Harland Sick – Steve Cordingley

Posted on 25/05/2017 by Admin under Reviews
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Harland Sick, Steve Cordingley

Harland Sick is the first photobook by Derbyshire photographer Steve Cordingley.  It “forms a response to an afternoon spent exploring – and sinking in – the Harland Sick” (a boggy area of peat) high on Beeley Moor in the Peak District.  The book comprises 16 monochrome images and an accompanying poem, ‘Stugged’.

Like The legendary Wainwright’s Guides to the Lake District, Harland Sick skillfully leads us on a journey over the moor.  First approaching it, then leading us over the Sick before reaching rocks at the highest point.

There’s a rhythm to the book that any seasoned hiker will identify with – the welcoming panoramic view of expectation, space to explore and reflect, watching where your feet are going, repeat for the next section…The book flows at the pace of life.

No people feature anywhere.  Just the photographer in the land.  As we press on into the desolate moor we have to watch our step, negotiating the boggy areas of the Sick.  Despite the dark black peat here’s little space for ‘noir’ monochrome here – the slightly soft contrast and warm tones envelop us, encapsulate us, as though in a soft cloud.  Comforting yet threatening.  We cant see the heavy peat cloying to our boots as we view the pages, but we know its there.

Then the summit.  We reach our goal.  The view from the top comes in the form of a poem. Engaging and perfectly matched to the experiences of the moor described above.

Is the book a walk or a metaphor for life? Images of skulls and frogspawn-thick standing water remind us that we have travelled a circle of life.  A cycle that is woven into the peat that consumes all that stand still on it for too long.

Best keep moving then.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It treads gently on the land in a sensitive way, engaging the senses through poetry and images.  It explores our relationships with both our own lifetime and the land we live it on.

Harland Sick is self-published by Steve Cordingley and available here: https://stevecordingleyphotography.co.uk/prints/harlandsick

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