Darren Almond works by examining the symbolic and emotional potential of objects, places and situations, and he produces works which have universal as well as personal resonances that regularly take him to distant places.
In 1999, Almond began a series of colour photographs, known as the Fullmoon Series. The first of these, titled Fifteen Minute Moon was an experiment: to see what would result from photographing a moonlit landscape using an extended time exposure. He shot his first Fullmoon photograph on a trip near the Montagne Sainte Victoire in France, which was inspiration for much of Cézanne’s last paintings. It remained in Almond’s studio for a while as he continued to think about it. As he says ‘there is always a portion of the world in shadow.’ Almond continued the series by travelling to solitary sites that had inspired artists and writers such as Turner, Constable, Caspar David Friedrich and John Ruskin. By using only the moon as a source of light and an extensive exposure time, he creates meditative landscapes that bear a mysterious and lyrical atmosphere.
Almond’s new Fullmoons capture – in an indisputable yet uncanny beauty – the Huang Shan region in the Anhui province of China. Almond was especially drawn to the Yellow Mountain range, also known as Xihai or Huang Shan, with its magnificent peaks and canyons as well as extraordinary natural sites of Chinese spiritualism.
Often translated into traditional Chinese landscape painting – which is generally called Shan Shui, or ‘mountain and water’ – Huang Shan was first depicted in 1646 by Jiang Tao, who later became the Zen monk Hongren.
Almond continues to travel to remote locations removed from the bright-lights and clamour of towns and cities to capture landscapes that may be lost to human activity in the future. These landscapes – with their notion of melancholy – are not only shaped by the moonlight but also by the historical associations that surround them.