Dartmoor – Lanes and Crosses (2015)

Although I was taking photographs of Dartmoor in the 1960’s, it was when we came back to live in Devon that I took up the challenge.

In 1982 Impressions Gallery commissioned me to photograph the North York Moors. When I compare my Dartmoor photos with the earlier work, I find that Dartmoor has a harsher beauty that is more difficult to capture.

This is Dartmoor in a different light and spirit, blending rocks, moorland, fields and trees together in an abstract form, letting the viewer see it as I often do. The altered landscapes, the decay, death and rebirth of the moors interest me.

These very personal images were taken from some of the projects that I have been doing over the last 12 years of photography on the moors. Projects like ‘Dartmoor’, ‘Shape of Light and Shadow’, ‘Dartmoor Sensing’, ‘The Shape of Water’, ‘Dartmoor War Memorials’, ‘The Final Light’ and ‘Come from the Shadows’.

We go into the shadows and we come out of the shadows.
We can stand in a place but we are not sure where we are.
What do we want from our world, the best of it, or the most of all.
We can be ashamed of what man can do and all we have is love to cling onto.
We do not have the time to compromise.

Time is what we love to remember.
We remember time, yet we forget.
The heavy brightness in the light of day, is it the shadows that show us the way.
The lanes and crosses to our journeys end.
The rivers, woods and rocks tell us we are the last ones in.

The movements in static forms.
Ancient times in shapes at rest.
Man’s relics in recent past.
Our focus is sometimes shallow, but it can be the time to see the best.

We look ahead and miss the present, we argue about love when the children of our world are dying.

Lets ‘Come from the Shadows’

Fotonow CIC curated an exhibition of some of these photographs at the Devon Rural Archive. They were also shown at the Innovation Centre, Exeter University in 2014.

In memory of David Curno
4/12/1937 – 26/12/2014

The time of day and year, the light and the weather all serve to bring a renewed encounter with the moor.  We ourselves are older, if not wiser each time we cross its landscape. We have changed and the world around us has changed too, if not always for the better.  It’s often harsh beauty seems somehow immortal.    It stands looking back with a penetrating stare which begs questions of us individually and collectively.

The photographs by John Curno in this book, made during a number of different projects over the last 12 years, mark and reflect a series of deep and intensely personal journeys into and onto the moor.  During these encounters Curno found and made images which serve as metaphors for some of the profound personal questions that confront us all on our journeys through our short and fragile lives.  Curno’s intense images prompt us to stop and give time to reflect on the physical and metaphorical landscape of Dartmoor.

Pete James
Curator, Photography Collections
Library of Birmingham

Curno has produced a body of work over more than a decade that could only be made by someone who is a resident with an intimate knowledge and love of this part of Britain. There is an emotional underpinning to his work that is unique and masterly.
These are evocative, sensitive, and personal photographs, and definitely not views that are the usual illustrations in publications about the countryside and national parks.

Professor Paul Hill MBE, FRPS

The book also contains an introduction by Dr. Eugenie Shinkle, Senior Lecturer in Photographic Theory and Criticism at University of Westminster, London.