Portraits in a landscape – About the project

South Downs National Park, Gote Farm

The South Downs are England’s most densely populated National Park. The bare hills of the South Downs and the agricultural landscape of the Weald make up a man-made landscape dating back millennia. The interaction between people and land was the starting point for this photographic project. It features people who live and work with the landscape, or who interpret it as artists. My first South Downs portraits were taken in March 2002, shortly after the creation of a South Downs National Park was announced. It took another nine years for it to be officially opened on 31 March 2011.The number of organisations for which I have worked as a photographer since then is a reflection of the changes in the administration of this landscape during that time.The portraits for this project were often taken alongside commissioned work. They feature people who I felt had a particular association with the landscape. I wanted to show them in the context of their surroundings, creating social documents and a record of people and their environment in a time of change. The term ‘environmental portrait’ has been in use for some time. It often refers to pictures that show people in a wider context, the surrounding environment helping to describe the picture’s subject. I am interested to find out whether the idea can be reversed when such portraits are viewed as a group. Here, I hope to describe a landscape through people whose lives are connected with it.