Originally I was going to keep this projects under wraps in an attempt to create some kind of Blair Witch type internet frenzy. But now I think its time to show what I have been up to. Heres a statement of sorts;

People who know me predominately as a landscape photographer may think of this project as a departure from my work. However, my early interests in photography came about through sculptured forms such as nudes and various still life objects and has always been a sideline to my work. If you combine this with my interest in the beauty of decay often seen in my landscapes, its easy to see the transition.

I have long had a fascination with animal curiosities, be it taxidermy, creatures suspended in formaldehyde, skeletons and in this case the skull itself. Memories of trips to the local museum on a rainy day in the summer holidays are something I still hold dear with its glass boxes full of interesting and exciting beasts.

The actual idea for the Calvariams series started after seeing an image of a pet cat skull. With its big eye sockets and teeth, it looked liked some kind of alien monster, and not some cute fluffy kitten. Intrigued I began looking at other animals skulls and became fascinated at the way different species looked in their afterlife..
The zoology department at the Grant university has the largest collection of animal skulls in the UK. They very kindly allowed me access and I cannot thank them enough as with out them this series would not exist.

As a photographer this project is very much about the striking visual form and textures of a skull as an object. But I soon became interested in the animals themselves and there genetic make up; For example, seeing the size of a crocodiles brain cavity, which is about the size of a peanut simply because it is a predator and does not need a large brain to function.
Several of the skulls in the project are from animals now sadly considered endangered or even extinct such as the Tasmanian Tiger. Although I have tried to keep the edit very much on a visual aesthetic, when you know something is no longer around or very rare, you kind of want it in the show..

The visual impulse for such a project was to shoot the skulls from the front or the side. But I had seen this many times before including Irving Penns wonderful Cranium Architecture series.
Choosing to to shoot the skulls from above was a bit of a risk as I was unsure how certain skulls would look having only seen them from the side and front in the museum catalogue. It can be tricky to go against your first instincts, but one thing I have learnt with landscape photography is that the best images are often not what your eyes see first.
I deliberately chose not to give any scale to the images so you could be looking at a skull which in reality only measures a few inches.

I like to think of the final images as being similar to Inkblots. They can be interpreted visually in different ways depending on the individual. 

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