Stuart Bailes

Stuart Bailes

Work from [I couldn’t find a title for this body of work but I want to see more, and I hope it is coming soon] and Hidden (Forest).

“Hidden (Forest) was undertaken predominantly in Wales but some were made in the Forest of Dean and the New Forest. The geographical location was not critical, more important was the discovery of elements within the forest that would allow certain personal connections to emerge. Identifying sympathetic spaces proved to be incredibly difficult as the forest had to be at a certain point within its natural cycle to accommodate a sense of Bailes was looking for – however enigmatic and illusive. The preoccupation with the regenerative process of woodland flora is evident, a form of allegory to which Romanticism attached a sense of ones mortality. 

Working in the dark is literally and metaphorically akin to existing in another realm, it heightens the senses, instils a sense of urgency, vulnerability, as the primacy of vision is diminished until the photographic event seeks to restore it. It is an adventure within a world that is generically known and in the depths of darkness becomes profoundly unfamiliar. Small pools of illumination through the use of flash reveal details of the forest floor; the flash of light brings with a perceptual shock that is literally the means to unlock the fantastical elements of the forest. Bailes pictures offer a theatrical space rich in narrative possibilities, a journey through darkness to a moment of illumination that suspends the forest interior in a liminal state of recognition and disbelief. 

It was Roland Barthes in Camera Lucida who coined the term ‘punctum’ to define his often unfathomable and anxious preoccupation with certain details in photographs that triggered unexpected trains of thought. Bailes has identified an aspect of landscape that is bound up with the ‘punctum’ of place similarly rooted in memory and which, through the photographic act, moves a little closer to the possibility of knowing.” – Stuart Bailes

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