Caught by the River


2nd April 2023

Take a glimpse inside William Arnold’s ‘SUNSPOTS’ — a photographic study of the ritual landscapes of Cornwall and the Outer Hebrides.

Newly published by Bare Pipes Press, SUNSPOTS, by the artist-photographer William Arnold, is a carefully edited long-term photographic study of the ritual landscapes of Cornwall and the Outer Hebrides — two peripheral areas of the British Isles, which in many ways have been over-romanticised and marketed beyond meaning. The work set out to make a somewhat detached and objective view of these distant yet often strikingly similar places, one in which the author is a life-long resident, but ends by concluding that drama and ritual is inescapable here, whether it derived from a 1970s Polytechnic, a remote and ancient society, or a present day megalith spotter with a fetish for mid-late 20th Century topographic photography.

In the book’s introductory essay, titled ‘Mortal Remains’, Val Williams writes:

‘In fundamental ways, Arnold both insists on the antiquity of the places he photographs yet at the same time insisting that the signs and symbols of ancientness become contemporary, and as one with the objects that exist beside the standing stones and ancient configurations of land. It is very much, he seems to insist, a question of meaning — the sentience which we give the inanimate signs of history around us, whether an abandoned tractor, a battered car, or a relic of antiquity. The landscape, William Arnold acknowledges, is infused with histories, both ancient and modern, that no-one fully understands. Photography acts as an identifier, sometimes an interlocuter, creates an expose of riddles, facts that we stumble upon in the distracting mists of time.’ 

William is an artist-photographer interested in the layers of human and natural history that comprise the making of the landscape, and the role played by the photograph in documenting time and change — the subjective and objective politics of places and their histories. Follow him on Instagram here.

Copies of SUNSPOTS can be purchased here (from £20 with free UK postage).