Devon photographer Louise R Cohen at the Tavistock Wharf: Review

Devon photographer Louise R Cohen’s first public exhibition is being held at the Tavistock Wharf this month.

Focusing on local flora, fauna and landscapes, Sticklepath-based Cohen’s work includes the standard, but nevertheless well-composed images of mares and their wobbly-legged offspring, sheep sporting slightly quizzical looks and trees brilliant in their autumn finery.

It is when Cohen uses what she describes as ‘unusual or difficult lighting situations’ in her work that her images really shine. These ‘situations’ include shooting directly into the rising sun, capturing stray rays of light as clouds gather over a boat at sea, and photographing a river on a dull-skied, snowy day. Cohen uses these challenging conditions to produce more abstract images that focus the viewer on contrast and form.

Of particular note are Morning Mist and River Snowfall – images that could be described as ‘colour-black-and-white’, the subdued lighting created by the mist and snow effectively bleaching the image to monochrome. Closer examination uncovers highlights of colour – the orange light from a lamp on a bridge and fronds of the darkest green from ferns clustered on a snowy riverbank.

Also featured in the exhibition are Cohen’s seascapes. Overcoming the challenges of light and scale encountered in seaside photography, Cohen focuses on the different colours and patterns found at the beach to produce interesting images. In Tranquil Sands a vast expanse of brown beach contrasts with blue-grey standing water and pebbles. Contemplating Surfers features the different textures of churning white surf, shining unbroken waves and smooth mounds of wet sand.

Heather Smith

After years in denial, Heather Smith has finally conceded that she is a writer, willing to exchange the products of many hours of blood, sweat and crossing-out for the chance of being published.In addition to PRSD and Art+Culture she has written for Art Cornwall, iwalkdevon and Behind the Spin. She also blogged about her life as a mature student on Later Study. In her spare time she enjoys watching her bantams think up new ways of destroying her veg patch, camera-less photography and making jewellery with found objects. Her ambition is to become a mad old woman and own an alpaca called Gerald.