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INTERVIEW

May 31, 2024

NATURE KNOWS NO PAUSE

Photography by Ann Petruckevitch
Interview by Melanie Meggs

Ann Petruckevitch is a photographer with an insatiable curiosity and a relentless pursuit of image interpretation through diverse techniques. With Diplomas in Photography from Brighton City College and Art and Design from The Arts University, Bournemouth, Ann’s artistic journey is guided by her quest to observe and shape visual contexts in unique and ethereal ways.

Ann’s approach to photography transcends conventional boundaries, as she seamlessly navigates between camera-less, film, and digital media. Her goal is not merely to capture images but to observe and form a distinct frame of the visual situation, in either vibrant color or timeless black and white. With a keen eye for detail, her observations explore the subtleties of the environment and their relationship to humanity. Ann visually interprets offbeat street scenes, conceptual observations of nature, as well as intimate studies of human life. Through her lens, Ann invites viewers to delve into the unseen details and contemplate the intricate connections between subjects and their surroundings.

In Ann’s hands, photography becomes a powerful tool for advocacy and introspection. In her ongoing project, “Nature Knows No Pause,” Ann draws inspiration from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's profound quote. “Nature knows no pause in progress and development and attaches her curse on all inaction.”

Ann captures the resilience of nature amidst the challenges of climate change. Each photograph serves as a reflection on humanity’s relationship with the natural world, and her use of one-word titles prompts viewers to engage in thoughtful reflection, inviting them to ponder the beauty and fragility of the world around them. Her work serves as a poignant reminder that, in the face of adversity, nature continues to evolve and thrive, echoing the timeless wisdom of Goethe’s words.

As we immerse ourselves in Ann Petruckevitch’s captivating imagery, we are reminded of the profound interconnectedness of all living things. She beckons us to join her on a journey of discovery and enlightenment, where the beauty of nature’s eternal pulse is celebrated and revered.

“Nature forms an integral part of one’s life, it is all around us, by definition it embodies the physicality of being part of this world. For me a deeper understanding of nature’s fragility and its ability to survive mirrors the vulnerability we feel every day as humans, respectively. We need each other to breathe and feel a sense of belonging and contentment. Being in nature commits oneself to an emotional state, whether it purveys a sense of wellbeing or fear. When I’m in nature I don't need to seek it out; it immerses me.”

IN CONVERSATION WITH ANN PETRUCKEVITCH

THE PICTORIAL LIST: Hello Ann, thank you for sharing your inspiring photography with us. Welcome to The Pictorial List! Tell our readers about yourself. What initially sparked your interest in photography, and how has your artistic journey evolved over time?

ANN PETRUCKEVITCH: My first exposure to photography was probably my mother’s Kodak box brownie when I was a child. At the time I think I was just fascinated by the shape, it’s wind on mechanism and the empty chamber inside. Additionally, I’ve always had a deep committed interest in cinema and its escapism and vision fueled my simmering creativity from a very early age. However, my real commitment to photography came much later, my traditional schooling choosing academic achievement over creativity, having had a mathematical career as a medical statistician until I retired in 2019. During my adult life I’ve always had a camera, but it wasn’t until I was in my 50s that I started to want to understand the technical side of it, literally getting my hands dirty in a photographic darkroom. I started with attending some local workshops and courses and my interest developed from thereon, taking time out of employment to do an intensive course at the Arts University in Bournemouth in 2010. The pure joy of an image emerging in a developer tray will stay with me always and the wealth of available photographic processes gives me a great sense of connection between my thoughts, via what I see, and the captured imagery.

TPL: Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe's quote serves as the inspiration for your project. What does this quote mean to you personally, and how does it influence your artistic vision?

ANN: Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe made a number of quotes about nature and was forthright about our connection with and ultimate dependence on it. ‘Nature knows no pause….’ exemplified for me the environmental chaos we find ourselves in now and in using it to describe my project concentrated my thoughts on visualizing the small changes nature undergoes in sustaining its seasonal existence. If we allow ourselves time to embrace the subtleties of nature, we have a chance to be at one with it so to speak, replacing destruction with restoration and responsibility. I’m hoping that the images I’ve presented give viewers the sincere opportunity to reflect and reform moving forward.

TPL: Your work often delves into the unseen details of the environment. How do you approach capturing these subtle nuances in your photographs?

ANN: Personally, I have a good memory for detail, and I think this is reflected in my photography. As I said, my love of cinematic visuals has informed my own visual development. When I’m out and about in nature or anywhere else for that matter, I’m always looking up, down, sideways and behind, absorbed in the moment. I take time and I go back to places, approaching my image capture more artistically considering the emotional impact that hopefully translates into the photograph taken, perhaps avoiding objectifying the subject matter, respectively.

TPL: How do you balance the technical aspects of photography with the emotional or conceptual elements when creating your artwork?

ANN: I would say that the technical aspects of my photography are a little intuitive, in the sense that I don’t dwell too much on what photography tools I carry with me. I very rarely use flash, filters, carry additional lenses or use a tripod. The emotional and conceptual intentions are always imperative to the works that I attempt to create and perhaps my confidence in ‘taking the shot’ stems from my heart and mind and not the technology to do so. Sometimes and just sometimes fortuitously you capture the true nuance of a scene, it’s the joy of change.

TPL: What role do you see photography playing in raising awareness about environmental issues such as climate change? What impact do you hope your photography will have on individuals’ perceptions and actions towards environmental conservation?

ANN: Any visual interpretation that examines the impact of environmental issues has got to be a worthwhile interaction. I fully appreciate the lengths that some environmental organizations and image makers go to ensure true stories are told again and again. I hope that my photography in this arena starts a conversation, critical appraisal or positive feedback, after all it’s only my interpretation and should be open to forthright discussion. The fact that someone ponders an image is a job done in my books.

Sometimes and just sometimes fortuitously you capture the true nuance of a scene, it’s the joy of change.

TPL: Can you describe a particularly challenging or rewarding moment you've encountered during a photography project?

ANN: Honestly, I can count on one hand the projects I have developed and been interested in since retiring from my real job. However, I have to say that a road trip along the A1 Princes Highway in NSW and Victoria in Australia after one of the worst bushfires at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020 that impacted 24 million or, so hectares of national parkland was particularly poignant. Challenging on the one hand to see and then capture images that truly represented the devastation, and rewarding, to arrive in the town of Mallacoota to see how its residents had come together to rebuild homes, businesses and in doing so their livelihoods, respectively.

TPL: What other photographers or artists have influenced you, and how? What impact have they made in the way you approach and create your work in photography?

ANN: I have to say the photographer Ernst Haas has had a considerable impact on my ways of seeing, he created some groundbreaking imagery for the time he was active. Alongside him, the artist Edward Hopper has also informed my visual take on landscapes and urban settings, and I could not forget the works of the film maker Terence Mallick, ‘Days of Heaven’ epitomizes for me visual sincerity and thought working alongside the cinematographer Nestor Almendros. There’s a real pattern emerging with all these artists very similar in their use of natural light.

Finally, a shout out to Denise Felkin, a Brighton visual artist and photographer who over a weekend course many years ago facilitated my point and shoot Olympus Camedia digital camera! It’s not the kit, it's what you see!

TPL: What is on the horizon for Ann Petruckevitch? Are there any new projects you would like to share with us?

ANN: I take a lot of single images when I’m out and about but more recently have been concentrating on the detail obtained using macro photography. With summer coming soon and the sun hopefully more evident in the sky I may go back to a more camera-less approach to image making or perhaps I’ll get out my 127 Box Brownie and take a risk on what I see and capture.

“Nature knows no pause…” is an ongoing project, and additionally, a project entitled “Eternal” which explores metaphorically the passage we move through as life progresses and remnants of our past are indelibly engraved in ours and our kinfolk's minds, respectively.

TPL: What is in your camera bag, is your equipment an integral part of your art practice? Is there anything on your Wishlist?

ANN: Not a lot, I don’t feel that my camera bag is empty, but I also don’t feel that it being full is an integral part of my artistic intentions. Presently, I’m using a Nikon DSLR camera with a 70 to 300 mm telephoto lens but that can change depending on the view. I also have a Canon full frame DSLR, and quite a few film cameras.

TPL: What role do you believe experimentation plays in the creative process, and how do you incorporate it into your photography? How do you approach editing and post-processing in your photography, and how does it contribute to the final message or aesthetic of your work?

ANN: Because I use a variety of photographic techniques such as camera-less approaches to image making there is a considerable experimental risk associated with it and using film to some extent is the same, especially when using a Holga medium format camera! Of course, using a DSLR gives you more access to getting the shot right, but I try not to seek perfection but a time limited observation. I don’t use a lot of editing and post processing, usually a more subjective approach in managing an image apart from when I'm creating composites.

TPL: When you are not creating art through your photography, what else could we find Ann doing?

ANN: I love walking obviously, I run to be solitary, and of course cinema and the arts in general are integral to my wellbeing and development. A work in progress methinks! Thank you.

Ann Petruckevitch’s photographic journey exemplifies the power of art to transcend boundaries and inspire contemplation. Through her diverse techniques and unwavering dedication to capturing the essence of her subjects, she invites viewers to explore the intricacies of the world around them. With her ongoing project, “Nature Knows No Pause,” Ann not only sheds light on the resilience of nature but also prompts us to reflect on our role in preserving it. As we immerse ourselves in her captivating imagery, we are reminded of the profound interconnectedness of all living things and the beauty of embracing the eternal pulse of nature. Ann Petruckevitch’s work serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of mindfulness and appreciation for the world we inhabit.

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