In terms of the shape, size, twists, curves, crevices and transformations of the British landscape, it is perhaps not the physical that one first turns to in today’s climate (or in fact any), but the political. The political landscape of 2017 is a seemingly interminable spine of craggy mountains and ravines that drop right down to the 1970s. It is with some comfort, then, and a reminder of the beauty of the island that is the UK, that the ‘Our Restless Earth’ photography competition is a focus on the physical geography, and landscape, of Britain.
The Geological Society decided on three victors for their competition, three entries that speak directly to the ideas we have of the land we call united. Kevin Privett came in third place with his entry, ‘Limestone weathering, Gower’, a shot taken at the Gower Peninsula. It is an image of the aesthetically extreme of British geography, made up almost exclusively of the crags and falls that contribute to what Privett calls ‘the little details’. ‘When you start looking closer, you start seeing the textures, the faults and the erosion […] Anyone can see them but I like to think I understand them as well and that gives me more satisfaction because I know what’s going on.’ Privett is a retired geologist.
Emma Smith took second prize with her ‘Clifftop bowling overlooking Loch Maree’, which is an exercise in perspective, and one that works excellently. Taking a page out of the handbook of Romantic tropes, Smith juxtaposes the endless clouds and weight of the background against a rock that appears tiny in comparison. Perched as it is, and joined as it is with its scenery, Smith manages to draw the eye from the magnitude and to the small.
Perhaps deservedly first place is the tourism-ad-perfect shot, ‘Three sisters of Glencoe in Autumn’, by Milena Farajewicz, is a stunning shot of the stereotypical. A road into a horizon, spectacular natural scenery. Farajewicz has captured what must be the closest of British equivalents of America’s Route 66 and the fantasies that conjures. Even the clouds have worked to adhere to the rules of the road, keeping the skies clear above the tarmac. It is a photograph that you will have seen elsewhere, yes, but not so impressively.
The ‘Our Restless Earth’ competition was announced during Earth Week and, at this point in our history, as it continues to be made, though its ribbon has faded with pollution now and the edges are stained with oil, it can never be a bad thing to pay attention to the landscapes that we are continually altering.
Featured Photo Credit: Emma Smith