Reviews

Various Effigies and Various Fires Among These Dark Satanic Mills

Brad Feuerhelm

January 3, 2015

AS_Something_Like_a_Nest-37 (Custom)

@ Andy Sewell

“And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On England’s pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills”?

-William Blake

By Brad Feuerhelm, ASX, January 2015

Andy Sewell has been a photographic purveyor of the British landscape for some time now. His previous work “The Heath” fits comfortably within the tradition of pastoral England and it could be said that he shares some affinity towards the grandeur of its open spaces. Rarely focusing on concrete, the urban landscape or that of the post-Ballard dystopia that England often elicits from photographers, Sewell’s new body of work “Something Like a Nest” combines his interest in the aforementioned pastoral with something a bit darker. Within the pages of his beautifully produced self-published book, we come to terms with England’s pastoral role against that of the emerging global consumerism that porously invades its borders. Once a completely agrarian island society, we see consumption, mass production, and a sense of loss and confusion pervading the land. The grapes are from Spain, the avocados from Jerusalem, and the swine trucks roll in effortlessly from Eastern Europe. The elegiac response that he has crafted is not as simple or light-hearted as it first appears and the layers within this book are important for understanding the economy of the land.

Though still concentrating on landscape, the book is broken up into small soliloquys or mediations on the idea of consumption. Piles of preservative rich sugar-ridden bread dissolve in a shed, frozen turkeys are adorned with a depressive pathos set indoors on the dining table against the frozen wintry landscape just outside of the patio door, and the harvest fires burn excess packaging in their autumnal surround. There are Plastic totems of washing up liquid standing like toy soldiers across windowsills, blocking out shafts of radiant light with their cheap reproducibility and general quotidian presence. There is a palpable feel of what England is encountering under the auspices of global market change. There is a shift in the balance of things here. Loss is prevalent and the never ending flow of Tesco bags and throwaway consumer debris are given a shaking of the head and all are set against the backdrop of England’s once green and pleasant land.

AS_Something_Like_a_Nest-49 (Custom)

@ Andy Sewell

Piles of preservative rich sugar-ridden bread dissolve in a shed, frozen turkeys are adorned with a depressive pathos set indoors on the dining table against the frozen wintry landscape just outside of the patio door, and the harvest fires burn excess packaging in their autumnal surround.

Sewell’s work has matured greatly from a tradition focused on landscape towards photography as metaphor. It is A soft-spoken social commentary set against the harvest fires and pale moons and ever quiet suns, the work feels more like rumination than a statement. The fog still rolls over the green and pleasant land, but a chill follows and in the distance the sound of the lorries’ hum grows louder by the minute. Where dirt roads once tied communities together, now men in orange traffic jackets plot the next ton of concrete they will lay to divide the traffic towards new communities and new breadlines.

Something Like A Nest
Andy Sewell
Self Published
ISBN: 9780956892317

(All rights reserved. Text @ Brad Feuerhelm. Images @ Andy Sewell.)