Dan Mariner | Drake's Folly


Hydrocarbons. Arguably our planets most valuable commodity, produced by millions of years worth of organic matter fermenting under a combination of extreme heat and pressure deep beneath the surface of the earth. The result a thick black liquid, known today as crude oil.

In the early 1800’s, in Northern Pennsylvania after the emergence of stories of this black liquid seeping from the ground, the then fledgling Seneca Oil Company sent Colonel Edwin Drake to the area in search of this elusive substance. Drake, a retired railroad worker from New York, selected only because he had a free rail pass was tasked with pioneering a reliable method of extracting this liquid in the hope it could be used for lighting homes. Drake accepted the task and set about finding a solution as quickly as possible. But of course, it was never going t be that easy.

Obstacle after obstacle thwarted Drake’s attempts, from collapsed drilling wells, impenetrable bedrock and abandonment by the very company who sent him on the search in the first place. After painfully slow and seemingly unproductive progress was being made, many of the areas residents would gather to mock and jeer the site of operation, dubbing it “Drake’s Folly” but after much ridicule, on the 27th of August 1859 in Titusville, Pennsylvania and at a depth of 69.5 feet, Drake’s drill made its first full extraction from deep under the bedrock. Unbeknown to him, Drake’s drilling method would not only establish the modern petroleum industry but enable America and the rest of the world to kick-start an industrial revolution never seen before and radically transform the evolution of human civilisation.

As news quickly spread of this lucrative new market, Titusville experienced a boom as has only been seen during the early gold rush in the west. In the space of a few years, the population swelled from a few hundred to over 8,000 people. Scores of entrepreneurs swarmed into Titusville and almost over night, townships were named. Oil City, Franklin and Pithole sprang up, teeming with prospectors hoping to make their fortune. At its peak, the Pennsylvanian oil industry supplied well over half of the world’s oil supply before the discovery of vast oil reserves in Texas and the world over.

Today it is particularly striking that the valleys and forests, once stripped bare and exploited by the industry, have now been reclaimed by nature. The area is now teeming with wildlife. Flora and fauna are slowly erasing the remnants of pipelines, rusted machinery and abandoned wells. This is a true testament to the incredible regenerative power of nature and its ability to heal itself over time. Today, retracing the steps of the early oil industry, it is hard to imagine the massive feat of human endeavour that took place over 150 years ago.

Dan is a British photographer based in Northern Norway. He studied documentary photography at the Magnum affiliated Newport University in South Wales. His main photographic interest lies in anthropology. Within that, he seeks out themes that explore how humans interact with their surroundings and how modern infrastructure and ideology coexists with the natural world.


Amy Spires | Left Behind


"Over the years I started to notice a pattern in my work that I didn’t even realise I was creating. It became obvious that I had a love for structures, especially ones that had been left to decay. I decided to run with this natural progression and start the series ‘Left Behind’. Places that were once filled with light and life are left to be taken over by nature, vandalised or to simply rot. 

There’s something in this neglect that I find I’m magnetised to and urged to document, just incase one day these buildings are knocked down and lost for good". 


Tommy Sussex | What Takes Hold


Opening on the eve of the 2015 General Election, ‘What Takes Hold’ looks beyond party politics to explore alternative formal and informal systems of power. It investigates what happens below the surface and just around the corner in places and communities that are generally considered not at “the centre of things”- geographically, socially or economically.

What photographer Tommy Sussex quietly hints at, and invites us to discover for ourselves, are patterns of exchange, micro-hubs of activity, anticipation of actions and purposeful movement around a both urban and (almost) rural landscape. From the matriarchal organizing power of the bingo hall, to the community spirit embodied in collective endeavor at the local Slimming World, the images reveal a community moving, living and negotiating its own terms of engagement. 

The photographs were taken in Knowle West, a neighbourhood of around 12,000 residents on the Southern edge of Bristol, which was created in the 1930s following slum clearance in the city centre. The workers who built this pioneering new community had a nickname for the estate- “5000 island forest”, referring to the fact they were building 5000 homes surrounded by forest. Sitting on a hill, Knowle West retains a sense of separation from the city today, but that pioneering spirit continues with strong familial and social networks built up over the years that offers its community a strong sense of identity, and often practical solutions and everyday support.

Some of these photographs might suggest absence but perhaps an alternative reading would be that they capture the moments just after a period of intense social activity or conversation. 


Nicholas JR White | Black Dots


Black Dots is an exploration of mountain bothies and bothy culture throughout the United Kingdom. Far from civilisation and mostly accessible only by foot, bothies are secluded mountain shelters scattered across the British Isles and tirelessly maintained by volunteers from the Mountain Bothies Association. Unlocked and free to use, they provide a refuge from the vast terrain that surrounds them and have become an iconic feature of the British landscape over the past fifty years. Bothies are synonymous with the outdoor experience in the UK and from day trippers to mountaineers, the growing community of bothy-users is hugely diverse. Black Dots is the result of almost three years spent traversing our most remote landscapes in an attempt to better understand what these buildings are, where they’re located and the culture that surrounds them. Drawn not only by the primitive beauty of the bothies and the landscapes they sit within, the work also investigates the human element to the bothy story, capturing the faces of those who trek for hours to temporarily inhabit these spaces, many miles from the nearest settlements.

Black Dots is published by Another Place Press and can be purchased here



Alexander Mourant | Aomori


Aomori meaning “blue forest” in Japanese, is a synthesis of two existential ideas: the forest and the nature of blue. By combing these phenomenologically charged subjects, I create a place of high intensity, a place which exudes a life force and questions our relationship to time, colour and self.

Previously, through my photographs, I employed atmospheric conditions such as humidity, alongside tropical flora and fauna enclosed in artificial spaces, as a metaphor, for elsewhere. Through Aomori, I have expanded these territories to the ancestral forests of Japan. It is the presence of the forest and the density of its nature, which arrests for us, the relentless progression of time. It is peculiar how forests have such an affect on us. In our mind’s eye they exist continually in the past. Perhaps, it is the canopy of the trees which shelter us from gently falling light and the intoxication of time and duration. As temporal dimensions crumble, objectivity leaves us. We are found in a still, oneiric state, contemplating our own accumulation of experience.

Aomori | Solo exhibition | Thursday 1 - Sunday 4 February

Opening Night | Thursday 1 | 18:00 - 22:00 

Shop 11, The Old Truman Brewery, E1 6QR

Supported by Free Range, Metro Imaging, ArtHouse Jersey and Arts Council England.



Cameron Williamson | A Mask is Not a Mountain

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We are standing alone in the field, a sky unable to rain. She is explaining to me how the eagle on the end of her bare arm is isolated to molt in an aviary for several weeks of the year. A large camera is pressed firmly against my chest as the bird looks away indifferently, turning its head to study everything on the clear cut lawn and the farmland beyond. I recompose to place the bend of its shoulder into the centre of the frame. Adjusting to accommodate for its movements that punctuate a rhythmic refolding of wings I cannot anticipate.

Pausing to draw my focus from the viewfinder, she tells me that cloaked in isolation their characteristics change, tending away from what is learnt, their behaviour begins to regress by unbinding the line that designated their actions. 

I assume that the eagle won’t remember her, mentioning something I once read about the nature of goshawks, but I hear unconvincingly that they usually do. The bird will lose its precision in the absence of the falconer, successively marking out that territorial line around the limits of their character. Made through positive reinforcement, she emphasises, shifting her weight slowly to the opposite leg with her arm locked still. Yet given enough repetition by the falconer, the bird will learn these movements, manipulating the routine that was constructing the limit of its actions.

The bird mantled on the clasped glove is observing something past the falconer’s head. Thickets surrounding groups of tree, furrows meeting the sky. It seems to be gaining mass with my persistent questions, I can’t comprehend its weight, carrying a camera of metal and glass, feathers don’t seem to constitute matter.

Turning back up the path towards the eagle’s enclosure, with the bird now between us, she tells me that being solitary creatures they fail to understand hierarchical dominance, meaning that the conditioning of a bird relies on a huge number of variables. Still, it is said by some that by pushing against the resistance of the falcon, that the man and bird can exchange characteristics, unfolding into one another. 

As I pack the camera into a bag, the roles of recognition and misrecognition are now undefined, as these images will become a way of measuring oneself against another figure, even if the subject has turned to retreat they will never come into alignment. Perhaps this is how distance must look, outside of the clarity that the eagle sees, it is an indifferent scale, unfixed but ripe for judgement. 

In the cage I see human footprints punctuating the sand, raked into lines and beaten blunt by absent wings. So as bird and trainer step into the tapering dark of the aviary, her voice has drawn a circle, a divide between bird and me, a cascade of wing feathers tightening into her body.

Vaud, Switzerland, 2017.

Cameron Williamson is an artist working with text, image and video based in the UK and Switzerland. Recently he has been working with the role of the individual in an alpine landscape, enquiring after notions of a body shedding space through ritualistic visual practices. This forms an ongoing critical interest in the human figure as a body reliant on orientation and recognition.


Notes on features contemporary photography accompanied by creative writing. 


Harry Lawlor | Everybody is Going to Heaven


These photographs were made on the Mani Peninsula at the southern tip of the Greek mainland. It's an ancient area of which's roots can be traced back to Homer's "The Iliad". I approached making the work by letting go of any preconceived ideas that I may have about the place, allowing my subconscious mind to guide the image making process. I found this particularly liberating, each time I went out with my camera each venture became an almost meditative ritual, allowing myself to be present in my body in these new surroundings. The resulting photographs are a record of these meditations on a foreign landscape.


Bookshelf #02 | A Year of Light | James Meredew


'A Year of Light' is a series of images taken from Autumn 2016 to Autumn 2017. Shot entirely in black and white and in the U.K, the series takes a closer look at encounters with light over the year as the seasons and my locations change.

60 pages | 300gsm Silk Cover | 170gsm Silk inside pages | Edition of 100

Purchase here


Anne Müchler & Nico Schmitz | Encounter


Encounter studies how a myth develops with and through the media photography. 

How can images show or express the changeability and the fragility of myths and serve as a proof of its existence? 

Starting-point of the investigation is the village Bugarach in the south of France as well as the mountain Pic de Bugarach. 

New Age followers believed the mountain had mystical powers, spreading to the belief that the village would be spared in the 2012 apocalypse. 

In what way does the various interchanges and the interdependence of motives concerning film, photography and literature manage to have an effect on the pop-cultural construction of the myth of this village?


Saved by Thumb #03


Selected by Matt Martin | The Photocopy Club & Doomed Gallery Curator | @luckygoldteeth 

"Photographers and artists I love.  Saved images for inspiration." 

Jannike Stelling | @jannikestelling

Jannike Stelling | @jannikestelling

Ryan McGinley | @ryanmcginleystudios

Ryan McGinley | @ryanmcginleystudios

Dana Lauren Goldstein | @danalaurengoldstein

Dana Lauren Goldstein | @danalaurengoldstein

Ian Kenneth Bird | @ikbird

Ian Kenneth Bird | @ikbird

Kingsley Ifill | @kingsley_ifill

Kingsley Ifill | @kingsley_ifill

Saved by Thumb invites curators, editors and publishers to share five images saved to their personal Instagram account. 


Josh Jones | 99 Peace Walls


 99 Peace Walls is two things; a beginning of an explorative journey of Northern Ireland and a continuation of an earlier project undertaken in Birmingham, which focussed on the Irish community. After spending time in Digbeth documenting the ageing and dwindling Irish population, Josh rounded things off by producing a dummy book. He then decided to turn his attention to the inhabitants of Belfast, and balanced working at the annual Photo Festival 2017 with photographing the start of this new project.

As a foreigner to the country, Josh was provided with an opportunity to observe and witness the city's people, but also to engage as an outsider, which does not necessarily equate to being distant. He was met with an apparent social, religious and political divide among the people of East and West Belfast, but did not aim to obviously portray this within his photographs. However, the politics of the city clearly had an effect, whether subconsciously or not. The Union Jack colour scheme is sprinkled throughout the series; the tracksuit top of the girl with hooped earrings, the bunting strung across the garden and even the 'PAW Patrol' toy car parked outside the West Peace Wall.

These photographs were all taken within a two week time frame in both ends of the city. This work is ongoing. Josh hopes to revisit Belfast, explore other parts of Northern Ireland and possibly venture into the Republic of Ireland too.


Alex Ingram | David's House


St Davids is the UKs smallest city, located on the most Western point of the Pembrokeshire coast with a population of just 1841. This project explores the connection between people and place, seeking to understand the connections that the subjects have with the landscape, and their reasoning and choices for spending their lives in such a secluded part of the world. St Davids is where I was brought up, and through this personal connection with the landscape, I was able to offer a thoughtful and insightful documentation of this tightly formed community, in which I spent his childhood.

The project has evolved from my initial connection with my neighbour, Dai, and the life he has spent in St Davids and the stories he had to tell. Broadening the work to the wider community, I am in search of what connects other members of the community to the place and explores how St Davids has impacted their lives.


Scarlett O'Flaherty | Powolani przez Boga


Powolani przez Boga is a documentation of the feminine adoration of God that explores beyond a superficial perspective of women’s role in the Catholic Church, through seeking to understand what makes these women give their lives to God. The sisters display an inner contentment that many in a contemporary society would envy. This comes from the belief that they have been called by God. The calling and dedication to the church is not tangible, some would argue that the presence of God does not exist, however for the women of the Felician Franciscan Congregation it determines their path through life.


Megan Wilson-De La Mare | Flirting with Monsters


Based on her personal experiences and observations of our collective expression of femininity Flirting with Monsters considers that which exists outside established social norms and clichéd notions of the ideal female form. Megan’s creative process sets portraits of women and still life images against a backdrop of powerful Icelandic landscapes, exploring and questioning our obsession with beauty and a contrived ideal form of femininity. This project seeks to instigate a new dialogue around female subjectivities.


Grace Jackson | Whispers of the Sea


Whispers of the Sea is a series about me and my attachment to the sea but also how the sea makes me feel and how it has helped healed me, it was the first place I felt safe, it was the first place I went on my own and now it has been somewhere I always feel calm. After being sexually assaulted I contained myself in my own flat too scared to leave the comfort, too scared of the unknown. I started travelling to the coast and taking photographs and writing down all the things I could never say, as I stayed there for hours photographing, thinking and writing this is how I started to make work again, it started with a series called Shell Casing, then leading to The Fractures of our Soul and now continuing with Whispers of the Sea, since the first two series I have now been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and I have learnt the ways I can cope with the nightmares and the flashbacks, and one of these is being by the sea. All the work is shot on analogue ranging from large format to medium format. I use analogue photography because I love the control I have over it, after what happened I need to always feel in control, and although it can become obsessive, by loading, developing and printing all my own work in my own darkroom it becomes cathartic to work on the print and get the outcome I really want and showcase how I feel, but also it is a way of me putting this trauma into my work, and giving myself a voice I have never felt I have had since the attack as for 18 months I was silent and once I started talking about what happened I faced a lot of criticisms and set backs as many people didn’t believe me including the police, my family and friends, I started to doubt myself and not know if the nightmares and flashbacks were real, I started to doubt my own memory and sanity, therefore the series allows me to say what I want without having to utter the words or worry about someone else’s reaction or judgement, my photographs can speak for me. Further from this I want to generate conversation, conservation about sexual assaults and why our society shuts down and victim shames the women who have suffered enough pain, why the first words out of peoples mouths are “were you on your own”, “what were you wearing”, “was it late at night” – like any of these questions should matter, but just because we are women we have to protect ourselves instead teaching that rape is wrong. I layer both the landscapes and the nudes because to me the landscape is a body as well, it is talking about the female form alongside my safety, I choose nudes because the topics I am talking about I want bare skin I want the fragility of the female body next to the place I feel safe. By layering I am also putting my own touch on the series, it is very personal to myself and is a way to help myself heal.


Saved by Thumb #02


Selected by | Max Ferguson | Splash & Grab Editor | @maxferguson

"My choices represent the wide range of photographers we work with at Splash & Grab. These are some of our favourite photographs from people who have taken over our Instagram account".

Iacopo Pasqui | @iacopopasqui

Iacopo Pasqui | @iacopopasqui

Tori Ferenc | @toriferenc

Tori Ferenc | @toriferenc

Cian Oba-Smith | @cianobasmith

Cian Oba-Smith | @cianobasmith

Jess Farran | @j_farran

Jess Farran | @j_farran

Felix von der Osten | @fvdo

Felix von der Osten | @fvdo

Saved by Thumb invites curators, editors and publishers to share five images saved to their personal Instagram account. 


Rebecca Gray | In Between


In a society that weighs heavily on teaching young people how to work hard and get the best grades, we often overlook mental health. Resilience is a series of portraits and corresponding still life photographs of people who work with young people (11 to 25), who suffer with mental health problems. With each person, I discussed their views on current political and social attitudes towards mental health and what they believe would be a positive way for our society to improve its stance on the matter. Unanimously, they offered a solution of preventative action, providing children with a better awareness of their own and others mental health. Giving people the opportunity to be mentally resilient.


William McCleland | Out of Step


The Hardcore music scene gives a sense of belonging to many struggling to find a place in an uncertain society. Looking at a group of young men, it is possible to see those seeking direction, aligning themselves to what seems an aggressive movement, for a sense of belonging and meaning. 

The fragility of those involved is often only exposed to those on the inside, causing a dichotomy between the public perception and the private reality. 


Giulia Parlato | Isola


The concept of Isola originated from an unresolved question I have been asking myself for the past three years; about home and the impossibility of finding one. The 'photographic act' has always been a way to isolate myself and feel at home within my images. This sort of inner dislocation I reach while I photograph, brought me to the creation of a fictitious island, which almost became a symbolic dwelling.

When I started to construct a critical thought around this project, I knew it had to be about Sicily, depicted as a surreal and arcane place and strongly linked to its myths. Throughout the development of my work, this partially changed and focusing on my origins became mostly a familiar and personal way of articulating a discourse on a more broad and complex concept.

My journey of twenty-five days through the mediterranean sea, started after a rereading of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's Lighea and Homer's Odyssey, focusing particularly on Ulysses adventures across the south of Italy. When I decided to plan my own route, I was ultimately inspired by the tales my father used to tell me. All of these stories were based on Ferdinandea, which was a small Sicilian island that rose from the water in 1831 and then disappeared again underwater (to lie just below the surface) in 1832.

In winter, the Sicilian landscape shifts from being a desirable tourist destination, to a desert and silent scene.

The desolation of Sicily and the small island which surround it made me focus on their idyllic appearance. Meditating on the primitive uses of the cave, which are extremely common throughout the island group, I though of each cavern as a dwelling in its purest and simplest structure; a contained space, which is possible to enter and which recalls the ideal form of the shelter.

By exploring this territory, I was allured by the idea of enclosure in the shapes of igneous rocks and cliffs, encompassing the traveller and welcoming him to stay. The symbology of the cave, antechamber of an hidden world, is a central theme of my research. The cave here is seen as an intricate space, similar to the one of the human viscera, as well as a place where a reconnection with Mother Earth and our original state of humanity is possible.

Isola formed around the idea of narrating, like in a travel journal, a fictional voyage from an adventurer's perspective; from approaching an imaginary island to venturing into its core.

Celebrating the beauty of the classical forms, the nude figures in the landscape evoke a sense of a dreamlike dimension, in which the viewer is invited to immerse themselves. Concentrating the narrative more on their gestures, rather than their identity, my subjects are faceless islanders, accompanying foreigners through their visit.
The objects I have collected throughout the making of my work, have been taken out of their original context and photographed individually, against a simple black background. This enhances their evocative power and shifts the focus onto their symbolic value. As fragments of an ended voyage, the objects almost become 'organs' of the island itself, organic pieces that have been secretly removed from it.

Isola is not a specific place and it does not belong to a specific time. Impenetrable, it exists only in images.