on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

The Dart Head

Stephen Peart

Stephen Peart

I am an amateur photographer. I first picked up a camera with serious intent about 18 months ago. I feel that a landscape image is as much a recollection of an emotional response to a scene as it is a physical record of that particular scene.

These images form part of a body of work that will focus on the river Dart in Devon.

Using Alice Oswald’s award winning, long form, poem “Dart” as a guide I am hoping to interpret the river as it flows from its source on the high, floating bogs of Dartmoor, through south Devon to the sea.

These four images are taken around the Dart’s source, high up on the mires and peat bogs of central Dartmoor. Oswald herself refers to this area of Dartmoor as having an “amphibious vagueness, neither pool nor land”. It is an area devoid of feature, where a thin layer of grasses cover a sodden earth. It is a primordial landscape, an Ur-landscape, whose power lies in Blake’s sublime or Nietzsche’s void rather than the picturesque.

It is an unforgiving space. The lack of physical features, the constant wind, the wet everywhere make it both physically and emotionally exhausting. In Oswald’s poem one of the “voices” deliberately imagines a figure on the horizon so as to quell the sense of isolation and vulnerability. In three visits to the area I’ve yet to see another soul.

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