John Davies (b.1949) is a British photographer praised for his continued depiction of the British landscape. Examining the ways in which the post-industrial climate has affected the landscape and its inhabitants, Davies writes that he 'does not attempt to simplify the complex evolution of a post-industrial and post-imperialist society but explore our relationship to the multi-faceted layers of our urbanised landscape. I document an economy that is now divorced from geography and the evident social consequences of this'.
Born in Sedgefield, County Durham, Davies studied photography at Trent Polytechnic in Nottingham. Often described as 'cooly detached', his majestic black and white views of the urban landscape capture the physical remnants of an industrial era and are imbued with the feelings of a population who have been forced to make their lives amidst the decline.
In 1987, Davies published 'A Green and Pleasant Land', which focused on the coal mining, textile, steel, quarrying, railway, and whipping industries across Northern England and South Wales, a body of work that was also exhibited at The Photographers' Gallery in London. He then went on to photograph numerous urbanisation commissions across Europe, which was exhibited and published as 'Cross Currents' in 1992. In 2008, Davies was nominated for the Deutsche Borse Photography Prize for his exhibition ' The British Landscape 1979 - 2006' at the National Media Museum, Bradford, held in 2007.
A fundamental aspect of my approach to landscape is the sense of power it can symbolise and evoke. Images of land, water and sky can become metaphors, which reflect our emotional and spiritual states. But the landscape can also represent power in terms of land ownership and material wealth. It is this dual and often ambiguous representation of the metaphysical and the material in the landscape that underlies my photographic work. I believe in the beauty of truth rather than the truth of beauty even though the meaning of visual truth can be challenging and often fluid. My work attempts to raise questions about our collective responsibility in shaping the environments in which we live. -John Davies.
British Photography / The Hyman Collection