British artist Frances Kearney is due to open a new exhibition consisting of large-scale photographic works, a Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery touring exhibition presented by University of Hertfordshire Galleries at the Museum of St Albans. Entitled Running Wild, the show is described by University of Hertfordshire:
Immaculately choreographed and featuring young girls, these works explore the artist's interest in landscape (and its depiction in art) and the collapse of children's engagement with nature. All of the photographs are staged outdoors and all were made in East Anglia.
Kearney recognises a disconnection with our surroundings and what she believes is an increasing fear of the remote outdoors as successive generations lead more interior-based lives – on computers, phones and via the internet – and parents become more nervous of children playing out of sight. In contrast, the girls here are empowered by the spaces and places they inhabit.
In odd post-industrial locations that are carefully selected, girls are seen absorbed in their activities – some mundane, some more mysterious. The complexity of the image lies in the many ways we can read the immediate past and future of these captured moments – vulnerability, concentration, solitude, and play.
Kearney questions the speed of modern life and rapid circulation of information, our loss of the ability to live in 'real time', and the irony of the remote landscape on the one hand made 'accessible' and yet more distant than ever, given our inability to exist within it. She asks: 'Will the next generation be one of nature deficit disorder?'.
Within this dialogue is the fear cited as the artist's initial motive in developing the work; the fear parents have in allowing their children out of sight – to roam and to be free in the landscape and thus to live out essential experiences. Children are rarely allowed to get lost which Kearney views as the beginning of finding oneself.
In developing this new series Kearney says 'I am intrigued to create works that challenge our notions of fear, with how we conquer this notion of fear, with how we escape'.
The exhibition will be available to view between 29 May and 12 July 2015 at Verulamium Museum, St Michaels Street, St Albans, Hertfordshire, AL3 4SW. Gallery Opening Times are Monday to Saturday 10.00am – 5.00pm, and Sunday 2.00pm – 5.00pm. Admission Free. You can find further details at the Museum's website.