Harry Merriman 'The New Wilderness' Full Interview

What is The New Wilderness about? What themes does it have and what message do you feel it conveys to the audience?

The New Wilderness is about the world that we now inhabit in the 21st century. Nature is now so infused with manmade elements that is there such a thing as the ‘wilderness’ anymore?   

The photos have quite a dark element to them, with light drawing the viewer to particular areas in the shot - What was your motivation in taking this direction?

Taking images at night that are lit by street lights the world takes on a lonely and unnatural appearance which isn’t noticeable during the day. I considered what our environments look like now they’re lit 24/7 and no longer ‘wild’ or ‘untamed’.  

In your artist statement it says: "Using photography and moving image, Merriman seeks to capture the modern landscape that surrounds us" - Tell me more about this and how you use it in The New Wilderness?

In this project I used photography to capture the smaller moments and details of landscapes and moving image to capture an entire area over a period of time. Both mediums do something that the other can’t and I tried to pair them together to create an overall experience that only using one couldn’t fully achieve.    

Adam and Eve are also quoted in your artist statement:

Eve: “So this is your new wilderness?...”

Adam: “...Everyone left”

What role does this "conversation" play in the project?

This quote is taken from the 2013 film ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ which is about two lonely Vampires living in the abandoned suburbs of Chicago. It just really summarized this project up the best where like a couple of wild animals their ‘hunting ground’ had become a manmade landscape of concrete and bitchumen. 

Why did you choose to participate in the Contact Sheet 12-Month Mentorship program? Where was your mind artistically before signing up?

I chose to participate in this program because my goal is to become a working artist and to do that I think I need to engage in every available opportunity to not only grow as an artist but absorb as much advice from people who have much more life experience than myself.

What are some of the biggest highlights from your mentorship?

Beginning a new project is always a highlight and knowing that you are working towards final show with a number of fellow artists is definitely exciting. Also working through the images and videos you have made over the course of a year to create a body of work is certainly something which consistently be a highlight.

Were there any challenges you needed to overcome during the 12 months and if so how did you get through them?

Finding a theme or idea to initially start the project was definitely one of the hardest things for me. You just have to start taking images or videos and then get feedback or be able to critically analyse your own work to get past these initial problems. 

Where would you like to take your art in the future and has Contact Sheet helped you at all with this?

Moving forwards with my art I am about to undertake a Masters in Fine Arts and will continue to pester artists for information.