Edward Burtynsky at Flowers, London E2

I saw some images from this show in a review and was immediately attracted by their graphic and geometric nature. What I hadn’t appreciated until I saw them in real life was the drawing qualities visible in them.


The salt pans are in the Little Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, where over 100,000 people make a living extracting a million tonnes of salt every year from the floodwaters of the Arabian Sea. However, declining market values and receding groundwater levels mean that this trade may not have much of a future.

The grid network of salt pans in use look like paintboxes, with subtly gradated tones of pale blue, grey and brown. But the most startling thing is the way that the traces of former, dried-out pans look like marks made in a charcoal background. Against these, some of the salt pans look like patches of bright paint. Some basic internet research suggests that Burtynsky’s photographs are not enhanced, although that wouldn’t diminish this aspect of the works for me or the value of the idea of mixing media more in my own work.

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I noticed that even the marks on the floor in the gallery resonated with the idea of blocks.