Trinity

“I see this as an anti-camera, one that does not strive for resolution and clarity … but instead seeks to capture the essence of place whilst also providing sanctuary for the artist.”

In Trinity, Oliver Raymond-Barker‘s camera obscura images combine with commissioned texts, offering complex, interconnected narratives of land and histories of spirituality, protest, control.


Martin Barnes: ‘Raymond-Barker’s photographs function as the opposite of photographic journalism for he knows that conventional visual description does not allow for the evocative and lingering impact he seeks. His subject is the atmosphere of the place, its spiritual history across time, and an uneasy combination of awe in nature with the nascent threat of an unfathomable destructive force’. 

Nick Hunt: ‘He wanders enraptured, ruptured. The sunlight breaks upon him. On the shore he falls to his knees with the immensity and stares upon the awesome light that floods the shadows of the world. The god of love is everywhere. It is all a marvel. He closes his dazzled eyes and the world appears in negative, the black sky and the white trees, the incandescent veins of leaves, the bleached water opening to some great revelation’.

Oliver Raymond-Barker is an artist using photography in its broadest sense – analogue and digital process, natural materials and camera-less methods of image-making – to explore our relationship to nature.

 

Trinity is a journey into landscape. It explores the complex layers of narrative embedded in the fabric of the land and engages with histories of spirituality, protest and control.

I made the work during residencies at Cove Park Arts on the Rosneath Peninsula in Scotland. The images originate from 20 x 24-inch paper negatives, exposed in a custom-built ‘backpack’ camera obscura — a tent-like structure designed to allow creation of large format images in remote locations. I see this as an anti-camera, one that does not strive for the resolution and clarity of traditional photo-mechanical devices but instead seeks to capture the essence of place whilst also providing sanctuary for the artist.

From early Christian pilgrims who voyaged to remote corners of the British Isles such as Rosneath during Roman times, to its current occupation as home of the UK’s nuclear deterrent Trident, this remote peninsula has been the site of diverse histories.

Amongst these is the story of St. Modan, the son of an Irish chieftain who in the 6th century renounced his position as an abbot to live as a hermit. He journeyed to this remote peninsula in search of sanctuary and sought to use the elemental power of nature as a means of gaining spiritual enlightenment.

Today, however, the peninsula is dominated by the presence of military bases HMNB Faslane and RNAD Coulport, the home of the UK’s nuclear deterrent Trident. Existing alongside these sprawling sites are the small, temporary constructions of itinerant activists protesting against the military presence — locations such as the Peace Wood bear traces of their occupation.

The project weaves together these disparate yet interconnected threads, to form an immersive body of work, made on the boundaries of the photographic medium.

From Trident by Oliver Raymond Barker

I walk through the darkness. The heavy straps of the pack bite into my shoulders, fine rain enveloping me as my head torch illuminates a tunnel through the gloom. Miles pass this way.

In the half light I weave an uneven path down to the shoreline. The slow process of unpacking and setting up is akin to a conversation with an old friend. As my body goes through the motions of pitching the camera the light is rising and the tide approaching.

I crawl into the dark void of the structure, leaving my damp boots and previous self behind. My senses become attuned to the new darkness. I reach up and pull back the crude shutter: the structure is flooded with light and the image begins to resolve itself.

All energy expended, my whole process, pivots around these precious seconds when light fuses time onto the latent canvas before me.

I stretch up and close the shutter, stowing the paper away in the now resounding darkness. Unnoticed in my reverie, the water has begun to lap at the edges of the tent. I swiftly pack up, my body and mind already occupying a new space, treading a path towards the next moment…’


Trinity (Loose Joints Publishing, 2021) is available for pre-order now, and will be published in December 2021 in a handmade edition of 200 copies: 68pp, 250 × 350 mm, with 35 photos and texts by Martin Barnes and Nick Hunt. Printed hardcover with black boards, comprising two stitched booklets with images and texts on six different papers.

You can read Beneath What Is Visible, A Vast Shadow, Oliver’s ClimateCultures post about the creation of Trinity, with extracts from the texts and some of his images.

Haumea Online 7-week Essential Ecoliteracy for Creatives & Art Professionals

“This is a comprehensive introductory course, as ecoliteracy is a big topic. It means becoming familiar with ecological philosophy, ethics, law, psychology, science and economics that an ecological worldview advances and I share examples of creatives pioneering this path.”

Cathy Fitzgerald‘s online learning offers a means to rapidly bring ecological literacy to the creative sector.


“Just as in her own art, where she is growing a forest, in her teaching she draws together the disparate roots, branches, leaves, seeds and flowers, leaving a healthy forest to flourish for itself. I am very grateful. ”
Shane Finan — a visual artist in Wicklow, Ireland — took part in Cathy Fitzgerald’s Haumea Online Essential Ecoliteracy course for Creatives and Art Professionals in 2020.

Cathy Fitzgerald is an artist and researcher exploring ecosocial wellbeing by bringing art and non-art practices together in creative practice and offering Ecoliteracy learning for the arts.

My background in research science, art professional development and doctoral-level knowledge of ecological art practice means for several decades I have been keenly aware of the vast cultural dilemma we face. In 2016, when submitting my Creative Practice-led doctoral thesis —The Ecological Turn: Living Well with Forests… — I realised that economically challenged art education institutes would have little ability to pivot towards training their staff, reorientating their curricula to encompass ecoliteracy. Having an MA in new media, and experience of fostering online professional development for creative communities, I briefly speculated that online learning might offer a means to rapidly bring this knowledge to the creative sector.

This idea never left me. In 2019, with support from the Irish Carlow Local Enterprise Office and Carlow Arts office, I was able to get some fantastic international mentoring on best practice in online course development and delivery, and online business strategy. The only thing was, I had never taught before!

Nevertheless, with my mentors’ encouragement, I began by surveying established creative practitioners for their needs in this area and this formed the topic areas that I developed into seven weekly modules. This is a comprehensive introductory course, as ecoliteracy is a big topic. It means becoming familiar with ecological philosophy, ethics, law, psychology, science and economics that an ecological worldview advances and I share examples of creatives’ work who are pioneering this path.

Survey responses from the creative sector when I researched the course, also indicated that many in the sector wanted psychosocial supports to address the overwhelm that awareness of the ecological emergency brings. From my experience, I knew this is crucial to safeguard against depression and burnout.

By some odd coincidence, after trialling the modules in a live workshop, I found myself launching my pilot in early 2020 just as Ireland’s first pandemic lockdown began. Somehow, the Haumea Online Ecoliteracy course and our weekly live zoom meetings thrived. Also, I am very grateful that my friend, mentor and educator in California, ecological philosopher Dr Nikos Patedakis, co-hosts the weekly meetings with me and shares his deep knowledge of the world’s wisdom traditions and recent research of psychosocial supports.

During 2020, we have hosted five courses, and from the start, we have welcomed participants from Ireland, the UK, the US, Europe, Scandinavia and China.

For 2021, we are excited to be offering the Haumea Online 7-week Essential Ecoliteracy for Creatives and Art Professionals again — 5th January to 23rd February — whilst trying to consolidate and grow our ecoliteracy offerings further (no easy thing in this economic climate). As we are committed to a supportive online learning experience, our class size is a maximum of 20 participants. We are looking to build a larger audience around the course material, perhaps through a possible podcast series, and members network, friends of Haumea supporters scheme, and we are open to exploring collaboration with other education providers.

Best of all, sharing my knowledge has brought me joy in a challenging year, and increased my motivation for my ongoing ecosocial art practice and research. From the solitary years of doing a PhD in a rural area, I now have the coolest new friends from across the world who share a vision that creatives have a vital role to inspire a better world.


Haumea Online 7-week Essential Ecoliteracy

You can find out more about Cathy Fitzgerald’s Haumea Online Ecoliteracy course and advisory ecoliteracy policy consultancy at Haumea. See what others are saying about the course here.

You can also download Cathy’s thesis The Ecological Turn: Living Well with Forests… (National College of Art and Design, Dublin, Ireland, 2018), and explore the workk of ecophilosopher Dr Nikos Patedakis at Wisdom Love and Beauty.