Barnaby Kent : All People Are Like Grass

Barnaby Kent

Barnaby Kent’s work looks at the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic as marked by the coinciding of ‘lockdown’ with spring. Throughout the pandemic we witnessed the annual seasonal cycle and were more aware than ever of the essential need for access to nature. Barnaby’s work focusses on the intrinsic relationship between nature’s health and our wellbeing.

All People Are Like Grass
by Barnaby Kent

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Artist Statement [read more]
“Horticulture is what happens when two creative energies meet, human creativity and nature’s creativity.” (Stuart-Smith, n.d.)

This dichotomy encompasses “the emotional, physical, social, vocational and spiritual aspects of life”(Stuart-Smith, n.d.). Horticulture also familiarises us to the impermanence of life – to witness that change is inevitable. And it offers an opportunity to nurture life, from seed to fruit and back to seed. As humans we have an inherent affinity with other natural organisms so by harmonizing with nature’s cycle we share in an ancient therapeutic legacy, that through the soil we simultaneously transcend time and acknowledge its boundaries.

The initial experience of the COVID-19 pandemic was marked by the coinciding of ‘lockdown’ with spring. We witnessed the annual seasonal cycle as the mornings become lighter and the evenings longer but, given the backdrop of a global pandemic, the blossom seemed brighter and the birdsong louder. As the economy fell into recession daily global CO2 emissions fell, conventional working hours stopped, daily routines were replaced by daily death tolls, life as we knew it paused, and spring bore a richer focus as a stabilising source of certainty found in the renewing of nature.

The pandemic has made us aware of the essential need for access to nature and has highlighted the socio economic inequalities of readily-available green space. There is an intrinsic relationship between nature’s health and our wellbeing and we have discovered that a patch of grass, although desirable, is not as enriching and restorative of health as a more biodiverse garden.

‘All People Are Like Grass’ is a response to this relationship between humans and nature, seen through horticulture during lockdown when nature offered a fundamental companionship to humans. It explores the meeting of human and nature’s creativity by capturing isolated domestic interactions. This series of photographs manifest as an allegorical expression of personal experience, and a reflection on the solace individuals have found in horticulture during COVID-19.

Stuart-Smith, S., n.d. The Well Gardened Mind. 1st ed. William Collins, p.Audiobook Chapter 1.


Read more about the artist [read more]

Barnaby Kent is a photographer based in Birmingham. He has an MA and BA in Photography from Birmingham City University and Brighton University respectively. Barnaby has had work published in The Guardian, It’s Nice That, Intern Magazine, Paper Magazine and Resource Magazine. His work is award winning including the Magnum Photos' Graduate Photographers Award, VSCO ‘Best of 2014’, and Finalist for Magnum Photos’ & Ideas Tap’s ‘Save The Children campaign’.


Image Credit: All People Are Like Grass, Barnaby Kent

Copyright 2016 GRAIN.