on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Fields of the British Isles

Contemporary images that still reveal something of the historical landscape layers

Fran Halsall

Fran Halsall specialises in photographing the UK landscape, particularly the wilder parts of the coastline, moorlands and woodlands, and has a particular passion for creating interpretative images of geological formations.



Britain's landscape has many faces and with its remote uplands, dramatic summits and thousands of miles of dynamic coastline to explore, it is easy for these subjects to dominate the photographic narrative. This is in spite of the fact that much of the country is not like this. Most land has been, or still is, used for food production and farmers are responsible for the stewardship of 75% of Britain's total area1. 'Wild' Britain was pushed to the margins long ago by the spread of agriculture and now the nation's fabric is defined by its fields.

The compartmentalisation of the land has inspired its own terminology: one cannot think of fields without likening them to a 'patchwork' and combined en masse they provided inspiration for Blake's 'green and pleasant land'2, a phrase that is synonymous with a nostalgic version of Britain. The word 'pastoral', derived from grazing pastures, is applied to artistic, literary and musical output relating to the rural. Due to countless poorly-realised visual iterations and hackneyed repetitions of Constable's England the pastoral is now regarded as twee and is unfairly tainted by an air of backward-looking irrelevance.

Early morning mist swirls around the base of Compton Hill and Wavering Down in Somerset.  Just visible through the mist is Compton Bishop village surrounded by fields enclosed with traditional hedgerows.  Part of the Mendip Hills AONB.

Early morning mist swirls around the base of Compton Hill and Wavering Down in Somerset. Just visible through the mist is Compton Bishop village surrounded by fields enclosed with traditional hedgerows. Part of the Mendip Hills AONB.



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