AOH Artist Jo Hunt tells about photographing the pollution free night skies
Hi Jo – As we are beginning to take very tentative steps out of lockdown, it would be great to hear a bit about what you have been doing during the lockdown period. Can you tell us a little bit about the project you have been working on?
I have been out shooting the night skies of Sussex to see if I could capture clear views of the stars and The Milky Way. I am keen on astrophotography but have always taken these kind of shots abroad in destinations that are generally more isolated and pollution free. I don’t know if/how the weather and the skies are linked to the lack of pollution but somehow they have seemed very clear and big and empty. I felt inspired to try and capture this.
My imagery also attempts to encapsulate a sense of isolation through showing the enormity of the night sky. At the same time, I wanted to express a sense of global solidarity that I think has been felt throughout this pandemic. Stargazing is great for bringing perspective and reminding us of how small we are in the grand scheme of things which can be really helpful when everything feels as overwhelming as it has over the past few months.
Did the project come about as a result of seeing how the skies had changed during lockdown?
Yes, it really feels like the world stopped and nature took front of stage. I think also think that it gave ME a chance to stop and that helped me to see things with a fresh perspective.
Did you see or photograph other environmental changes happening as a result of the changing impact of people on nature?
I have also been shooting sunrise/sunsets in and around Lewes and the South Downs. The colours have been incredible! Again, probably as a result of the clear light and lack of pollution.
Will you continue to photograph the skies as we come out of lockdown and pollution begins to increase again?
Yes. I’d like to discover if Sussex is actually a good spot for stargazing at any time. I just hope we continue to get more amazing weather and less pollution going forward.
Do you feel there have been other benefits to you as a creative artist from the experience of lockdown and will it change the way you think and work?
I would normally be travelling and quite busy at this time of year but this enforced downtime has allowed me to slow down and take more notice of the beautiful landscapes right here on our doorstep. I think good landscape photography doesn’t come quickly. It is a slow meditative process. I’ve really valued this time to tune in with the elements and fine tune my observation of the natural world more.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
I hope to produce a series of astrophotography images over the coming year, which I’d like to exhibit as part of the AOH at my home in Lewes in 2021. Meanwhile, prints are available to buy on my website