Kate Kirkwood is a photographer based on a farm in the English Lake District.
“From birth until my early fifties, I was surrounded by family in one way or another; now, without ever planning it, I find myself living alone on a hill farm in the Lake District. Over the past decade or so, my company has often been simply the expansive, oscillating silence of hills and sky, especially present through the long winters. Having grown up in Africa, this place is still, even after thirty-six years, foreign to me in some ways, but it has seeped in and filled my every vein regardless.
This kind of solitude is a dream for many though just occasionally it can become an aching loneliness. Over the years, starting out with just a small point-and-shoot camera, I’ve taken photographs of my surroundings and the animals who reside in them. This slowly accumulated archive now seems like a celebration of this rare and beautiful quietude, and also the discovery and recognition of some of the resilience, acceptance and grace of the animals I have encountered. The creatures I meet are not exotic; they are mostly domestic farm animals and the small, wild creatures who survive on the farms and in the few remaining pockets of wilderness. Coming upon another living creature when alone – and sometimes being noticed by them momentarily in return – is quite different from doing so in the company of others, when the experience is shared.
I hope that visitors to the exhibition might identify with that fleeting wonder of singular engagement themselves. I hope too that, in a modest way, this series of images might also be metaphorical, describing, through the animals, something of how it feels to be alone, even if for a few, brief, unguarded moments.”
‘In the eternal moment which is reality … you have to give time to rest, to renew, as with the land; if you exhaust it, by permanently expecting fruit, you disorganise the rhythm … the breathing.… Silence, peace and loneliness are necessary to receive inspiration, [to] be empty for the new – for the rain to come.’ – Sergio Larrain
‘Animals give us their constant, unjaded faces and we burden them with our bodies and civilized ordeals. We’re both humbled by and imperious with them. An animal’s wordlessness takes on the cleansing qualities of space: we freefall through the beguiling operations of our own minds with which we calculate our miseries to responses that are immediate. Animals hold us to what is present: to who we are at the time, not who we’ve been or how our bank accounts describe us. What is obvious to an animal is not the embellishment that fattens our emotional résumés but what’s bedrock and current in us: aggression, fear, insecurity, happiness or equanimity. Because they have the ability to read our involuntary tics and scents, we’re transparent to them and thus exposed – we’re finally ourselves.’ – Gretel Ehrlich
‘…go to nature in all singleness of heart, and walk with her laboriously and trustingly, having no other thoughts but how best to penetrate her meaning, and remember her instruction; rejecting nothing, selecting nothing, and scorning nothing; believing in all things to be right and good, and rejoicing always in the truth.’ John Ruskin
*Seul: tr: alone; solitary; single