Exotic Britain

Exhibited as a hand bound photo-book, along with framed prints of selected photographs. Winter 2017, Vallum Gallery, Carlisle, Cumbria


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Exotic isn’t usually the first word that pops to mind when we think of Britain’s nature. When we think exotic, we think foreign, inaccessible, exciting. We think extreme climates, dense habitats and bright colours. Exotic refers to the unusual and out of the ordinary. It’s the lions that once crowded caves in Yorkshire, the wolves that roamed Scottish plains, the rhinos that flocked in Trafalgar Square. It’s the creatures that fill our zoos today, the colours and patterns that stock our pet shops and the statues that tower over us in museums. We fascinate ourselves with what we have lost and what we can’t reach, leaving what we have left as forgotten. Whether they arrived through man’s intervention, off their own accord, or have been here longer than our ancestors, they become normal. The colours fade and the excitement wears thin.

I grew up in the city, never truly understanding the exotics of what existed right on my doorstep. While nature holds a great presence over our everyday, it was presented to me as alien and amazing, enclosed into places to visit. The knowledge of the exotic history of our land was filed away with dinosaurs and the creation of the earth – all evidently true but forgotten history to our everyday lives. Today, stories of rumoured panthers patrolling Hertfordshire regularly pop up on our news feeds and campaigns to re-introduce wolves and lynx make their way into our headlines. They stir conversation and speculation over the truth, excitement and fear. Whichever side of the fence you are on, what is it about these stories, places and animals that are more ‘exotic’ to us, catching our attention more, than the existing wildlife that we share our spaces with? I had decided that, to find anything close to an answer, I would spend a day outside in one of London’s many parks. I began my search for the exotic.

This excerpt is taken from the essay and photo series “Exotic Britain”. If you wold like to see more or showcase this piece of work, please get in touch.

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