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Lord Charles March on His ‘Very English’ Abstract Photographs

COURTESY VENUS OVER MANHATTAN

COURTESY VENUS OVER MANHATTAN

In February, Charles March, the photographer and Earl of March and Kinrara, will host shows of his abstract works at both Hamiltons gallery in London and Venus Over Manhattan in New York, the latter of which opens tomorrow.

The works are eerie and streaky, shot in forests surrounding his family’s West Sussex estate, Goodwood. Lord March has spent much of his life as a commercial photographer, and would often go out to shoot the trees as a way of blowing off steam from the controlled shoots he’d stage at the house.

“Everything was unbelievably controlled,” he said over the phone recently, “and it would take weeks to do a single picture, everything was locked off. The camera was locked off at a a very early stage, it was totally inflexible. There was no daylight.”

So he found himself stepping outside when he could to walk amid the trees and shoot what he could. “We’re very lucky,” he said. “It was planted in the 18th century, most of it, so it’s pretty easy to go out and it’s right there. I’m constantly photographing, but I do photograph the same stuff over and over again.”

Lord March said he found the landscape “very English” and hoped a New York crowd will be able to enjoy them, though Adam Lindemann, Venus Over Manhattan’s owner, apparently said he didn’t want any photos where the trees or locations are recognizable. And as to the streaks? “I just shake the camera a lot while I’m taking it,” he said, over the second-long exposure. As with any photography, he said, dawn and dusk light tend to be the best.

Lord March’s photography career goes back to Eton, where he dropped out because he felt it wasn’t getting enough support. Shortly after that he somehow ended up working on the set of Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon (1975), an experience that naturally had some implications for this current project, but at the time he found more helpful on a philosophical level, simply because of the way Kubrick worked.

“If it got 2 percent better by spending 20 times longer on it, then you spent 20 times longer on it,” he said. “Seeing someone operate like that, and doing such extraordinary work was really inspiring.”

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