Pure laine d’Écosse – Patrick Blin

Today, counting sheep is no longer a way to fall asleep. Counting sheep is above all a call to do all we can to preserve their habitat, their diversity, their very existence. Our society has become Uberized and digitized, but this “progress” forgets in its wake the impact it has on other living beings. And if we are trying to find a better balance between the injunction to modernity and the preservation of nature, the latter seems far from being achieved.

With Pure laine d’Écosse, photographer Patrick Blin sends out a cry of love to this precious, fragile world that human activities are constantly endangering. Through his portraits of sheep “as proud as lions,” he draws our attention to the temperament of these animals with their haughty, vigorous head carriage, and invites us to observe them, season after season, in the exercise of their insolent freedom, characters inseparable from these Scottish landscapes that have remained wild and rebellious, where peat is combined with autumn, ferns with spring and heather with summer.

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24 Giorni rimanenti
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Paris, Francia
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Over 40 photographs taken in Scotland throughout the seasons. Sheep with a singular bearing, captured in their natural setting. Spectacular landscapes, and a low-angle view of these proud animals.

An original artistic approach to which many people are sensitive. This book answers a repeated request from photography enthusiasts hoping to see this series finally published…


Our relationship with animals and the wild world is being questioned more than ever, at a time when we are witnessing an unprecedented decline in biodiversity, and when the tangible consequences of our modes of production and consumption are being deplored more and more every day.

In contrast to apocalyptic narratives about the end of things and the world, Patrick Blin’s images are an invitation to reassure ourselves about the possibility of a true balance between man and animal, between the natural landscape and that shaped by man. It’s a way of stepping sideways to apprehend, in mirror image, our own place within environments that are all too often mistreated.

Diving into his images is an unsettling experience of abyss and a return to the poetry of childhood, when we too were enamored of the fresh mountain breeze, incandescent with freedom.

Here, the photographer becomes one with the natural world around him. He leads us to contemplate an animal that is emblematic of a territory that has remained wild, whose landscapes offer spectacular views.

This book is a gateway to a quest for authenticity. It awakens our own capacity to look at animals differently… especially when they are as rebellious as they are reassuring.

 

The photographer & the genesis of the book


Passionate about photography and ornithology from a very young age, Patrick naturally photographed “his” first birds at the age of 16. His parents bought an old farm in the Vosges, the teenager is bored and he wanders the landscapes and forests that surround him. It is there, in this authentic rurality, that everything takes root.

After a career in management and seventeen years dedicated to Paramount Studios, Universal and Dreamworks, he decided in 2008 to make his passion his profession, and became a professional photographer. As a still photographer, he accompanied Nicolas Vanier to Yakutia (eastern Siberia) on the filming of “LOUP” and produced personal work on wolves, reindeer and the Evenes people. His photographs were then featured in numerous magazines.

In 2011, Patrick Blin and his partner Marie combined their talents and skills to open their first art gallery in Montfort l’Amaury then Paris, dedicated to photography. At the same time, they created an art print laboratory and a photography studio. In 2012, Patrick Blin published his first book “Sur la terre des loups” with Editions de La Martinière, and in 2014, they published with Marie a second book, “La vie en rose”, on pink flamingos.

It was in 2015 that he began this “Pure Laine d’Écosse” series dedicated to sheep. In his Scottish landscapes, the reminiscences of his childhood seem evident: the unconditional respect for animals, the passion for the great outdoors, the love of the landscape, whatever the season.

And to celebrate the freedom embodied by these emblematic sheep, echoing the famous Goat of Monsieur Seguin by Alphonse Daudet, Patrick Blin composed texts like songs to call for sobriety, for life far from cities, for peace. A call to life in the great outdoors, among sheep…

 

An instinctive photograph


Landscape photography or wildlife photography? Neither one nor the other, but both at the same time. Patrick Blin’s posture is to magnify the animal, to place it, through the use of a low angle, above man. Change our view of the beast, move it from the status of livestock, when we look down on it, to that of a living being in its own right, as soon as we accept it to modify our point of view.

By choosing an assertive viewing angle, the aim is to restore its letters of nobility to an animal perceived in France in its strict “productivist” dimension, reduced to the notion of docile herds and delivered to the mercy of men, slaughtering for the meat industry.

During his solitary walks, Patrick Blin refined his photography practice in Scottish settings sculpted by light. Autumn, it changes summer with the growth of heather, then sparkles on the immaculate snow of winter, when, in spring, the skies play with the irruption of the sun to give even more character to the landscapes, at the moment of shearing (end of May, beginning of June) and you have to look for the sheep wherever they graze and chew the cud.

This book is a time given to contemplation, to silence, far from the hustle and bustle of the world. Connected to the elements, he considers that the image comes to him rather than summoning it, leaving plenty of room for the emotions born from what he sees. His instinct and sense of context do the rest.

Why Scotland?


Scotland is a territory unlike any other, from the Highlands to its islands. With just one look, we immediately recognize the rain, the wind, the clouds, the stormy skies, the rugged landscapes, the color of the stones, the lights, characteristics of this Scottish land. It is not for nothing that Scotland is the first country in the world to bring together 13 UNESCO sites in a single itinerary…

A country where any human presence seems absent: no low wall, no fence to demarcate the fields, the sheep snort without limit; no electric wire to distort the view, the gaze only focuses on the horizon, it only stops when it crosses the path of a sheep. There, man did not intervene in shaping the landscape, it was the sheep who shaped the natural meadows and gave their shape to the Highlands. It is this rusticity that seduces and captivates.

Why sheep?


Paradoxically, no photographer seems to have been interested in sheep. Neither the Scottish photographers of the 19th or the first half of the 20th century (even landscapers, they documented countries other than their own, like J. Craig Annan or John Beattie), nor Martin Parr (Martin Parr: Think of Scotland), neither Raymond Depardon (Glasgow in 1980), rather attracted by the social and urban aspects of the country, nor the great Scottish photojournalist Harry Benson.

However, Scotland is a great land of livestock, and the sheep an icon and an emblem of the country, so much so that, in the Highlands, sometimes renamed “Sheepland” (the country of sheep), we find more sheep than human beings.

How to photograph sheep?


Photographing sheep means looking for their different singularities, being in a state of vigilance to be ready to shoot when they are not ruminating, the sun appears, and around a bend a new landscape or a look is discovered. changing.

The animal is close to man, it is not frightened by his presence, it is not necessary to lie in wait. It is so anchored in its territory that in reality it does not care about humans. The photographer’s job remains, as always, to find the right distance to avoid escape. Because if the sheep is serene, it is nevertheless alert. You have to capture the moment (5 seconds at most) when he is neither grazing, nor ruminating, nor sleeping…

 

The prefaces:
Yann Arthus-Bertrand
& Peter May


>> Yann Arthus-Bertrand produces work that pays homage to the beauty of the world and calls for us to fight for its preservation. If his photo book The Earth seen from the sky was a global success in the 1990s (3 million copies sold in 24 languages), it is his documentary films – Planète Océan, Human, Woman – and his photographic exhibitions, notably shown within its Good Planet Foundation, which, today, are the instruments of its militant action for renaturation, for more sustainable agriculture through agroforestry and permaculture, for protected biodiversity and techniques of agriculture that respects living things.

In 2009, he was appointed “Goodwill Ambassador” of the United Nations Environment Program. In 2006, he entered the Academy of Fine Arts. He is Commander of the Legion of Honor, Commander of the National Order of Merit and Commander of Arts and Letters.

“Through each image we can feel the textures, the smells, the scents, the freshness and the humidity of these timeless landscapes, almost unreal and so special from the north of Scotland. (…) Each of them renews the feat of astonishing us, not by showing us distant landscapes or rare animals, but within us revealing the simple beauty of a world that is close to us.”
Yann Arthus-Bertrand
Extract from the preface

>> Born in 1951 in Glasgow, Peter May was a journalist, then a brilliant and prolific screenwriter for Scottish television, before devoting himself to writing. In The Man of Lewis, mysterious, majestic and wild Scotland was this dream setting which served as the setting for this novel published by Actes Sud in 2014. His latest work, A Winter Grave, is a dystopia which projects us into 2051 at a time when the planet must face its submersion by water or unbearable heat for humans.

His ecological concerns, his ability to capture the soul of Scotland and its peers and to grasp all its nuances, combined with his ability to describe the most picturesque landscapes, make him an essential signature of the country’s cultural panorama. , even if the writer now lives in France. For several decades, the photographer and filmmaker.

“Patrick Blin has captured this landscape and its bleating inhabitants perfectly in his stunning collection of photographs. They reveal the Highlands of Scotland in all their colour and majesty, a brooding landscape characterised by moors and mountains, wilderness and sheep. A book to keep handy and refer to often for a true taste of Scotland.”
Peter May
— Extract from the preface

The photobook: a large space for landscapes photography


Format 24 x 34 cm – portrait
112 pages, hardback
More than 40 color photographs
Texts: Patrick Blin
Graphic design: Stéphane Hette

Hemeria


In case of success of the crowdfunding campaign, the edition of the book will be handled by Hemeria publishing house. Hemeria supports photographers who engage in long-term projects and who are committed to defending the preservation of the living world. After welcoming the work of photographer and marine biologist Laurent Ballesta in 2020 with his « Planète Méditerranée » and that of animal photographer Laurent Baheux (Elephant, 2021), the publishing house will happily welcome Patrick Blin’s project, and thus continues to participate to the essential work of reflection on the challenges of building a better balance between man and animal, and paying homage to the nature that surrounds us.

Events planned for 2024


>> Launch exhibition within the BLIN plus BLIN gallery in Paris (October)
>> Exhibition at the Montier-en-Der International Wildlife and Nature Photography Festival (November)

Rewards Available


A4 art print photo. Signed and numbered. 5 copies only by image. 179 € instead of 239€ (-25%)

 

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