PHOTOGRAPHER & PROJECT PROFILE - OCTOBER 2007
Spirit of the Land is a personal project by Zambia-based photographer Stephen Robinson. He is a professional photographer with over 25 years experience in photography in Africa, operating from his Zambia base. He has specialized in nature photography including wildlife, environment, ecology, conservation and landscape work. He also undertakes photography assignments in the commercial and industrial fields, including the production of photography-based communications and advertising publications.
During his many years of travelling to remote locations in unknown Zambia, he found himself repeatedly making the same mental note: "must come back and do the landscapes". Many years later, the current Spirit of the Land project arose from this ambition. His personal gallery features a selection of this project work.
The Spirit of the Land project aims to document the landscape of Zambia, especially its unknown and remote landscapes, in a distinctive style. For this, the photographer chose the panoramic format, which he believes better replicates the way the human eye explores and takes in a scene. The photographs are therefore presented just as they were viewed in-camera by the photographer's eye full frame, without selective cropping or enlargement. In so doing, he aims to give the viewer some idea of the "feel" of a landscape; and of the emotive power the natural landscape has over the human eye.
The initial work in the project was premiered in two major one-man exhibitions in 2005 and 2006 entitled Spirit of the Land and African Spring. The latest work in the project is on the subject of amenshi [water]. This features the two major river systems that arguably make Zambia the most important source of fresh water in Southern Africa - the Zambezi Basin System and the Congo Basin System. An exhibition of this new work was premiered at another major exhibition in 2007. As with the previous exhibitions, this was hosted and supported by the French Government via the Alliance Francaise de Lusaka.
Over 3500 people have visited these Spirit of the Land exhibitions, and many others have visited various smaller project shows, collective art exhibitions and gallery shows at which the work has been shown. The exhibitions have been met with an overwhelming response and considerable interest in limited-edition fine art prints of the photographs. The most frequent response from the exhibition-goers is: I didn't know Zambia had this.
In recent and future Project work, the central theme of landscapes is extended to include photography illustrating the peoples of remote Zambia. Here the photographer gives his impressions of how closely the day-to-day survival of many remote populations is dependent on the fragile natural resources and environments depicted in the landscapes.
The photographer seeks to increase awareness of the unknown but stunning wild places that Zambia has - and to emphasize the need for real action on the environment to save both it and the livelihoods of the millions who depend so directly on it.
The project website was launched in January 2006. This on-line exhibition of the work has been visited by over 40,000 people from all regions of the world. Visitor use and feedback has shown that the website has become (although unintended) a global resource for educational use and for the promotion of Zambia in both the travel and tourism and the development and investment fields.
The project continues as new work is added from all parts of Zambia.
Spirit of the Land website