The Ingleby Gallery
Until 29th November
It is a quote by David Bellingham that introduces Thomas Joshua Cooper’s new collection Scattered Waters – Sources Streams Rivers: “The course of the river is not straight but straightforward.” In this series of images depicting Scotland’s waterways, Cooper pays homage to the “lifeline” of Scotland, adding a familiar and personal touch.
There is a great sense of intimacy within Cooper’s work. Having lived in Scotland for the past thirty-two years, the rivers and landscapes he displays are ones he has “lived near, played by and travelled along”. The collection is one that has been many years in the making, with some of the images first shot around thirty years ago. In this time, Cooper hasn’t changed his way of taking pictures. Taken on an antiquated camera and produced from a single negative, the photos embody the natural and simplistic Scottish landscape Cooper explores.
What Cooper expertly captures within his images is the vitality that Scotland’s scattered waters possess. Many of the images are close-ups, focusing on the way the water weaves around the landscape. The movement conveyed in the images beguiles the viewer, enveloping them in the moment. The monochrome effect does not detract from the work, it only enhances the beauty, adding depth and mystery. It is through the use of natural light that Cooper is able to add to the dynamism of the images. The texture produced in the photos, particularly in ‘Diamond Rock’, is sublime, particularly when focus is put in attention to detail of the rocks within the water.
While this is a commercial exhibition, the collection as a whole feels complete. With many of the pictures named after the time of day in which the picture was taken, together as a sequence some images can be seen to document how the flow of the rivers can change over time. All in all, Cooper’s new work presents to us Scotland’s waters in their purest and most sincere form, and it is simply stunning.