Oliver Barnett is an English photographic artist living in Cape Town, South Africa.
Having emigrated from the UK to South Africa in 2007, It didn’t take long to fall under the influence of the wild elemental scenery of the Cape, so stark in contrast to the beautiful but essentially manicured English countryside in which I grew up. The move prompted a new creative path guided by valuable insights into the self-regulating intelligence of nature and the desire for an enhanced participation in the unfolding cycles we are bound to.
Many hours have been spent exploring these new lands, I taught myself photography and started to learn about the unique diversity of the Cape floral kingdom. This led to the development of adaptive editing techniques to create images that offer a narrative to a transforming sensory perception of place within the land. The resulting body of work intends to provide tools to connect to a collective perception of the environment and prompt new ways to encourage the seeds of recovered ecological sensibility occurring within human consciousness.
Over the course of time, distinct threads have unravelled to create autonomous sequences of images that inform each other in the creative process. The early work consisted of landscape portals, extracted from notably vibrant natural settings encountered while walking. These sanctuaries, steeped in symbolic reference, intend to yield a sense of stillness and balance that the viewer can drift into and, if necessary, shelter from the tensions of modern life.
As the eye and technique become more integrated, a microcosm has emerged, into which we are invited to take a closer look at familiar and unusual aspects of the landscape. This work sets out to encounter abstract natural structures that stimulate an extra-sensory response, whilst allowing room for any free floating elements that may embellish the viewing experience.
An awareness of the geometric principles that underlie the source material, an invaluable guideline when composing the photographs, allows a creative platform to create images that intend to explore and unite scientific and spiritual realms to invoke balance in the way humans interact with nature.
The reflective technique emerged as a way of playing with my own bilateral perception of a scene, initially in forest settings. The representation of trees as symbolic, temple-like structures creates for me a window into a coherent, re-synchronized operating system that appeared to have become distracted by the demands of modern life. Through experimentation with depth of field and other relevant photographic techniques, I attempt to fuse bilateral symmetry, which humans instinctively recognize as a primal archetype, with other planes of symmetry such as radial and rotational, which are more prevalent in the natural world of plants and other organic structures.
Two solo shows in a six month period in London and Cape Town were followed by ‘Human Nature’ in October 2014, a group show featuring a range of mixed media artists who each examine ways to communicate our changing relationship with the environment. 2016 will see the launch of a new exhibition ‘Polymorphic’, which i consider to be the culmination of all the influences along the journey thus far.
Polymorphic - Ebony - Cape Town March/April 2016
Animata – Ebony – Cape Town June 2014
Aqualibrium – Minsitry of Nomads – London November 2013
Aeipathy - Equus Gallery - Stellenbosch Feb 2016
Ebony - Cape Town December 2014
Human Nature – Hoxton Arches, London October 2014
Ebony - Cape Town August 2013