John Hilliard

Over Deepdale


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Not on display

John Hilliard born 1945
Photograph, black and white, on board and transfer lettering
Unconfirmed: 787 × 1778 mm
Purchased 1980

Catalogue entry


Inscribed on reverse ‘John Hilliard 1979/No. 1 (of 4 versions)’
Black and white photographs and letraset mounted on board, 31 × 70 (78.8 × 179)
Purchased from the Lisson Gallery (Grant-in-Aid) 1980
Exh: John Hilliard, Lisson Gallery, April–May 1980 (no catalogue); Art Anglais d'Aujourd'hui: Collection Tate Gallery, Londres, Musée Rath, Geneva, July–September 1980 (9, repr.); Medunarodna Izložba Likovnih Umetnosti Beograd'80, Muzej Savremene Umetnosti, Belgrade, October–December 1980 (Hilliard 2, repr.)
Lit: John Hilliard, ‘Unpopulated Rural Black-And-White Exteriors/Populated Urban Coloured Interiors’, Aspects, no.1, October–December 1977, n.p.
Repr: John Hilliard, Borderland, Orchard Gallery, Londonderry, 1981, n.p.

Between 1976 and 1980, John Hilliard worked mainly with black-and-white landscape photographs, writing in 1976: 'For my own purposes, a kind of landscape photography that follows from only a discreet intervention, has “snapshot” realism and is pared down to essentials, fulfils a need both in terms of a somewhat puritanical sensibility and in relation to the demands of the procedures I choose to adopt. But it doesn't follow that this should be held as a paradigm to the exclusion of others, especially because it is only a paradigm of means.

'...My choice of subject-matter is determined by its adequacy to function as one part within a “model” that describes how the constraints exercised by both photography and the English language (specifically when conjoined in a marriage of word and image), direct an expression and an understanding within the confines of the structures of those media...’ (in Aspects, 1, op.cit.).

Hilliard has often worked in Cumbria and T03078 was photographed near Helvellyn in Spring 1979. Before going out to photograph the landscape, the artist followed his usual procedure of making a preliminary drawing of the type of formal relationships he wished to set up in the work. Having selected a view which suited his needs, he remembers taking between twelve and fifteen photographs from roughly the same position during the course of one day, as the light conditions changed. From these he eventually made four versions of ‘Over Deepdale’, of which T03078 is the first.

For each of the four works, Hilliard juxtaposed two prints taken from the same negative, the left-hand print emphasising the darker areas of the landscape and the right-hand print reversing the process. At the bottom of the image, in the centre, bridging the join between the two prints, are the words ‘Over Deepdale’. By their position these words are intended to echo the way in which the pictorial image appears to carry over from one print to the next. At the same time, they suggest the landscape itself, the cloud shadows passing across the path, the stream crossing the landscape (visible in the lighter print), and the artist's search for a suitable view looking down into the valley. Hilliard has made a number of landscape-based works using this approach. He has pointed out that one ‘commonplace of photography’ is the fact that within one negative there may exist very thin and very dense areas, so that in a print giving reasonable contrast, any emphasis or detail in the darker areas will be at the expense of information contained in the lighter passages and vice versa. It is the printer who controls the amount of information, and, specifically, what information to reveal. By placing two prints from the same negative side by side with an ambiguous linking agent, (the words ‘Over Deepdale’), Hilliard emphasises the constituents of black and white photography.

He used a Haselblad for this work and the prints were made by F.H. Marlow Ltd of Kentish Town.

This entry has been approved by the artist.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1980-82: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1984

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