Autumn River


Hardback, foil debossed
Litho Printed
240mm x 330mm
96 Pages
44 images
170 gsm silk
Edition of 500, numbered and signed
ISBN: 978-0-9576314-4-1

Each autumn between 2012 and 2020 Philip J Brittan made images with some of the millions of decaying leaves that fall each year into the River Frome, in the southwest of England, and are carried along its length like brightly coloured jewels.

The majority of the images in the book Autumn River were made by moving into the flowing water. Inspired by the way Roger Deakin thinks about water in his classic book Waterlog, it is work that is not just about the river but also in, and with the river, with many images looking beneath the river surface, perspective, scale and colour are reconfigured. The work explores the unexpected ways in which light falls through the surface of the river and illuminates the stationary and travelling leaves, many of which have been worn thin and transparent. Leaves are reflected and distorted in a myriad of ways—a mass of intoxicating colours, intensified and blurred with movement; trees on the riverbank viewed through a multi-coloured haze.

The River Frome is a small and unremarkable river that runs for twenty miles through South Gloucestershire and the urbanised outskirts of Bristol. It is not, perhaps, a place where one would expect to find the wild or the beautiful. But it is there, and there in abundance. The work in Autumn River is evidence that we do not need to travel vast distances to find difference and strangeness in the landscape—opportunities exist all around us if we are attentive and know how to look. As the book Autumn River makes clear, to be in such a place in the northern hemisphere on a breezy day in late autumn can be mesmerizing, vital, life enhancing, with the colours appearing to fall from the very air itself. The colourful chaos that is autumn producing a canopy of glorious colour smeared by water and wind—a sensational natural firework display of the red, yellow and orange pigments of autumn leaves.

The book's full bleed design replicates the immersive experience of creating the images, standing in the flowing river, senses overwhelmed with colour and noise.

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