Preview of Thomas Joshua Cooper: Scattered Waters – Sources, Streams, Rivers
American photographer has turned the lens on his adopted homeland with photos of Scottish rivers
Thomas Joshua Cooper’s photography has taken him all over the world. He has spent 24 years, for example, capturing in meticulous black and white prints the edges of the Atlantic Ocean. It has taken him to both poles, and five continents. But, at the same time, he has also been working on a project much closer to home.
American-born Cooper, who is the founding head of the fine art photography department at Glasgow School of Art, has lived in Scotland for 32 years. For all that time, he has been taking photographs of Scotland’s rivers, some of the results of which are about to be unveiled at the Ingleby Gallery.
The pictures in Scattered Waters continue in the signature style in which Thomas has worked for more than 40 years: a single shot made at each location using his wooden field camera dating from 1898. He makes the prints himself in his Glasgow studio using 19th-century techniques: a large print can take him 12 hours.
As a postgraduate student at the University of New Mexico, Cooper was mentored by the grandaddy of American landscape photography, Ansel Adams. Perhaps his techniques owe something to that encounter, but he felt more kinship with the wandering British artists of landscape, Hamish Fulton and Richard Long, one reason for his move to the UK. His photographs sit somewhere between abstraction and detailed representation, and are now in a host of prestigious collections on both sides of the Atlantic.
This much-anticipated exhibition sees a man widely regarded as one of the leading art photographers in the world turn his lens on the rivers of his adopted homeland: the Forth, the Clyde, the Tweed, the Findhorn, even the Water of Leith. After a lifetime of travel to inhospitable and inaccessible lands, it is fitting to see him inspired by the landscape on his own doorstep.
Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, Sat 11 Oct–Sat 29 Nov.