The Generous Landscape: Ten Years of Jupiter Artland with Allan Pollok-Morris
Christian Boltanski, Animitas, 2016. Photo © Allan Pollok-Morris
Jupiter Artland Foundation, one of the worlds most recognised outdoor sculpture parks, has published The Generous Landscape: Ten Years of Jupiter Artland to mark their 10th anniversary. The book tracks the unique history of the foundation and is illustrated with over 150 beautiful photographs of the artworks and exhibitions, including newly commissioned photography to celebrate this unique landscape.
Photographer Allan Pollok-Morris has been photographing Jupiter Artland for the past 10 years. We caught up with him to find out what it's been like to photograph such a unique space.
What have you learned from shooting Jupiter Artland for 10 years?
Jupiter Artland is the unique kind of place that reinforces the idea that the most important tool in the photographer’s bag is an open mind, it’s always good to test personal rules and challenge your methods.
This is particularly true when photographing other people’s art, the style has to be quite ‘straight’, it’s all in the moment, subject and light, just surface aesthetics, being true to the subject, but avoiding being led by your own understanding of concepts behind the artworks and landscaping.
Laura Ford, Weeping Girls, 2009. Photo © Allan Pollok-Morris
I focus on communicating my experience of the place, but the credit for the inspiration in the photograph has to go to the subject and light. I tend to work with clear sunrises and sunsets to help my chances, but the particularly special, unexpected moments at Jupiter Artland came on the edge of changes in weather when it went from good to bad or vice versa so I’d work hard there to create the window for those chance moments in light and weather. It made for very long days, but it didn’t disappoint.
Often, my images are for private clients, rather than for public consumption, However, Jupiter Artland is open to the public between May and September, and I knew my images would not only be used in the publication (The Generous Landscape: Ten Years of Jupiter Artland), but also as promotion images for the park. That meant the photos I took had to work well for a wide variety of potential print and screen mediums, I’ve even seen my photographs from Jupiter Artland cruising past me full size on the side of an Edinburgh City double decker bus!
Antony Gormley, Firmament, 2008. Photo © Allan Pollok-Morris
What makes Jupiter Artland so special as a place to visit and why it is so compelling to photograph?
While Jupiter Artland is a globally significant collection of art, the atmosphere and tone of the place is still very liberated and down to earth. I love that it was originally conceived by Nicky and Robert Wilson as a very personal collection of artworks sited in natural, hidden corners of a lowland Scottish estate and while it has grown from there over the last decade, it still feels as personal as it did in those early days.
Every time I visit Jupiter to photograph it, there is always something new to give extra inspiration. It is always changing and challenging expectations, so I love to return and see what that will mean for my photography.
I also can’t stress enough how much pleasure I also get from working with the wider location at Jupiter Artland - the borrowed views as they change through the seasons, Kirknewton on the hill and the edge of the Borders, the Forth Bridges and the view to the West of Edinburgh.
Andy Goldsworthy, Stone Coppice, 2009. Photo © Allan Pollok-Morris
What have been some of your favourite works to photograph there?
I have had the great privilege of photographing works by a number of the artists at Jupiter Artland in other corners of the world, like Ian Hamilton Finlay, Andy Goldsworthy and Charles Jencks, so I have a fond history with their work. It is such a pleasure to be able to visit the very strong, permanent works by these artists at Jupiter Artland.
Charles Jencks, Cells of Life, 2005. Photo © Allan Pollok-Morris
What are the benefits of working with the Phase One medium format digital cameras?
The photography at Jupiter Artland over the last 10 years was captured on the latest versions of Phase 1 camera system to give the highest quality original behind the photograph. I should note I’m not tied to a camera maker and would have used any camera system if it were better, but they have been streets ahead all the way.
Even in the internet age there are practical reasons for having the largest format, highest definition original files with no limits to the resolution or scale of media they can be used for.
Organisations like the Jupiter Artland Foundation take a long-term view and by using Phase 1 original files over the years they are making a cohesive photographic archive that will work well in the future.
Marc Quinn, Love Bomb, 2006. Photo © Allan Pollok-Morris
When drawing on photographs from the last 10 years to make the book The Generous Landscape: Ten Years of Jupiter Artland it is wonderful to see how well the photographs work together even though they were made on four different evolutions of the Phase 1 camera system. The very first one I used there, the P45+, is dwarfed by the performance of the latest Phase 1 models, but the quality of the original files it made 12 years ago are higher quality than anything offered on the DSLR market today.
Its incredible how relatively inexpensive those old backs are now on the 2nd hand market and as long as you don’t need a fast working camera for wildlife, I’d really recommend one to anyone working with landscape and wanting to access the medium format platform in an affordable way.
The Generous Landscape: Ten Years of Jupiter Artland is available in both softback (£35) and hardback (£45) and can be purchased on the Jupiter Artland website.