Thomas Joshua Cooper is one of the most celebrated and distinctive landscape photographers working anywhere in the world today. He was born in California in 1946, of mixed Jewish and Cherokee descent, but has lived in Scotland for many years. He is the founding Head of Photography at Glasgow School of Art but spends much of his working life away from Scotland in the role of explorer, seeking out the edges of the world.
The capturing of any one image can involve months of preparation and arduous travel as the given location is first found on a map, tracked down and then photographed; each place the subject of a single 5x7 inch negative, taken with a weighty wooden field camera from 1898. They are meditative, almost philosophical images, hovering between abstraction and intense figurative detail, exquisitely hand printed by the artist in the late nineteenth century manner, with layers of selenium and silver.
Cooper’s travels have taken him from pole to pole, old world to new, but always between journeys he returns to his studio and dark room in Glasgow. Scotland is his home and, for the last 32 years, he has worked on a parallel project to his wider travels, chronicling his adopted land through the rivers that help to define its identity. Scattered Waters: Sources Streams Rivers is Cooper’s love letter to Scotland and presents some of the most beautiful and unexpected photographs that he has ever made.
A new 96-page hardback book with essay by writer Bella Bathurst has been published to accompany the exhibition.