It’s impossible to imagine a single visual survey of the British landscape. Like the contours of a map, each of us could circle the same place and yet experience a unique vision. James Smith’s work manages to articulate his single experience while at the same time holding up a mirror, provoking us into looking at our workaday environment afresh.
These images offer a feral journey through the outskirts of towns and the dawn streets of suburbia, finally retreating to the temporary structures that dot the British terrain, both urban and rural. They are flirtatious, instilling in the viewer curious, furtive, uneasy feelings as they coolly scrutinise the traces of our dwellings, our backyard environments. Neither cruel nor complimentary, they are careful, unblinking studies – non-judgmental images that get up close to the real beauty and legacy of utopian vision.
There’s an inherent invitation into the spaces within these photographs – tight spaces, between places – the alleys and underpasses which divide our homes from the wilderness, making evident both our intimate relationship with nature and our constant struggle to tame and control it.