Australian photographer Tamara Dean has long explored the fragile relationship between human beings and nature, something which has become increasing antagonistic as the 21st Century unfolds. Indeed, statistics on the health of the ocean and the extinction of species are at near apocalyptic levels.
The global pandemic has only served to ratchet up the contentiousness, as humanity does daily battle with an insidious, but naturally occurring virus, that has already taken nearly half a million lives. So the timing of a new UK exhibition of Dean’s work could not be more poignant. For the latest in its Artist Spotlight series, the venerable Informality Gallery in Henley-on-Thames has assembled some of her most striking recent works, those which depict enigmatic human immersion in natural settings, which somehow appear both serene and slightly ominous—while seeming to meditate on the condition of isolation.
There is also a palpable mystical/spiritual element to each; and collectively, they singularly capture the current emotional and environmental zeitgeist.
Dean offers the ethereal explication, “Once I enter the forest, I shift into another place inside myself. The smell of the Earth and leaves, the sounds, the textures, and the play of light through the foliage, all come together to create an elevated sense of reality for me. It makes me feel more active and more capable of being in the moment. I drift into what I could only describe as something akin to a daydream. I am mesmerised by the micro and the macro. My senses are heightened. For me, this is the closest to what I would consider a spiritual experience.”
Also a sign of the times, the show will be part physical, part digital, with British galleries having cautiously undertaken re-opening. But as we’re not likely to be hopping a plane to London any time very soon, it makes perfect sense.
Artist Spotlight: Tamara Dean will be on show at Informality Gallery through July 23.