“My work involves hunting and mapping familiar things that are often overlooked or underexplored,” says photographer Tamsin Green. Her work has taken her to obscure far away locations, often armed with little more than a geologist’s toolkit and a series of Google Earth images. Such was the case with her latest project, ‘Born of the Purest Parents.’ The series was initially conceptualised following a walk through the Camargue region of Southern France, where the photographer was struck by the white streaks carving through the landscape. On closer inspection, Green recognised them as naturally forming salt. Utilising this familiar mineral as a starting point, she began to explore what more there was to be seen of such an everyday object – examining both its origin and connection to human life.
The extraction of salt is one of the oldest examples of human intervention within our landscape. There are plentiful minerals on earth, but supplies available for human use depend on our desire for materials paired with our willingness to accept the environmental consequences of extraction. Certain salt deposits, in particular those of inland Europe, were formed millions of years ago; there is little to tell of what repercussions we may face following over extraction.
Other salts, including those produced in coastal and lake environments, follow an annual cycle. Green’s research afforded her the knowledge that the same mineral, halite, can be formed by different processes; however, the formations created appear distinctly different in structure. This is illustrated in the set of salt prints of the specimens Green collected on field trips to each of the four landscape typologies: salt pan, lake, mine and mountain.
Across each of these landscapes Green encountered a recurring ambiguity of scale, as her work covered a spectrum stretching from the individual grain to the mountain or mine. Geological photographs often include a familiar object for scale – a ruler, pen or hammer. In omitting these familiar reference points, Green’s photographs have no point of reference. They abstract the everyday and force our perspective to be reexamined.
‘Born of the Purest Parents’ oscillates between the fragmented mineral specimen and the topographic survey. Through closely observed landscape features, scale and alienation are explored within both natural and man-made places, through the lens of a mineral rarely examined yet undeniably fundamental to human life.