Tomaso Clavarino turns his gaze to nature and the quieter moments found in his home in the Italian countryside

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Through closely observing the particular nuances of the environment close to him, the photographer expresses the tensions and emotion that defined his lockdown experience

Bathed in the happy light of golden hour, the pictures in Tomaso Clavarino’s book are warm-hued and rich, depicting classy scenes of swaying grasses, rural paths and hanging fruit. People are present as well, appearing from time to time in the form of the hand or an equip. But mostly their presence is merely suggested through an arm or leg or a trace, no faces are seen. A palpable anxiousness builds throughout the edit too – emphasised by images of long shadows, woodland fires and snarling dogs.

Born in 1986, Clavarino grew up partly in Cocconato d’Asti, a small village in the foothills of the Piedmont region. “It’s the classical Italian countryside, ” Clavarino describes, “a rural area, along with woods, fields, red wine and also a peaceful atmosphere. ” This individual still thinks warmly from the place, and so when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, he still left the city and returned generally there. “I found myself in an exceedingly strange period, with the outbreak, the news of my girlfriend’s pregnancy and the loss of a loved one, ” he explains. He was overwhelmed, and looking for a safe place amidst the chaos. Home – where his parents still live – offered just that.

From the series Balland of Woods and Wounds, 2020 © Tomaso Clavarino.

All of the photos in the collection, titled Ballad of Woods and Wounds, were taken between March and May 2020, during Italy’s first lockdown. “I was interested in that which was surrounding me, and what might define the identity of this place, ” he recalls. “And so , I looked for moments in the garden, away from gate, in the house, and in the woods behind it. ” He took pictures of fractured rocks and sunburnt epidermis and anything else that intrigued him. “I was also exploring life at the time, so I wished to create an atmosphere that could represent the tension of the period we were (and still are) living in, ” he says.  

Prior to making this work, Clavarino travelled frequently shooting documented projects, but pandemic restrictions pushed him to view his world differently. Turning their gaze towards the quietest edges of his existence, he admits that, he discovered a new way associated with taking pictures, away from the direct purpose of his previous work. It was an exercise in letting go of plans, and figuring out how to make work “personal, but not self referential. ”

Published by studiofaganel , Ballad of Woods plus Wounds is also punctuated with abstract, line drawn pictures by artist Patrizio Anastasi that respond to the feeling of the photographs. Given the circumstances and challenges of the lockdown, the book was edited without those involved ever meeting.  

Clavarino has become preparing for an exhibition and book presentation at Leporello Publications in Rome, opening ’04 May. Following this, the work will be shown in a solo exhibition at Studio Faganel gallery in Gorizia, from mid-June.

tomasoclavarino. com

Joanna Cresswell

Joanna T. Cresswell is a writer plus editor based in Brighton. This wounderful woman has written on photography and culture for over 40 international magazines and journals, and held positions as editor for organisations including The Photographers’ Gallery, Unseen Amsterdam and Self Publish, Be Joyful. She recently completed a good MA in comparative literary works and criticism at Goldsmiths College, University of Greater london

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