Thank you, Gina.
I had a wonderful chat with Gina Glover about her work and her thoughts on what she feels makes people tick when it comes to environmental photography.
I have spoken about Gina’s work in a previous post; how it has a timeless appeal and how I felt it reflected some of my own ways of seeing.
Having graciously spent some time out of her busy schedule (two exhibitions afoot and her daughter’s wedding coming up), our conversation has certainly helped me to think about how people may see my work, and where I can perhaps inject some new ideas.
I initially emailed Gina with the following questions:
Do you think people are more switched on or off by graphic images of environmental issues; and do you think non-documentary pictures can instigate action?
How do we balance our own photographic footprint when making work about environmental concerns?
Gina’s own environment-related work is primarily documentary in content i.e. there’s something recognisable in the image, but it has a wonderful sense of anticipation, particularly, for me, her series My Anthropocene (see Fig. 1).
I feel there is a synergy between the ideas that have shaped some of our individual work. For example, her series Poisoned Water Runs Deep (see Fig. 2) highlights the issues with fracking (which relates to Harena Now as much sand needs to be used in this process of extraction).
I also started a discarded litter series in 2017 where I photographed and re-photographed each week the hedgerow rubbish in one short lane in my village, while Gina’s The Entangled Bank (see Fig. 3) portrays “plastic bottles tossed from cars onto grass verges near my home” (Glover, 2013).
Gina has covered other environmental topics such as her investigation with her husband and daughter into more sustainable sources of energy through the images in Earth, Wind, Water that were part of her Metabolic Landscape series, which became a book; Deep Time which considers climate change through glaciers; Melted World which looks at Greenland’s ice sheet and how sea levels will rises drastically if the rate at which they melt accelerates; and Park which queries the human-made “ecological Disneyland” (Geof Rayner, 2016).
I am truly intrigued by Gina’s work. But talking about how, as a photographer that wants to raise awareness of environmental issues you can balance your own impact, Gina said it was very much in the context the work is made and shown.
She has to travel and fly to make much of her work relating to the environment, but by doing so she is able to bring these problems to the minds of people who may know nothing of the topic or may be able to do something about it.
Gina said: “It about bringing the work to where debate is happening”.
She spoke about how her work can help people to think about the problem in a new way, and that she aims to show her work at relevant conferences and venues that will enable fuller discussion.
One of the main points I picked up on was Gina’s explanation that it is her love of problem solving that often influences what she works on. She said it is about looking at what the subject is and how she thinks about it and then determining how to create a photographic output.
We also spoke about how working in a darkroom or using the cyanotype process is a means of slowing down and how the process becomes part of the work, the image. And thinking about how non-documentary images that carry environmental messages can still provoke a response, Gina suggested that differing forms of image-making can be seen as art; it isn’t the norm and therefore people have a different way of looking at the work. The processes themselves are intriguing, they become part of the image and people can have a new emotional response to what they see.
Gina feels that using a process that helps slow her down allows for meditation and an element of chance, accidents. It’s a different zone of making.
Having been one of the founders of Photofusion, she said that now the courses they run in the darkroom and about alternative processes are always busy.
It was interesting to hear her say that back in the 70s when she began Photofusion that alternative photography was incredibly popular in eastern Europe and that often culture and direct environment can influence the processes used. It can sometimes be down to what’s available. Maybe that’s part of my own love for historic processes, a desire to take things slower and a knee-jerk to the faster paced world of image-sharing.
I’m now keen though to see her next exhibition to be held at Murray Edwards College, Cambridge. Although not related to the environment, the show Reproductivities relates to her ongoing commissioned Life In Glass project that looks at in vitro fertilisation. Having been a medical photographer, twice, this is another fascinating side to Gina’s work. Oh, and she is using cyanotypes.
Figure 1. GLOVER, Gina. My Anthropocene. ginaglover.com [online]. Available at: http://www.ginaglover.com/ [accessed May 30, 2018].
Figure 2. GLOVER, Gina. Poisoned Water Runs Deep. ginaglover.com [online]. Available at: http://www.ginaglover.com/ [accessed May 30, 2018].
Figure 3. GLOVER, Gina. The Entangled Bank. ginaglover.com [online]. Available at: http://www.ginaglover.com/ [accessed May 30, 2018].
GLOVER, Gina. ginaglover.com [online]. Available at: http://www.ginaglover.com/ [accessed May 30, 2018].
Telephone interview and notes with Gina Glover, May 29, 2018.