It was an ideal trip to make in January: Winter, photographs by John Vere Brown, at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, timelessly depicts the transformative force of a single season. On display until the end of January, this series of silver bromide prints reveals an unknown aspect of Brown's oeuvre. Famous for his portraits of the British theatre between the 1960s and 70s, his documentation of British landscapes remains, for the most part, a hidden collection.
Winter comprises a continuous flow of scenery from the heart of the Peak District: the images' mono-tonality provide audiences with a panoramic-like view of endless hills and farmland - unpopulated and bleak in the midst of the coldest season. Through his camera, Brown captures the vast blankets of white snow which have been pulled into wave-like formations by prevailing the winds.
The snow - speckled-grey by the film's grain - merges into each scene's deep grey sky while barricading itself against the uneven stone-walls which litter the barren landscape. These man-made boundaries provide linear reference points by which to determine distance, depth and scale. These details, along with the sparse inclusion of trees and natural elements, are made evermore important against the backdrop of limitless snow-drifts.
Deep shadows are carved into the soft-ground by the low-lying afternoon sun, and a pond shimmers with sparks of light reflected on its rippling surface. We become aware of the sensual aspects of the elements as they gently caress the surface of the land after the onslaught of a vivacious snow-storm. Scenes of graveyards, hamlets and silhouetted bare trees enforce notions of coldness, isolation and loss: they become relics of former seasons with only the gleaming sun to nurture their structure in the present moment.
Brown's images are timeless: the snow conceals any mention of era, and the land - the Peak District - itself is a lasting entity that shifts with the seasons but not with the decades. Regardless of its vast geological history, it is unchangeable in the short-run - something which is reflected the display of a local's research into the locations of these untitled and undated scenes.
Winter, photographs by John Vere Brown (1925-2000), 25 November 2017 - 26 January 2018.
Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.