People Now Absent
Paul Hill, Corridor of Uncertainty
Book Review by Jackie Higgins
Published by: Dewi Lewis
Paul Hill is perhaps best known for landscape photography, in particular his monochrome images of the remote corner of the Peak District where he lives. This work was presented in his memorable book White Peak, Dark Peak (1990). The imagery in his latest publication marks a radical departure. Made after he lost his wife to cancer, Hill turned to colour and chose to express himself through still life, close-up and abstract photography. He says, "I did not – could not – document her decline directly. I have considered these images individually and collectively and how they interrelate and correlate to reflect the experience."
Leafing through the book various themes continually resurface. The inanimate face of a statue seems more like a death mask. A gravestone appears etched with a poignantly long list of children’s names, all lost to one family. These images consider death, others hint at the fragility of life. One traces the delicate lines of a butterfly, another a moth, both symbolising life’s brevity. Pictures of stains, smudges and footprints suggest the presence of people now absent. By fixing the moment, the medium of photography acts to highlight our impermanence. Furthermore, under Hill’s gaze, life is made insubstantial.