Becoming a father made Dan Wood aware of his own ending. “I’m always looking to immortalise things”, he says, “mostly using photography. I have a fear of things being lost or forgotten”. His ongoing project Gap in the Hedge is a touching defence of the sentimental, nostalgically reflecting on a journey that he used to make with his mother as a child, and still does today.
The project is a study of place and family. Bwlch-y-Clawdd is a pass connecting the Rhondda Valley to Bridgend, in Wales. It weaves through rolling green and burnt yellow mountains, moves past pine forests, sheep, shrub and snow. The route was one he took every Saturday to visit relatives. “I was always very curious as a child”, he explains. “This journey was my first experience of becoming aware of things. I found myself asking questions like, ‘what’s in those forests?’ and ‘what’s behind that mountain ridge?’”
Many years later, when embarking on the project, he finds he’s asking these questions again. “As the series evolved I became particularly interested in the impression that man leaves on the landscape”, he says. He looks for evidence of that imprint everywhere, finding truck tracks in the grass, litter boxes up high, chairs in forests and Ephesians 6:12 from the New Testament written on a gate.
There is a mixture of spontaneous and planned photography, portraits and beautifully captured in-between-spaces. The photographer makes a discarded door and beaten up car look poetic. “What interested me”, Dan explains, “was the fact that some people were completely oblivious to the beauty of their surroundings, but some really embraced it”.
As both his parents and brother live on the other side of the pass, the photographer has always felt like a black sheep. The primary objective of this series was “to make a real connection with the area and seek some sort of acceptance into the family”, he explains. As Dan departs on this journey, he also travels back into the recesses of his memory, able to stamp it forever into his mind.