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The North as a fantasy playground: Re-evaluating the literary influences in the landscape photography of Raymond Moore.

This book chapter explores the landscape photography of Raymond Moore (1920-1987), a photographer who has been contextualised as a minor footnote in the British documentary tradition of the 1970s, yet whose work deserves further scrutiny. It uses my previously unpublished interview with the photographer recorded in the last year of his life.

The output is a book chapter investigating the influence of literature on the northern landscape photography of Raymond Moore.

The aim of my research is to create an additional interpretation of the photographer’s work and to suggest he is an unrecognised early proponent of deadpan visual humour and conceptualism and his practice is far more infused by literary influences than has been previously described.

The methods I have employed in my research were hampered by a continuing legal uncertainty over the legacy of his archive, which has contributed to a full critical re-evaluation of his work – his work is no longer accessible and as such, has not been exhibited or republished like many of his contemporaries. However, I was fortunate to interview the photographer shortly before his untimely death in 1987 and a transcript of this was published for the first time in my book chapter.

The research insights I have gleaned is that Moore, who expressed a fascination with Arthur Machen’s The Hill of Dreams and Mashuo Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North, projected his own internally driven narratives onto bleak nondescript landscapes. A reflective pessimist looking for signs of finality, impending departure and desperation. Although Moore’s work drew influence from European and American sources, his work has a characteristically British undertone. Since his death in 1987, photography’s expanded field of practice has emerged, freeing artists and photographers to explore themes and concerns beyond the established silos of practice of documentary and landscape. Moore’s photographic career overlapped several significant points in the history of the medium, yet his highly individualised practice sat outside both established and emerging conventions.

My research has been disseminated nationally as a book chapter and a conference presentation.

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