Listening Voices

Having started to take underwater photographs suitable for the marine biology talks to a conservation group he had joined, he began to ask himself – if these were scientific images, what were his own images from a more subjective perspective, and where did the underwater experience play a role in his own artwork?

Examining a group of photographs taken when diving off the Isle of Man he found an image that immediately seemed meaningful to him, though at first he was unclear why. It was months later after gathering together a group of such images that he began to understand how they spoke to him of not just the links to geological time he had made through diving, but also through tidal motion to astronomical bodies, and through diving physiology to the vulnerability of the human body.

These images were to be the basis of his group of works that came to be titled Listening Voices. It was important to him that the ambiguous qualities of these images be enhanced in order to break free from their being perceived purely as images from marine creatures. There was a darker and more universal element to these diving experiences, and it was in the middle verse of Dylan Thomas’ Lie still, sleep becalmed that he started to find that meaning. There was still a gap between the verse and the experience, that he bridged by deconstructing the verse and reconstructing it as pairs of words. The images were mounted on the front of green tinted glass to avoid an aquarium view of them, and the text was revealed in the surrounding glass by sandblasting the areas around the text. The use of glass as a fused form of sand was a significant choice, and suspending the works a few inches away from the gallery wall meant that the text was projected onto the wall behind as a parody of fossils embedded in the wall. The role of the text was not a description or title to the images, but rather a counterpoint, both image and text each existing in their own right.


Gordon Fletcher