of their 30th anniversary exhibition in June at The Malthouse, Town Mill, Lyme Regis.

In styles ranging from landscape and documentary to abstract and wildlife, images by the photographers for their 30th anniversary exhibition go to the heart of the former Lyme novelist’s assertions “that nothing and nobody is what they seem” and “there is only light”.

The show, sponsored by Lyme Bay Holidays, marks a special birthday for the group of eight photographers. Dorset Independent Photographers came into being as a result of an inspiring weekend workshop in Dorchester led by Fay Godwin, a seminal figure in 20th century British landscape photography.

Members, who are mostly based in West Dorset, have come and gone since that important weekend in 1988. But the group has been meeting regularly in each others’ homes to share work ever since, and two of the founder members – Tim Edwards and Ian Chapman – are still actively involved. The group has also exhibited widely in the region, including at the Town Mill back in 2005.

Photographic styles may have evolved since the 1980s, but Dorset Independent Photographers has remained a constant presence in the region’s visual arts scene. The secret of its staying power has been its informality, its members’ willingness to share work in progress and to exchange honest but constructive criticism.

The exhibition includes information about photographic processes, and individual members will be on hand every day. Saturday, June 23rd offers the opportunity to meet several of the photographers and to discuss their differing approaches.

  • Malcolm Macnaughtan’s approach takes us back to the early days of the group, and to the roots of photography itself. His body of work entitled A Land of Mountains and Flood records on large format monochrome film the effects of rapidly changing light on the landscape of the Western Highlands. The culmination of this work is the fine print made using traditional darkroom printing techniques – the embodiment of the use of light in its purest sense.
  • Images of urban life by Paul Clarke – everyday scenes that many of us might take of granted – may seem a million miles from the wilds of Scotland. But the time of day at which he presses the shutter and the prevailing light conditions will have an equally powerful impact on the final print. “This is the visual language of photography and storytelling through light,” says Paul.
  • The city has also provided inspiration for Ian Chapman. Wandering the streets of Edinburgh he was struck by how light revealed glimpses of the city’s past and clues to its present character. Together his elusive images of obscure fragments create a narrative of connections across time.
  • Lisa Bukalders’ photography is driven by a lifelong passion for nature and wildlife. “For me it’s all about being there, being immersed in nature, and being able to capture more than just a likeness, but also the mood, character and spirit of the animals,” she says. In this, the strong southern African light plays a crucial roIe, sometimes by softening the shimmering edges of her dreamlike images, and at others by throwing her subjects into sharp relief for an all-to-brief moment.
  • John Tilsley looks further north for his photographs – to the altogether chillier light of Iceland, Finland or the depths of a North Norfolk winter. Alongside his passion for landscape, he is continuing to record New Forest Pony sales as well as the work of heritage railway volunteers.
  • Like John, Andy White is often drawn to the shore. For this exhibition he has concentrated on the Jurassic coast on his doorstep, while not forgetting the rest of the world. “I have kept away from the stereotypical images of sea and sand, and instead have focused on challenging weather conditions and light that are difficult to photograph and yet hugely rewarding.
  • Chris Hilton considers himself something of a photographic magpie, collecting the shiny things that catch his eye. “it’s just about the way the light reacts with that splash of colour, the interesting shape or something darting into shot – but it’s always about the light.”
  • Summing up the group’s enthusiasm for this year’s Fowles-inspired exhibition theme, Tim Edwards advises:  “Just be open to what light can offer.” Speaking about his abstract images, he explains: “My emotional response to the type of light on a particular day can have a profound effect on the final image. Ranging from dark and brooding to airy and joyous, colourful or monochromatic.”

Open daily 10am – 4.30pm, with free admission.