Awfully Pretty – 2009

Skills: Painting

Awfully Pretty

I once bought a 100-year old postcard on an online auction. On the front is a heavily tinted photo of a waterfall. The flipside is inscribed with the following narrative:

Dear Jack. One of the pretty spots but we have not been to them yet. It is an awfully pretty place, but awfully tiring it is all hills. It has been terribly hot yesterday & today. Alice had the experience of falling in the river this morning. Ethel.

Ethel confidently described a local scenic spot as “pretty” even though she hadn’t yet seen it for herself. She didn’t need to. She had the artificially coloured photo on the postcard acting as a stunt-double for the physical location. Doubtless Alice would have been wishing she had a stunt-double too.

My work is about this dependence on a manufactured image-world as a substitute for a physical experience. The landscape is both defined and obscured by a proliferation of images and cultural detritus, particularly in the area of travel imagery.