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This article is taken from PN Review 246, Volume 45 Number 4, March - April 2019.

Cover Story
Marc Atkins, ‘Orfordness’
Rod Mengham
MARC ATKINS is best known for his photographs of urban space, especially of London. But he has created an equally large number of landscape studies. As with the cityscapes, the environment in these images has been shaped twice over – once by the cumulative history of its use, and then by the artist’s response based on his reading of that use. In this image, the marshy foreground is supplied by Orford Ness, while the ghostly structure in the background has been transplanted from elsewhere. This spectral architecture is hauntingly beautiful but it also resembles a stylised mushroom cloud, looming over a vulnerable ecosystem used for over seventy years as a key site for military experimentation, including the testing of nuclear weapons. In all of Atkins’s photographic works, a mysterious intensity is achieved by subjecting the visible terrain to the pressure of an artistic vision. Few artists in any medium have rendered a critique of land use as powerfully and palpably as Atkins does with his camera.

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