Martin Newth

Green and Pleasant Land


Photograph, 298cm x 369cm, 2019


Exhibited at Sex, Suicide, Socialism, Spirit and Stereotypes at Kronika Centre for Contemporary Art, Bytom, Poland

  7th December, 2019 – 24th January, 2020  



Green and Pleasant Land are the final four words of William Blake’s poem ‘And did those feet in ancient time’. Now better known as ‘Jerusalem’ it has become an unofficial, patriotic anthem for Great Britain. The phrase evokes a nostalgic vision of the English countryside. Martin Newth’s photograph was made in the Cotswolds, a quintessentially English landscape often used to represent an idealised view of the Country. The photograph is a red negative image of an English oak tree. Whilst at first glance the image appears to depict a normal forest, closer inspection shows that the woodland is heavily managed, with young trees planted in rows and the floor cleared of debris and standing dead wood. The stereotypical beauty of the landscape is replaced by a more menacing appeal. The woodland depicted, rather than being a space for freely wandering through the pleasant land, is part of a private estate, Farncombe, owned by the security and surveillance firm G4S and used for corporate training. The work speaks of the complicated relationship between the landscape and national identity, asking questions about ownership, control and nostalgia as well as pointing to the crisis in the way that we understand the impact of human interventions on the natural environment.








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