Silentium (silence, stillness, quiet, repose, obscurity)

'I blink in uncertainty at this dream like luminescence feeling as though some misty film were blunting my vision.'

Junichiro Tanizaki 

Set in an urban Community garden, whose physical presence has all but been eliminated from view, the images refer to a space that is implied rather than exposed, where unwanted plants have grown up between the garden boundaries and the protective surface of the polytunnel. This semi opaque surface protects the fragile beginnings of growth as it lets in the sunlight without overheating or scorching. The images depict a perpetual descent into the winter months as the foliage of the Buddleia davidii slowly retracts from the almost invisible fog-like surface of the polytunnel, and the plant begins to shroud itself in mist. This surface begins to suggest a representation of a more physical deterioration of sight or a certain optical fatigue, as the pale glow of the translucent plastic acts as a visual barrier to the outside world. This denial of visual references to scale, place and object, also emphasises the disorientating spatial relationships between the tunnel’s skin and the outside space, an effect heightened by the use of an almost monochrome tonal palette. The images are deliberately flattened by this surface and draws on a distinctly oriental aesthetic, referring to the use of shoji screens.

Paradoxically, the garden becomes integral to the project despite being hidden from the viewer as this insignificant non-space tries to reclaim the wild. The images look away from the garden, beyond the boundary and through the surface that clouds the view. The invasive, unwanted Buddleia davidii tenuously peers through the murk, forcing itself into the frame revealing the unobserved, unremarked remarkable that surrounds us, even in such ordinary settings. The images are predominantly concerned with the temporal nature of the garden space. The project, challenge the audience to address the ‘absence‘ within the frame and throughout the book head on, and urges the viewer to become aware of the mundane, the everyday and the beautiful ordinariness in normal life. They also address the fundamental basis of photography, that of looking and perceiving, and asks the viewer to become more aware of their surroundings. 

'Yet for better or for worse we do love things that bare the marks of grime, soot, and weather, and we love the colours and the sheen that call to mind the past that made them.'

Jenichiro Tanizaki


The garden itself came into existence through a regeneration project to improve deprived areas and is a resource for the local community to grow their own organic food where they have no space of their own to do so. A number of programs have been set up over the last eight years of the gardens life with local schools to combine learning with practical skills. There has also been rehabilitation groups set up in order to support recovering alcoholics and drug abusers in taking the first steps back into employment through volunteering in the garden.