Raymond Moore is not a household name but arguably Britain’s greatest landscape photographer. He created a unique personal response to the coastal landscape of NW England and SE Scotland. Pictures that seem at first so drear and commonplace, contain quiet beauty and humour, revealed by Moore’s intense looking and complex compositions. Deeply influenced by poetry, Moore was a poet of the camera, whereby he composed visual poems from the objects and textures of ordinary places.
I have a limited edition photogravure print of Ayr 1979, which has become a favourite of mine. What strikes first is a dagger of light shooting across the picture from the left, within an angry sky bearing down on the horizon. In the foreground is a stained concrete floor. The shaft of light is the sea, catching sunlight burning through the cloud, the land around in shadow. Then gradually we see that the distant landscape merges imperceptibly with a roughcast wall; we are actually looking inside a room, maybe a deckchair store or shelter. We are looking through a window and the landscape is a reflection: the sunlit sea is behind us. We peer deeper into the room, cold and empty, aching with melancholy. The composition is immaculate, with drainpipe, air vents, roof truss etched onto the evening sky. But the final surprise is Moore himself, in glasses, in profile just visible on the right of the frame. This is an emotional landscape; Moore says he always had to feel something in his photographs. But this is first and foremost about looking, by a photographer who saw disparate elements falling into place.
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