‘Let the imagination of the world, find sanctuary in what we love.’

Oliver Barnett is a British photographic artist who was born in the UK and since 2007 has been living in Cape Town. Following his relocation, he quickly fell under the influence of the wild elemental scenery of the Cape, so stark in contrast to the English countryside.

What followed was a journey of artistic discovery and a growing wonder at the diversity and intelligence of the natural world. As an antidote to man’s destructive relationships with the Earth, his art practice became a healing and generative way to reconnect to older threads and ancient mythologies embedded in the land.

Oliver spends long hours exploring these natural places, using a camera and notably a macro lens, which perfectly captures the small details that corral his attention. He gathers together a collection of imagery, from powerful locations, ranging from the diversity of the Cape floral kingdom; the great African kelp forests and intertidal zones; and the craggy outcrops on Table Mountain. He photographs shapes, patterns and textures in nature that catch his eye. Studying these, he abstracts them into compositions, each with a unique lifelike appearance.

Much of his technique centres on layering and blending components of different photographic images until nascent life-forms emerge. He creates mirrored images of the natural world, which when reflected produce an almost organic Rorschach effect. These are layered with visuals taken from nature, depicting different planes of radial, rotational and spiral symmetry.

The images are often infused with symbolism, bringing catharsis, encouraging a relaxed and coherent mental state. In times when the busyness of life has become its own pandemic, it is his hope and intention for his work to offer a momentary portal of enquiry and calm for the viewer.

Since 2013, he has had 5 solo shows in The UK, Cape Town and Ibiza, most notably, ‘Small Gods’ in 2020, a large scale solo exhibition in the Cotswolds, curated by Flora Fairbairn, which saw works placed in some prominent collections and historical UK residences.