From Geology to Photography (and back again)

Artist Elizabeth Woodger

Twelve years ago, I was working as a geologist. My remit was to research past greenhouse climates as a potential analogue for future climate change. Since then, I’ve retrained as a fine art photographer, but my fascination for the environment remains unchanged. My creative practice therefore aims to raise awareness of prescient global issues –such as the climate and biodiversity crises – by using the natural elements of my local surroundings.

Over the past six months, I’ve been exploring the Mendip Hills with my family as part of a photographic commission (the Moments on Mendip project). Together, we’ve hiked over 150km; explored windswept ridges and twisting caves. We’ve discovered Bronze Age barrows and Iron Age hill forts. And we’ve encountered a remarkable variety of wildlife and weather!

Spending time in nature and unearthing hidden features in the environment is what inspires me as an artist. I often find myself thinking about how landscapes evolve, and in this respect, the Mendip Hills illustrate just how deeply geology and humanity are entwined. The underlying rocks determine where water flows, what soils form and where plants grow. In turn, humans alter the landscape and influence natural processes. My new work ‘Menhir’ is a visual exploration of this relationship, embodied by printing photographs onto rocks and then re-photographing them in the environment.

As my Mendip adventures draw to a close, there’s still one major landmark remaining; the outdoor installation at Cheddar Gorge. Several years ago, I was asked to describe my ideal exhibition opportunity (no matter how outlandish or fanciful it might be) and I suggested a digital projection onto a large rock formation. Now, thanks to the Seed commission, the creative vision of the Mendip Hills AONB and the technical expertise of Somerset Film, that fantasy is about to become a reality.

Elizabeth’s free exhibition ‘Menhir’ will take place Sunday October 22nd 6:30pm at Cheddar Gorge as part of Moments On Mendip

More on the Exhibition