Riparian: a visual investigation of the landscape and ecologies of the riverbank

Jim Cooke

Research output: Non-textual outputExhibition


Between 2008–13 Cooke’s research has focused specifically on riparian landscapes and the ecologies bound up in riverbank life and growth. Returning to a recurrent motif of water and the natural and post-industrial landscapes that build on the work of Southam, Struth, Richter, and the literature and narratives of Keiller and Sinclair, Cooke’s research examines and documents the archetypal qualities of the rivers of southern England and northern France. He captures the re-envisioning of rivers and waterways as contemplative places of memory or spaces that are primarily colonised for leisure activities. Within this body of work, documented over a five-year period, Cooke examines the topographical perspective, and equally the ecological and botanical riparian microclimates and microscopic environments. This is allied to a process of close observation which brings a more clinical elemental studio environment to the field in order to cast an ‘objective’ spotlight on the plant life and reveal the unnoticed, the unseen and the unseeable at different scales and through the contrasting use of the microscope set alongside large-format landscape images. Suported by the Arts Council and a photographic award from the National Media Museum (2010),Ripariancomprises over 300 photographs and associated found objects, pressed plants and ephemera.Riparianwas shown and discussed with the geomorphologist Ken Coombe at the Drill Hall Gallery of the Portland Sculpture and Quarry Trust (2012). Individual images are also held at the Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York. This body of work has led to an invitation to present at the ‘Art and Water’ conference at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich in 2013, alongside Thomas Joshua Cooper, Susan Derges and David Williams.Riparianhas also been nominated for the prestigious Prix Pictet (2014).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2012
Eventexhibition - Drill Hall Gallery, Portland Sculpture and Quarry Trust, Dorset, 15th Sep - 24 Nov 2012
Duration: 15 Sept 2012 → …


  • Riparian
  • photography
  • river
  • marginal plants
  • microscope


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