Nicki Gwynn-Jones limited edition photographs at Burford Art Gallery

Nicki Gwynn-Jones FRPS


'The camera only facilitates the taking. The photographer must do the giving in order to transform and transcend ordinary reality.'
Ernst Haas

In the summer of 2016, my husband and I decided that there was probably even more to life than our very comfortable existence in Cheltenham, so we packed up our belongings and moved to Orkney with our two cats, and have no regrets.

Orkney is a group of islands situated off the north east coast of Scotland, at the point where the Atlantic Ocean meets the North Sea. From the air, it resembles a jigsaw puzzle fit for a giant, fretsawed out of the sea and painted emerald green. At first, I was entranced by the skies, huge 180-degree panoramas of endless shape-shifting beauty, but after several months of walking around with my head quite literally in the clouds, the first winter storms started to arrive.

We are surrounded by water – Orkney has nearly 600 miles of coastline – and I quickly realised that my longing to experience the primal power of the elements had been granted to me, that the place deep inside me that craves a little danger was standing to attention.

It is impossible to stand up in the very high winds, so I crawl from the car and hope for the best, aware that I am taking a risk but with an absolute need to be here, to connect with the forces that since the beginning of time have shaped this place that I now call home. In order to envelop myself in the storm I must be at eye level to the massive waves, as big as houses, as they come thundering in, so I hunker down under a cliff in a spot that could have been carved out just for me by all the raging tempests that have ever been. The sound is deafening, and I can taste the salt spray on my lips. I offer up a silent prayer that I and my camera equipment will survive…

I draw on my experiences as a bird photographer; anticipation and quick reactions are key skills here. I spend a while observing the action as the spot that I have chosen is complex; the waves often come from two directions and it is a rocky, craggy place – I pause to think of how many ships and lives have been lost along this notorious stretch of coastline. If I am lucky the sun might break through, illuminating the turbulence with all the colours of the Caribbean, but what I am really looking for is the point at which the triumvirate of wind, tide and rock combine to produce a moment of power so absolute that it is hard to comprehend.

I was awarded a fellowship in visual art by the Royal Photographic Society in 2012 and have exhibited extensively in the UK and also in Florida. I have work hanging in homes around the world.

Visit the artist's own website.

View Nicki's work on sale at the Burford Art Gallery.

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