Nicholas Hughes: The Sound of Space Breathing

The Sound of Space Breathing is a new exhibition of silver gelatin prints from British photographer, Nicholas Hughes (b.1963, UK).   


Drawn from his latest body of work created over seven years, the images represent a photographic journey both literally and figuratively. Using his immediate landscape as both a meditative and inspirational resource, Hughes regularly set out with his large format camera travelling the many footpaths around his home leading to the Cornish coast.  The resulting photographs offer deeply subjective, almost transcendental impressions of these journeys, serving as a diaristic record as well as a personal reflection on the urgent need for humans to repair their relationship with nature.


Rendered in silvery greys and deep blacks, the prints are luminous in quality and reveal the rich tonal range of natural light. Each image is an invitation to consider the potential of landscape, whether that be the shimmer of condensation on a branch, the close knit canopies of foliage, or the shift in natural forms on reaching the coast where he captures both the force and stillness of the sea.


Technically, Hughes also pushes the limits of his craft, exploiting the photomechanical in the darkroom, often layering imagery to create new, magical scenes that evoke the emotional reality of his environment. 


For Hughes, the art of looking is akin to the art of listening and his series’ often follow musical or poetic lines.  The Sound of Space Breathing is structured in verses inspired by the lyricism of the natural world and the rhythm of his own physical movement through the landscape.  Deeply influenced by cultural histories of walking and writers such as Henry David Thoreau and Rebecca Solnit Hughes observes that, “Revelations come over time – slow time. It is often in the detail that the greatest insights take place. The wood grain is as the rippled puddle, the spacing of stars in the night sky akin to the flower heads breaking the surface of the pond. Through nature, all makes sense, all things flow one into the other.”