On the English side of the welsh border is the forest of Dean. It is an ancient place, once the hunting reserve of Kings. It is a forest of plantation and ancient woodland, of farm land, heathland, quarries and mines. Locally it is known as the Forest, and its inhabitants, Foresters.
There is an idea found in literary and pictorial Romanticism that to soften our confusion about what it means to dwell on the earth, we should endeavour to return to it in our everyday lives.
In this forest there is a collective desire among the inhabitants to maintain the ecological balance of their land. There are age-old rites and laws on land use that can only be upheld by a Forester, contributing to the foundation of their culture and collective memory.
Vorest considers the relationship between the narratives of the past and the environment in the present; a shift in perspective from the modern idea of ownership of land, to a more balanced relationship with it.
This work combines my own photographs with digitally-sourced aerial images and archival material found locally. It considers the land in detail, its topography, traces of past human activity and our role within it.
I grew up on the border of the Forest. In this landscape, I am both a Forester and an outsider. Through Vorest, I endeavour to better understand this land and our place within it.
Phillipa Klaiber is a long-form documentary photographer, who’s projects are rooted in our connection to the land, social identity and the human need to belong. Her most recent work, Vorest, is a meditation on the changing landscape of the Forest of Dean.
In 2019, Phillipa was shortlisted for the Film Photo Awards and GRAIN Bursary.