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