Martin Cox: Landed
Martin Cox has documented a home in transition for his project, Landed. It’s a house that has been in one family for seven centuries and the transience of objects and memories are shifting into new realities. His quiet and contemplative capture of features large and small document, not just a structure that represents a family history, but small tableaux that represent lives lived.
Born in the United Kingdom, Martin has photographed a multitude of forgotten landscapes: the desolate valleys evacuated in the wake of the collapsed Welsh mining industry, former resort towns at California’s Salton Sea, an ocean liner embedded in a town square in China, and an ongoing Queen Anne-era English canal project. Some of the projects explore of a vanishing maritime culture and inspire questions about past events while drawing upon the atmosphere of the present.
He has exhibited in galleries in London, New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles where he completed a commission for the Los Angeles Maritime Museum. Recently his work was shown at Photo LA with Sara Lee PROJECTS, and he has just completed a commission for the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department at Council field office. He is looking to make the LANDED series into a book project.
When I learned that an English country estate, home to one single family for over 700 years, was to be cleared of possessions and sold I knew I had to investigate. As with many of my photographic projects, a shift in time, a break from the past, the moment an era turns, it becomes a starting point for a visual investigation.
I arrived at the Haile Hall at the end of summer, at the end of seven centuries of occupation by the Ponsonby family. The first record of that name in relation to the property was in 1296, and the last resident, Lady Mollie Ponsonby, passed away in 2003. She left the house to her great niece who, after years of struggle to rescue the house from neglect, age and storm damage, was now selling the property and dispersing its contents.
The estate in the north of England had remained almost entirely un-photographed and unmolested by the outside world, despite the lives of some of its aristocratic inhabitants; soldiers, politicians, industrialists, members of the Royal inner circle.
What appealed to me photographically was to examine a private space so particular. The ancient house and landscape offered a vision of unparalleled consistency. Over ten days, I was able to investigate an extraordinary moment of upheaval as the layers of history are exposed. Part historic country seat, part building site, part ruin, the past is subtly revealed like strata in the bedrock curiously thrust skywards by some fault shifting deep in the land below.
The UK port of Southampton provided early inspiration and following studies at Winchester School of Art and Exeter School of Art and Design, his first exhibition was in London’s Camden Town. Cox now lives in Los Angeles.
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