CHARNWOOD FOREST : by Matthew Broadhead, The Rural Gaze


CHARNWOOD FOREST is a series of photographs made in Leicestershire. Tracing the steps of his third great grandfather Frederick William Broadhead, a British artist and photographer who visited the area on a number of occasions, Matthew reviewed his descendant’s depiction of the romantic medieval landscape of Charnwood forest and views of Ulverscroft Priory ruin and slate quarries in Swithland Wood.

The area is undulating, rocky and picturesque, with barren areas and extensive tracts of woodland, which are now part of The National Forest. Large swathes of the Midland’s landscape had been left scarred by centuries of coal mining and other heavy industry, which led to the establishment of The National Forest Company in 1995. Retracing his ancestors’ steps in the present revealed that many ancient features are persevered whilst irreversible changes made by sites of heavy industry came full circle through their transition into nature reserves and spaces for leisure.

Matthew Broadhead is a British photographer based in Southwest England (b.1994). In 2016, he graduated from the BA (Hons) Photography program at the University of Brighton and gained sustained recognition for his body of work A Space for Humans: The Moon on Earth. A Space for Humans was featured in The British Journal of Photography, Wallpaper*, The Exposed Issue 2 and Fisheye Vol 1.

Matthew has also been selected as a winner for awards from Magnum, Photoworks and Organ Vida. In late 2019, he graduated from the new MA Photography course at UWE Bristol with a new body of work titled The Sleeping Photographer. Matthew’s practice is an engagement with photography as a critical medium and explores conjunctions between different subjects, notably geology; anthropology; history; folklore and mythology.

Image Credit: by Matthew Broadhead

Copyright 2016 GRAIN.