For Autumn River, photographer Philip Brittan submerges himself and his camera in the currents of Bristol’s River Frome, capturing the movements of fallen leaves. Worn to colorful transparencies by the churning of the water, the leaves become abstracted blurs through which we can measure motion and the passage of time. They pass hurriedly across Brittan’s blurry frame, their veined bodies twisted and coiled like salmon swimming upstream.
Transcending the limits of the photographic medium, Brittan’s images adopt a painterly aesthetic, the leaves dancing like fluid strokes of watercolor. Beneath the surface of the water, the world above appears as an afterthought; carried forward by the leaves, we bid farewell to the stationary shore dotted with trees. At times, water droplets splash onto the camera’s waterproof housing, leaving an indexical mark that documents the wild, accidental whims of the river.
With Autumn River, Brittan hopes to remind us the power and astonishing beauty of the natural world. In spite of the environmental damage done by the last centuries, delicate ecosystems persist in magical, private realms rarely explored by the human eye.