Whitefield landscape photographer Tony Marple’s color photograph titled “Frozen Dinner Plates” – of jagged flat chunks of ice lined up like stepping stones across the surface of a body of water – evokes the work of British artist Andy Goldsworthy, who specializes in site-specific installations of carefully arranged natural materials such as ice, leaves, and rocks.
Another photo in Marple’s current show in the hall gallery at LincolnHealth’s Miles Campus hospital, “Trail to Musquash Pond,” works in a similar way with its quasi-concentric arcs of cracked, melting ice on leafy ground that remind the viewer of Goldsworthy’s environmentally focused art.
In Goldsworthy’s case, his subject matter is largely manipulated to create stunning scenes on beaches, in woods, and so on that he then photographs — outdoor scenes that are both natural and changed by the hand of the artist to draw even more attention to nature’s beauty.
In Marple’s case, he simply has a superb eye for the beauty that already exists in nature, without performing any artistic intervention prior to photographing his subject.
Marple, who until very recently served on the Whitefield Board of Selectmen, is an amateur photographer, but one would not guess that upon viewing his body of work in the Miles show. Marple’s choice of subject matter, his keen eye for composition, and his thoughtful, flattering presentation – including choosing to print certain photos on sleek aluminum as opposed to matting and framing them – is top-notch.
“Mount O’Hagan,” Marple’s large photograph of a grand mountainous scene in Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies – is printed on aluminum. With the feel of a painting, “Mount O’Hagan” greets the viewer as the first piece in Marple’s hall gallery show upon entering the hospital, its breathtaking fluffy white clouds, blue sky, and shadowed mountains inviting the viewer to dive right in.
Even more stunning and painterly is Marple’s “Endless Chain Ridge,” another large aluminum piece featuring the peach and gray-tone reflection of clouds in a glassy body of water surrounded by trees and mountains at what appears to be sunset. The silhouette of a split-rail fence in the foreground caps off the tranquil, away-from-it-all feeling this photograph evokes.
Some pieces, like “Frozen Nebula,” also on aluminum, are close-ups of elements of nature – in this case, of ice that has melted into an interesting pattern, reminding Marple of an interstellar cloud formation. Similarly, in “Clary Lake Geometry,” a tastefully matted and framed piece, Marple has zoomed in on the pattern of cracks in the lake’s surface ice, making for what amounts to an abstract painting of sorts, created by nature and documented by Marple.
“After a career in health care, I enjoy spending time working in the woods, in our garden, on our berry field, or hiking with a heavy camera hanging off my neck. After my first winter hike in the ’90s, winter hiking became the summit of my outdoor activity,” said Marple in his accompanying artist statement.
Marple’s hiking-with-camera adventures, which take him into some gorgeous places, result in some very fine photographs. One can only hope that Marple will continue to show his work at venues in Lincoln County – and beyond. It is easy to see how he will quickly make a name for himself as an artist if he does. His work is decidedly that good.
From his close-up pieces to his panoramic shots of beautiful natural scenes that make the viewer imagine how nice it would be to be there in person, Marple’s photographic work delivers on every front.
Marple’s photography exhibit runs through Friday, May 3. LincolnHealth – Miles Campus is located at 35 Miles St., Damariscotta.