The moment I read the title of David Garnett’s 1922 book, Lady into Fox, I was intrigued. It made no sense. Almost a mistake? I first read the book in 2009. A clear and crisp tale of a woman who turns into a fox. The physical transformation takes place within moments of beginning the first chapter. It’s a sudden and catastrophic shock for both the lady, and her husband. The pair, a gentrified couple strolling in the Oxford countryside in 1880, had only just married when the metamorphosis took place.
The book has stuck with me these past five years. Often sashaying into my thoughts at unlikely moments. Because, what at first seems a simple - if surprising - tale, is actually a thoughtful and inspired observation of the transformations beyond the obvious book title. The wife, now a fox, yet woman in mind, slowly but surely becomes the feral hunter to match her form. Her husband, horrified yet accepting of her form, can not accept her behaviour, from controlled and prim woman, to ravaging and frolicking wild animal.
Yet, as the pages turn, he finds joy in her freedom and in turn, becomes free himself. This story, to me is about becoming, physically and mentally, something that allows true acceptance of oneself.
I chose to photograph a place of unhealthy nostalgia to my family. The place we all hold so dear it hurts. The place we no longer lay claim to other than in our memories, cine films and photograph albums. The hut my Grandfather built, originally as a art studio, has been perched on a low hill, in a valley on the river Devon, Scotland for nearly seventy years.
As a adult, I wanted to live the landscape, breathe the streams and relish the air as a form of transformation of my own. To accept and smother, listen and soak, walk in the footsteps of my family, of myself as a child, to create something new from a landscape filled with hollow. Filled with something lost. To create something tangible and new and present. Something to take home.
From the foreword of Lady into Fox, republished in 2008...
“Transformation stories are the means by which we make sense of the world, how we see the connections that, ‘the materialisation of our age’ misses, and they belong to the universe that is ordered, not by reason alone, but by imagination, a universe in which change is the only constant”
John Burnside, foreword (2008), Lady into Fox by David Garnett (1922).
© Laura Hynd - Do not reproduce