Victoria Cunningham:

Victoria Cunningham is also, like Paul Gorman, a recent graduate from The Arts University College Bournemouth 2011. I saw Victoria’s work at her graduate show ‘Paradalia’ in June 2011-The show was a stunning array of student work, and Victorias’ was one of the most memorable for me. Her images are captivating in their rare beauty, boasting technique and skill-yet kept within a contemporary and theoretical framework.

Reminescent of Pictorialist ideals of photography that often takes an approach that emphasises the beauty of subject matter, tonality, and composition rather than the documentation of reality. Victoria draws influence from this era and in particular the work of Edward Steichen.

The Pictorialist perspective was born in the late 1860s and held sway through the first decade of the 20th century. It approached the camera as a tool that, like the paintbrush and chisel, could be used to make an artistic statement. Thus photographs could have aesthetic value and be linked to the world of art expression.

This series of work is heavenly and beauteous to look at. I stand in awe of these remarkable expressions of wintry landscapes and feel a sense of escape from this mad, chaotic world that we now live in. What Victoria also nails is a sense of history. I feel like I am looking at an image of a Victorian park. She leaves out any sense of the modern world, which to me, is what anchors it so successfully. The tonality is devoid of range, but through simplifying colour, one is able to focus more on subject matter. The land holds such a vast representational value, both aesthetically and emotionally and this is obviously what inspires Victoria. Her work conceptually explores the inner psychological landscape. Themes of memory, time and emotion are all present within the work.

Victoria creates this effect through a mixture of techniques. She uses a medium format camera with film, and re-photographs a physical wall projection of transparency images. She then scans these utilising minimal post production techniques. What becomes clear later, is that the outcome is a haunting masterpiece of a space that does not really ‘exist’, cleverly drawing parallels with our own memories as fragmented, yet fluid. The overall aesthetic is achieved my manual and physical processes beforehand.