Following a successful exhibition at Bermondsey Project Space in London, in partnership with The Good Governance Institute, Tim Nathan brings his large format seascape photographs home to the Lucy Bell Gallery. Gareth Stevens reviews the show. 

The GGI Festival Director, Jaco Marais, says that “Tim Nathan provides the visual language for something the Good Governance Institute has long understood: that good governance is personal. It’s not just personal for people on boards who are directly involved with governance through their day-to-day activities and responsibilities.” 

When Tim Nathan experienced immobilising episodes of anxiety and depression in the closing months of 2020, he could see no way out of his demise. Unexpectedly, he was taken by an epiphanous urge to flip his script. By radically changing his daily routines and lifestyle choices from the ground up, he was able to hand craft his own escape route.

CREDIT: Tim Nathan

Without forethought, he began to take photographs on his daily seafront walks, and the resulting works developed into a series of very poignant images that simultaneously speak to us of both hope and despair.

When I commented to Tim that he often braved inclement weather to capture some of the more dramatic seascape photographs, he remarked that “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.” It occurs to me that just as you need to change your clothes to weather a literal storm, a sudden downturn in mental health requires a change in mindset to one that is more protective and as generative as possible.

The stillness and calm of these photographs provides solace for the troubled mind, and in taking them, Tim has found peace by portraying the impermanence and vastness of the ocean and the sky. The grandeur of nature on his doorstep provided an exquisite metaphor for his pain and his joy, in much the same way as it did in the Romantic tradition in painting.

The works are the visual expression of the stoic way in which he fought his way back from the brink and found a still place from which to command his restlessness.

The beautiful yet brooding cloud formations in Nathan’s photographs are inherently moving – but why is this? Is it that they symbolise the unavoidable grace of impermanence? Do these images encourage us to lean into the only thing we can be sure about in this life? – that nothing stays the same and everything must pass. 

One reason why these photographs have engaged so many people is that they provide points of communion. When we look at them, we share Tim’s hardship and gain some relief in knowing that we have all faced challenges during the pandemic. To look at these photographs is, in many ways, like looking into a mirror. They provide comfort in that they remind us that we are not alone when we struggle. 

The exhibition ‘Flip The Script’ by Tim Nathan is at The Lucy Bell Gallery in St Leonards until 15th October.

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