Graham French


Artist Statement

This series was born on the coast of Spain while I was shooting landscapes along the cliffs that border the Northern Atlantic. Looking out over the ocean, I watched as vast, muscular banks of clouds gathered and dissolved. Fascinated by this elemental, fluid spectacle, I shot some pictures that captivated me when I reviewed them at day's end. Water droplets and ice crystals suspended above the ocean created a landless horizon in constant flux and motion. The tension resulting from the attempt to capture the ephemeral movements of a single element in radically different forms spoke to something larger. These cloudscapes projected the silent power, menace and misleading sense of stillness so often associated with the deep bodies of water that feed them.

I was inspired to seek out geographic spaces that marked the threshold of land and sea so that I might explore the interplay that creates these massive, delicate spectacles. I wanted to invite viewers, through my lens, to witness the beauty of these cloudscapes: the peacefulness, the power, the sense of isolation and awareness brought on by an impending storm viewed at a distance. This was not without its hazards--I traveled to remote coastal locations in Spain, Ireland, Newfoundland and California only to be met, on occasion, with horrifically sunny days. At other times, huge and haunting skies proved too great a distraction. One might ignore a subtle shift in the oceanic currents and nearly be blown off a cliff. The elements seemed to relish the opportunity to illustrate the folly of trying to capture them.

The results of this undertaking are displayed here. I am proud to share them. They are an exploration of the relationship between elements intimately linked together in a state of constant change. This is a fluid world that, viewed carefully, reminds us that, despite their immense power and beauty, despite their inky black edges of disquiet, these cloudscapes are fragile constructions. As much a part of our landlocked existence as the water that creates them is a part of our bodies.