Inside this issue
Amanda Harman is an award-winning photographer, based in the South West of England. In recent years her work has focused on landscape and place, from the garden of a country house to the watery landscape of the Somerset Levels and the steep scarp of the Cotswolds near Stroud.
“Time spent walking and retracing routes across the landscape, in all weathers and seasons, is key to my current process and way of making images. By observing a place for months, and often years, I seek to reveal the unseen and the insignificant, and by quiet observation elevate the beauty of ordinary and overlooked places.”
Her work and approach have been recognised by a number of awards. She was the winner of the Sony World Photography Award for Still Life in 2014 for the ‘Garden Stories’ series and shortlisted again in 2018 in the Landscape category for ‘A Fluid Landscape’. ‘Garden Stories’ also won the Critical Mass Exhibition Award in 2016, with a solo show at Blue Sky, Centre for the Photographic Arts, in Portland, Oregon. ‘A Fluid Landscape’ was published as photobook in 2018 by Another Place Press and exhibited in a solo exhibition at Gallery at Home in 2020. ‘Garden Stories’ was published in the Field Notes series by Another Place Press in 2020.
Amanda has worked on a range of commissions, residencies and projects for galleries, museums, charities and commercial clients. Her work has been exhibited widely in the UK and internationally and is held in a number of collections, including the V & A Museum, London.
In 2012 I paused by my local river and everything changed. I’ve moved away from what many expect photographs to be: my images deconstruct the literal and reimagine the subjective, reflecting the curiosity that water has inspired in my practice. Water has been my conduit: it has sharpened my vision, given me permission to experiment and continues to introduce me to new ways of seeing.
In 2019 Charlotte spoke to Amanda about her book ‘A Fluid Landscape’, which had just been published by Another Place Press. In it, she explored the changing landscape of the Somerset levels, an area which through human intervention had transitioned from sea to land and which in recent years after extensive and damaging management has begun to be returned to a richer landscape of water filled rhynes, damp fens, wet woodland, salt marsh and open water fringed with reed beds.
Since then, a second book ‘Garden Stories’ has been published by APP featuring images made around the gardens and outbuildings of an English country house which Amanda has described as a series of unintended or ‘accidental’ still-lives, seeking to make visible the unseen and often unsung work of the gardeners.
Over the past few years, Amanda has been working close to her own home near Stroud in Gloucestershire, UK, exploring landscapes that we have altered and left as a legacy. A lot of time can be spent looking for the ‘perfect’ landscape but we learn more from the imperfect and the ephemeral… a slow burn, rather than fast love - coming to know a place. There are so many quiet stories waiting to be told if we choose to listen. Ahead of two forthcoming exhibitions that will feature her work from Golden Valley, we catch up with Amanda.
You talked about your education in our previous interview, so perhaps we can open with a little about yourself – what interests you have and where you’ve currently come to rest?
I suppose my personal interests and my photographic concerns have a large area of overlap, which I imagine is not uncommon! I have always loved walking in the landscape, exploring on both a macro and micro level. This love of being outdoors and connecting to the landscape has extended into related areas of interest, conservation and re-wilding, flooding & flood management and habitat restoration, and the impact of this on the environment, flora and fauna. I also love cycling and living in a super hilly place as I do, I have just acquired an electric bike with paniers for carrying my camera bag! I love to work on my garden, especially the planning and planting. Connecting and collaborating with other artists and particularly those working in other mediums, such as painters and writers is something that I also enjoy
A gift of a camera at age 18 sparked your passion for photography. What were your early influences, and what do you remember of the images that you made? Has anything remained as a constant?
I think I always had an innate interest in picturing the landscape, especially those liminal places where land, water and sky merge and reflect, such as estuaries and marshes where there are levels and layers of light and reflections. The degree course I went on to study had a strong documentary bent and my work was very much influenced by this at the time and for many years later. In more recent years I have found my way back to following my heart and my interests, and to find my own voice with the subjects that fascinate me.