An exploration of the relationship between the contemporary English landscape, autobiography and the pastoral provides the focus for photographer and writer Jesse Alexander‘s residency at Bank Street Arts.

One of the outcomes of Jesse’s residency will be Elementary Husbandry, an exhibition throughout July 2016 that critically examines the landscape of his rural North Somerset locality. Coinciding with this will be New Pastoral Paradigms: Explorations in Landscape and the Self, a symposium featuring artists and writers whose practice examines place and its myriad forms of representation.

An additional strand of Jesse’s residency will see him send one photograph per week to be installed at Bank Street over the course of a year. Beginning in Spring, the series – The Nymph and The Shepherd will chronicle the transitions of Jesse’s rural Somerset surroundings 160 miles south of Sheffield. This will be examined through a realist documentary aesthetic, inspired by critiques of both visual and literary representations of the pastoral countryside. The work, as Jesse notes,

is a parallel to Christopher Marlowe’s poem The Passionate Shepherd to His Love, in which a naive shepherd attempts to persuade his sweetheart to abandon an urban life for his simpler rural existence, and the sardonic voice in Sir Walter Raleigh’s The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd. The long distance dialogue throughout the residency, made possible through the geographic space between my place of practice and BSA, will form a contemporary interpretation of the amorous romance that is embedded within countless pastoral tales and narratives – the love letter and poem supplemented for the image.

Jesse is the Programme Leader of BA (Hons) Photography at the Open College of the Arts and author of the book Perspectives on Place: Theory and Practice in Landscape Photography.

Jesse Alexander