Thomas Joshua Cooper – Scattered Waters: Sources Streams Rivers at the Fleming Collection

Exhibiting in what is regarded as the finest collection of Scottish art, Thomas Joshua Cooper’s photographs are boldly celebrated. Born in California, Cooper moved to work as Head of Photography at the Glasgow School of Art, and has lived in Scotland ever since. Cooper is one of the most recognised and well-respected landscape photographers of our time. We see his collection Scattered Waters: Sources Streams Rivers displayed on the first floor of the Fleming Collection, the large vacant white room of which provides an appropriate backdrop for the striking monochrome photographs.

This particular collection of Cooper’s has captured water features that characterise Scotland’s landscape in a unique and mesmerising way. The trait that makes Cooper’s photography so interesting is that he only ever uses one camera, one lens and one exposure: “one picture, one chance”. He has also made the decision to only photograph landscape and only use black and white film. Almost entirely abstract, the depth and delicate detail in the images is phenomenal. There is a ranging contrast between the light and shade, and in every photograph, the essence of the movement of flowing water is captured naturally.

A few of the photographs that were most prominent in my eyes include Twilight – Rapids on the River Ness, which captures a reflected shadow that is dramatically cast against the glow of the ripples. The outline of the shadow is blurred making it difficult to interpret what exactly it is, but this simply enhances the beauty and mystery of the photograph. In contrast with the inarticulate softness of this image, I found The River Findhorn, The Findhorn Gorge to also be quite captivating. Juxtaposing sharp distinguished detail of the rock face against the light liquid blur of the stream is exceedingly effective in creating an incredible photograph.


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