On the Idle Hill of Summer by Joshua J Sneade
21 January - 3 February 2021
Like for so many others, the nationwide lockdown of March 2020 marked a challenging transitional period for Joshua J Sneade. His life and career were put on hold and for the first time in more than five years, he returned home to the county of Shropshire. Although initially feeling like a backwards step, the move allowed Joshua an opportunity to reconnect with the landscape of his youth. Spurred on by the restlessness of months indoors and inspired by the bucolic poetry of A.E. Housman’s A Shropshire Lad, Joshua set out to discover the beauty that the county had to offer.
Long walks became a daily occurrence and the rising temperatures of spring, combined with Houseman’s many references to water, led Joshua to discover a passion for wild swimming. As spring gave way to summer, and as lockdown started to ease, Joshua welcomed the chance to rekindle old friendships, too long neglected amongst the rigours of modern life. Together, he and a group of friends recaptured the spirit of a carefree youth as they uncovered the riches of the local landscape and the meditative properties of the region’s hidden waters.
On the Idle Hill of Summer is a documentation of those paradoxically halcyon days in the summer of COVID-19. Days spent in the pursuit of something that, just for a little while, could distract from the uncertain future of a world in turmoil. It is a celebration of the equanimity found amongst the unchanging stillness of the Shropshire Hills and in the cold embrace of rivers, lakes and quarries. Most of all, it is, in retrospect, a reminder to savour the smaller moments: the anticipation of poring over maps, tracing lines of blue ink; the satisfaction of the weary silence on the journey home; and the exasperation of the days spent looking out of the window, waiting for the rains to pass, promising to never again under appreciate the beauty of a sunset.
View Joshua's Silver Winning series in the AOP Emerging Talent Awards here
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Image © Joshua J Sneade