At first sight this is a series of strikingly beautiful landscapes along the River Tyne in the north of England, from its sources on Peel Fell in Northumberland and Cross Fell in Cumbria to the sea at Tynemouth.

Inspired by classic guide books, W.J. Palmer’s The Tyne and its Tributaries, and W.W. Tomlinson’s Comprehensive Guide to Northumberland, with salutary nods to Thomas Bewick and Nikolaus Pevsner, “Tynescapes” takes the reader on a walk along the justifiably famous river in a unique way, and documents the environmental and historical changes that stretch from the depths of the country to the heart of the city.

The landscape is that magic mirror in which the spectator can see both past and future.

For many people, perceptions of nature are largely formed according to pictorial conventions, which were themselves originally established to record the construction of a landowner’s arcadian dream. In terms of its smaller geological features, what the landscape looks like is the patterned effect of work in service of ownership, be it the Roman conquerors, agricultural improvers draining and enclosing, the extractive industries of lead and coal, through time to the present day regenerators and The Angel of the North. The landscape is that magic mirror in which the spectator can see both past and future.

Looking at these images, one is no longer simply a spectator; this is no longer scenery. There is something to decipher. The pleasure principle is replaced by the shock of cognition that Brecht’s “alienation effect” (Verfremdungseffekt) would likewise produce. What we are looking at are the results of human endeavour rather than transcendental nature. The images may be serenely beautiful, but the work implied was hard and dangerous.

— Tina Carr & Annemarie Schöne

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