Fay Godwin

!! to update with my own detailed thoughts on Land, The Edge of the Land and Our Forbidden Land as I critique my own work in Assignment 5.

Publications

Fay Godwin (17 February 1931 – 27 May 2005) was a British photographer known for her black-and-white landscapes of the British countryside and coast. Her approach was very intuitive and felt that images where she had thought too deeply about composition and meaning had less ‘visceral’ power as a response to what she was seeing.

She was self-taught and her obsession with photography started with family photos and producing photo albums for neighbours. produced portraits and documentary work of factory workers. Much of the emotional charge of her images she attributes to difficulties in her personal life: traumatic marriage break-up, cancer and struggles to support her children that led her to throw herself into her work. She produced portraits of writers and also documentary work on factory workers. But it is for her landscape photography that she is best known.

Justin Jones overview of her work in the context of her life and politics . Discusses many of her iconic photographs. And what he sees as some of the gender dimensions of her work – though I feel some of these distinctions may be a bit exaggerated and not sure how far Fay herself would see her work in this way.

Landscape photography and activism

She was a very vocal critic of the ‘picturesque’ and her photographs aim to capture landscapes as they really are with all their historical, social and political complexity.

“I am wary of picturesque pictures. I get satiated with looking at postcards in local newsagents and at the picture books that are on sale, many of which don’t bear any relation to my own experience of the place… The problem for me about these picturesque pictures, which proliferate all over the place, is that they are a very soft warm blanket of sentiment, which covers everybody’s idea about the countryside… It idealises the country in a very unreal way.”
(Fay Godwin 1986 South Bank Show Produced and directed by Hilary Chadwick, London Weekend Television quoted Alexander 2013 p84.)

Comprehensive Melvin Bragg overview of her life and work from old TV programme. Discusses Godwin’s landscape photography in the context of conventions and innovation in landscape art and critique of ‘picturesque’. Includes many interviews with Fay herself on her responses to landscape and approaches to photography.

She combined her landscape photography with environmental activism against the ravages of 1980s Thatcherism and as President of the Ramblers’ Association.

Mavis Nicholson interviews Fay Godwin on the ‘In with Mavis’ program from 1991. She talks a lot about her photography in the context of her environmental activism, particularly destruction of landscapes because of building of the Channel Tunnel.
Selection of prints from the 25th anniversary of Fay Godwin’s seminal exhibition and book Land from the original exhibition. https://www.scienceandmediamuseum.org…
Peter Cattrell worked as Fay Godwin’s printer. Interesting discussion of printing choices he made. And discussion of her last experiments placing objects on photographic plates as experiments. Also some interesting insights into her personality -as well as poignancy of her fragility, illnesses and death.
  • Rebecca the Lurcher. 1973
  • The Oldest Road: An Exploration of the Ridgeway. 1975. With J.R.L. Anderson.
  • Remains of Elmet. Rainbow Press, 1979. With poems by Ted Hughes.
    • Remains of Elmet. Faber and Faber, 1979. ISBN 9780571278763.
    • Elmet. Faber and Faber, 1994. With new additional poems and photographs.
    • Remains of Elmet. Faber and Faber, 2011. ISBN 9780571278763.
  • The Saxon Shore Way. Hutchinson (publisher), 1983. With Alan Sillitoe. ISBN 0091514606.
  • Land. Heinemann, 1985. With John Fowles. ISBN 0434303054.
  • !!Edge of the Land
  • Glassworks & Secret Lives. 1999. ISBN 0953454517.
  • Landmarks. Stockport: Dewi Lewis, 2002. ISBN 1-899235-73-6. With an introduced by Simon Armitage and an essay by Roger Taylor.