Working with drawing, painting, text, film and photography in forms that seek to create parallels between the experiences of landscape and those of recording and representation, Punton’s work is informed by a longstanding interest in the history of mountain and polar exploration and through the artefacts, images and literature of exploration, memoir and scientific document. Her work is primarily focused upon how we experience and interact with wild landscape and how the prolonged gaze and an active, physical engagement with place might alter and deepen our relationship with the land.
Punton is a prolific mountain walker and her work portrays landscape not simply as a thing to passively view and admire, but as something to be with and to be a part of. This new body of work is primarily concerned with the stretching out of two different experiences of time – lived-time (whilst walking, where an awareness of time passing, twilight, and the rhythms of the seasons are made tangible); and the deep time of geology (where time stretches out in ways difficult to imagine on a human scale). These interests are most evident in the works Last light, first light (2018) images taken ritualistically that record the last light of the last day of the year, and the first light of the first day of a new year and in Collection (2018) a vitrine displaying a series of rocks found in various locations, ranging from pieces of galena found in lead mines in Scotland where the radioactive isotope strontium was first discovered; a remarkably heavy lump of ore picked up from one of the world’s deepest iron ore mines in the north of Sweden and a tiny fragment of a meteorite that landed in China in the 18th century.
The title of the show “Below, the rocks plunged into darkness” comes from WH Murray’s book Mountaineering in Scotland written secretly whilst in a German prison camp during World War II from the memories that he held and that sustained him during his capture. Punton’s work emphasises the value that can be found in a slow, quiet, respect and care for such places and how they might help us begin to understand ourselves.