Filed under: Lindow Moss Exhibition | Tags: landscape archaeology, Lindow Man, Lindow Man exhibitions, Lindow Moss, manchester museum body lindow, Stephen Vaughan
In this exhibition of photographs of Lindow Moss Stephen Vaughn has captured the stillness and apparently timeless quality of the peat bog.
Working in black and white and colour he has taken a series of photographs of the trackways running across the surface of the moss and of the peat rooms on either side that seem to pull in the viewer. The parallel silvery threads of the tracks of the bog railway disappear into the distance; and a breathtaking large format landscape view shows a drainage channel cutting through the rich black peat whilst mist rises along the tree line that skirts the moss.
A number of triptychs of the moss surface punctuate the displays. The roots of dead trees are like so many sgraffito squiggles incised into the surface of the photograph itself. One of the studies of tree roots has captured what looks like a water sprite frozen in the action of leaving the surface of the water, the curve of legs and arms and even a distorted face, bleached by the acidic chemistry of the bog.
If these photographs of the moss in its current exploited state have a slightly unnerving quality today we can only imagine the effect on the people of the Iron Age and early Roman period. But the stillness and tranquillity of the photographs belies the fact that the moss is rapidly disappearing because of intensive exploitation of the peat.
Indeed Stephen Vaughn’s photographs are impelled by his sense of urgency to record the site whilst there is still something left to see. As he makes clear in a quotation from the work of the German “Man of Letters” and literary critic, Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), in the introduction to the exhibition, “it is to cheat oneself of the richest prize” to content oneself with recording unearthed discoveries: the “dark joy of the place of finding itself” is just as important.
Looking at these photographs I wonder what future generations will think of us for having trashed such a beautiful place for the sake of temporary gain.
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