Last spring the Dartmoor Collective launched The Hawthorn Bursary. Working closely with the School of Photography at the University of Plymouth, the Bursary provides a £500 grant to a third year student to develop a discrete body of work based around Dartmoor. In doing do we hope that new and different perspectives will emerge of the Moor and that young artists will be given the space and resources to develop their artistic practice.
Nine months later and we are delighted to highlight and profile the first recipient of the bursary, Trudy Roden, as we publish her work Of Breeze and Watcher.
Stephen: Tell us a little bit about your relationship with Dartmoor, both before the pandemic and now.
Trudy: Before this project I had not spent a lot of time on Dartmoor, just a few trips every year. But it was always somewhere I enjoyed going and exploring, a place to be completely immersed in nature. Dartmoor has always felt like a place that could be so dangerous but so welcoming and beautiful at the same time. During the pandemic and the lockdowns, I felt more than ever that it was the only place I wanted to be. I felt strongly that I needed to be somewhere other than within the same four walls everyday, which meant that as soon as we were able to go outside for non-essential journeys, Dartmoor was one of the first places I went.
Stephen: Now that Of Breeze and Watcher, the body of work that you undertook as part of the Hawthorn Bursary award, is completed, is it something that you would have done without the award?
Trudy: Having the support of the Bursary to further this project, I explored as much as possible within Dartmoor and also my photographic practice. I feel I have been given the opportunity to explore my thoughts for this project in a way which I would not have done if I had not been given the space to do so. The time I spent on Dartmoor and with the images I was making meant I felt closer to the work I was creating, and that I had more of myself within the images.
Stephen: Your artist’s statement (and the beautiful poem by your sister, which also features in the zine) highlight the theme of re-emergence, and that Dartmoor has in a way provided a “safe space” in which this can take place.
The imagery you have created is beautiful but also has a great sense of stillness and peacefulness, it feels quite intimate and detailed. I don’t know quite what the question is here, but I do know how your imagery makes me feel. If you could say something about this that would be great.
Trudy: Despite the pouring rain, it was emotional to be out in nature and be using a camera again. I think being able to capture this moment with photography was the main idea of this use of ‘phototherapy’, especially being able to look back at the images and essentially relive those moments. The images hold a lot of emotions for me and my path coming out of lockdown.
I wanted the images to be able to bring different emotions for different viewers of the work. They obviously mean something for me, but what feelings could they muster for others also coming out of lockdown? Having these vast views of nature to take in could be quite emotional for some people who have had a bad few years dealing with Covid, whether that is from losing someone from the virus, being affected financially, or suffering mentally. We have collectively been through an experience that is both very similar but also can throw up very different issues, to an extent where we don’t need to ask others about their experiences, we have an understanding because of what we have had to deal with.
Stephen: What are your immediate and longer term plans with regard to your photography? Has the bursary in any way helped in defining those plans?
Trudy: The pandemic halted almost all opportunities to be out with a camera, so I am still regaining my love for photography. The bursary really helped me regain the confidence, initiative and drive to make work and be creative. The bursary has also shown me that work can be very personal and remind me what I am capable of.
In the longer term, I am yet to know where I might belong in the world of photography or the arts. There is so much out there and I want to try to be more diverse in what I am doing and creating.
The Hawthorn Bursary continues into its second year with students currently preparing their applications.