2003 In Search of the Sacred

Foreword by Alastair Snow
In writing about the 'making of landscape' Patrick Nuttgens refers to 'however natural and unaffected a place may look, the fact is that in our civilised world almost everything has been designed by someone.' He nominates a number of artefacts designed specifically for the rural and urban landscape:

boundaries - railings - fences - steps - seats - pavilions - letter boxes - telephone boxes - containers for plants and rubbish - stones - flags - bumps and holes.

Boundaries and holes may sometimes feature in Roger Polley and ]ohn Woodman's collaborative landscape interpretations but as visual chroniclers they are drawn not to secular artefacts but more towards a search for the sacred, to be unearthed deep in the landscapes of England. The first landscape project the artists worked on together was in Portholme Meadow in Huntingdon in 1979 where a coloured line structure was photographed in different positions in autumn, winter, spring and summer. Their photographic works made on the beach at Lyme Regis in Dorset in 1981 aligned predetermined and controlled elements with the unpredictable forces of the sea.

A final construction is a kind of photographic time grid, a montage of multiples that are placed in series, where parts visually act and react with each other within the form of a whole. The visual appearance of each part being a result of a combination of designed, organic and chance elements.

A quiet and eloquent programme of collaborative work by the artists has focused on the coastline of Dorset, the rivers of the Stour, Exe and Lym, Tyneham village, the township of Saltburn, the City of Lincoln and within the Fossil Forest.
Polley and Woodman refer to themselves as photographic artists creating what has been described as 'poetry of the earth' and 'photographic sketches'.

Roger Polley, John Woodman 2003