Throughout 2020 and 2021, whilst largely confined to her home county of East Sussex due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Emily Allchurch took photographs on her daily walks in the local countryside through the changing seasons. This has inspired a new collection of landscapes, ‘Closer to Home’, not only in celebration of the natural world, but also as a reminder of its precarious fragility.
The works explore themes of landscape management and control, the threat from development, coastal erosion, invasive plant species and detritus, and how we interact with the landscape through tourism and recreation.
In her trademark referencing to Old Master prints and paintings, she has adopted the ‘Oban’ portrait format and near/far composition techniques used by Utagawa Hiroshige in his series ‘One Hundred Famous Views of Edo’ (1856-58), a love letter to his home city of Tokyo. However, in a departure from recent work, the compositions are her own, with the twelve resulting images forming a portrait of the East Sussex landscape throughout a calendar year.
Whilst some scenes capture more obviously aesthetic vistas, like the South Downs, others find beauty in the everyday, such as blossom flowering on an urban estate, and the unfurling of new weeds in spring. Both the cherry blossom and Japanese knotweed in these works offer lighthearted references to their Japanese inspirational origins.
Allchurch follows in the footsteps of a rich tradition of artists drawn to the beauty of the Sussex coast. A couple of the works reference specific paintings, namely her composition for May, which captures the same view of Fairlight immortalised in William Holman Hunt’s 1852 painting ‘Our English Coasts (‘Strayed Sheep’)’ which is in the Tate Collection, and her view of Beachy Head for August, which echoes that painted by Eric Ravillious, some 80 years ago.
Each work in the series is available in a number of formats:
Edition of 10 + 2 APs irrespective of format, available as:
Transparency on LED Lightbox. Outer frame dimensions: 108 x 73.8 cm
C-type print: Image size: 80 x 52.6 cm; Framed size: 102.2 x 74.8 cm
Edition of 15 + 2 APs, available as:
Archival pigment print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag paper: Image size: 45 x 29.6 cm; Paper size: 65 x 49.6 cm
Collector’s Edition (of 10): A Collector’s Box Set of all 12 images – Archival pigment prints on Hahnemühle Photo Rag paper: Image size: 45 x 29.6 cm; Paper size: 60 x 44.6 cm each
Emily Allchurch – ‘Closer to Home’ – Presentation Document – 21Mb.pdf >
‘Closer to Home’ – Exhibition at Lucy Bell Gallery – Feb > Mar 2023 – Installation images >
Video: BBC South East News feature on ‘Closer To Home’ – Feb 2023 – 2m 28s >