Snow Fire (Winter solstice fire circle) Rockingham Forest, England 2009. Monochrome edition

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Date of work: 18 December 2009

Notes about the picture.

“Snow Fire” is from an ongoing personal project first started in 2006 called Drawn to Fire. A collection of ritual fire drawing and photography.

Performances around campfires in remote locations explore the mark-making potential of light in the darkness, the elements and the senses.

Using fire as paint artist Kenny Martin takes us on a spiritual journey into the sublime, to discover a sense of peace and place at one with nature.

“The practical work of gathering dry sticks in a circle, building a small campfire and setting up camp alone became a familiar process that calmed my mind and nourished me. That whole experience of detachment centred me into the immediate priorities of the now and my commitment to stay overnight in the location come what may.

The primary aim was to witness the changes within the location and to stay warm enough to enjoy the camping and last the night. The creative aim was to capture the subtle variables of firelight, moonlight and star light through photography.

Waiting, observing the location for  compositional alignments to present themselves; the balance of say a tree and the fire and the moon. I would then prepare the camera, fire the shutter and make my intuitive mark-making, my abstract-expressionistic painting with fire.

The making of every photograph, every fire brush mark, accidental and intentional is included and contained within the resulting image. Each photograph invites the viewer to the ritual space, a photovisit, a glimpse into the evening in the woods for the length of the long exposure time capsule.
“Snow Fire” was a 60 second time capsule.

The photographs “are the residue of performance” (J.Steventon) from my overnight experiences. Using this immersion in the now, being on my own helped open a portal within myself.

As a rule there were never mobile phones used in the woods, no external distractions from others to influence the evening. Looking back I am very thankful that my creative curiosity lead me back into the woods, to reconnect with primal fire and directly experience the elements and the senses first hand.

I am thankful for the experiences and many of the photographs in the Drawn to Fire collection are the most memorable I have ever taken.

They offer a glimpse revealing a sensitivity for colour, tone, rhythm and balance of forms, results of my fine art photography explorations and experiments.

The universal OM.
18 December 2009
The Drawn to fire works combine my passion for bushcraft, camping out at night creating performance-based light works captured using long exposure photography.
This image was two years in the making from when I first had the idea of capturing fresh wind blown snow up the scots pine tree trunks. It took that long for snow to fall. I visited the site 3 days before and I was too late. The snow had gone. A fresh flurry of snow came and I knew I had to capitalise on it. I had used the location and camped there previously on dozens of occasions – trespassing in the local woods on the castle estate.
The fire was made using friction firelighting and it was the first time I had successfully started a campfire using this technique in snow conditions.
60 circles in 60 seconds at f2.8 / iso 80 resulted in the stunning fire wheel image presented here. My bodily articulations and actions recorded my performance playing with fire; capturing the performance with long exposure photography. My right arm felt sore for a few days after like it had been pulled out of its socket and the ligaments stretched beyond comfort.
The picture was originally taken in colour but for me the monochrome edition better presents my memory of the art making experience as it was extremely cold and on this rare occasion I did not camp out all night in the woods in my bivi bag.
A point of interest for me is one of my fire brushes leaning up against a tree to the left of the fire circle covered with fresh snow. I would leave sticks leaning up against tree trunks so they would dry out ready to be used as “fire brushes” the next time I passed through. The performances that evening were recorded using a 2 camera set up on a low tripod; this print was taken by a Casio EX-P700 digital camera with a sharp Canon lens. My Zeiss Ikonta 6×6 cm medium format film camera was loaded with Fuji Velvia 100 slide film, the lens a razor sharp Opton-Tessar f3.5.


Drawn to Fire

Site-specific, intuitive light interventions around hobo campfires to challenge my art photography and bushcraft skills.

Additional information


50cm x 70cm, 19.7inches x 27.6inches, 80cm x 103cm, 31.5inches x 40.7inches, 40cm x 50cm, 15.8inches x 19.7inches, 30cm x 42cm, 11.7inches x 16.5inches, 21cm x 30cm, 8.3inches x 11.7inches, 25cm x 30cm, 10.0inches x 12.0inches, 28cm x 35cm, 11.0inches x 13.8inches, 59cm x 84cm, 23.4inches x 33.1inches, 42cm x 59cm, 16.5inches x 23.4inches


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