Mirroring nature Fraser Lawson’s photographs paint the Heath in a fresh light

Heath Trees No 1 Series

Heath Trees No 1 Series - Credit: Archant

The former Highgate School pupil exhibits his beautiful nature images at Avivson Gallery

Hellebore no 3 series

Hellebore no 3 series - Credit: Archant

Highgate photographer Fraser Lawson takes his images – often of Hampstead Heath – and transforms them into nature portraits which he calls ‘Distracturals’.

The ex-Highgate School pupil first picked up a camera as a teen, “relishing the ability to look through a lens and edit the world.”

For two decades, he produced TV commercials all over the world, and would take his camera along on shoots. But last year he started to find the advertising world “more and more challenging and not very good for my mental health”.

The antitode to a world he increasingly found fraught and edgy, was the “great peace and calm” he found on the Heath, photographing nature in all seasons.

“The Heath is the place I go to when anything is a bit much, it takes my mind off what is going on in my head. But with technology today, anyone can take good pictures. I thought ‘how can I change mine to make them different?’

“I discovered if you mirror them, they take on this ambiguity. It’s a backlash from advertising, instead of ramming messages down people’s throats you can look at something and make your own conclusions. When I show them to kids and say ‘what can you see?’ they say faces, animals. They all see different things.”

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Lawson hopes that amid the fears of the recent pandemic his images will help viewers “take a deep breath and calm down.”

“Distractural is a word I thought of when describing them – to be distracted by nature. There are times when I’d like to be instantly transported from my current mood, to be mesmerised and calmed by the sight of something familiar yet mysterious that reveals different facets each time I look at it. By giving natural objects a personality, people might be encouraged to stop and give them a second look, then find more to discover in nature itself.”

Fraser Lawson Distracturals – Nature Portraits runs at the Avivson Gallery, Highgate High St from Saturday June 20-30.