Exhibition 14 – Robert Johnstone

Robert Johnstone.
Title: Lands of the Free?
The Notice Board brings international artists work to Uffington inviting you to consider their responses to an ongoing theme: The Lands of the Free? This month we feature a series of photographs taken by Robert Johnstone who since 2010 has lived outside of the UK. He is researching how recipes travel in the Mediterranean. Alongside this work he documents handmade interventions in the communities he visits. A selection is offered here; hung in pairs to create a conversation which you are invited to join.  @noticeboardunited

TNB: How have you understood the theme?
RJ: The Land of the Free? wasn’t a theme when I took these photos, it has come as I thought about which images to show. Over time, during my travels, I’ve had the realisation there is no free place. Instead there are lots of boundaries, permitted spaces, prohibitions. People, all of us, limit things, we demark space, control how others view or navigate and those with ownership delineate to reveal their possession. This of course affects people moving freely. It’s about control. We can see it here in the white lines, the stones piled up, the walls, the grapevine trained to grow over the rock, the greenhouses on the Libyian Sea with vegetables from the Americas and workers from Bangladesh. 

TNB: Is place important to these handmade improvisations too?
RJ: Yes of course. I like that in most cases the responses are frugal and local; done with resources and skills at hand. People have responded to the place and their needs and used what they have – its grass roots creativity. The things I photo are not made by artisans, just regular people who have been clever, problem solved and provided often elegant responses.

TNB: Why the double sided flag?
RJ: All the photos are taken in either of those countries. It represents the commonality found rather than the division, these 2 countries have a complex and often troubled relationship, now and in the past, but they share The Aegean Sea, but define their differences with language and hide their similarities with the same. 

You can follow Robert here @insightofthesea blog & his website is coming soon.