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Aspects of Cosmological Indifference, Verse I (2010-12)

Slideshow Thumbnails Back to Series
#1, 2010, C-type print
#2, 2011, C-type print
#3, 2010, C-type print
#4, 2011, C-type print
#5, 2010, C-type print
#6, 2011, C-type print
#7, 2011, C-type print 
#8, 2010, C-type print
#9 (Utopia Returns), 2012, C-type print
#10, 2011, C-type print
#12, 2011, C-type print
#13, 2012, C-type print
#14, 2012, C-type print
#16, 2012, C-type print

"The visual reverie of dust particles rising through the projector beam of a darkened London theatre formed the genesis of this series. An observation of light and matter that offered a glimpse into the formation of the universe itself.

In keeping with the practice established in my previous series’ of working only within walking distance, I sought to minimise my impact in the creation of new work to the nth degree through the capture of dust on the glass top of a scanner bed - making imagery this time without actually leaving the house. The intention being to investigate the ephemeral patina of our existence.

Finding within these representations of disintegration a strange beauty akin to stars and the vastness of space as well as the end of nature's life cycle. Later upon learning that atmospheric dust particles form the nuclei that give rise to mist, clouds and possibly even rain (thereby reaffirming the cyclical pattern of nature) - I felt drawn back to my concern for the world outside. Spurred on by the thoughts of Sarah Nardi commenting on earlier works from the series ‘Edge’."



"'The images are desolate, almost bleak, but there seems to be a calm about them. They seem to reassure us that the existence of life or the lack thereof is inconsequential to the universe'

Whilst concern for the environment has become more of a mainstream preoccupation it remains to be seen if we have not already used up nature’s goodwill towards us. The slash and burn ecocide of previous generations suggests the future is unknown and the tipping point may already be passed. We fail to heed warning signs at the risk of great loss, yet nature offers a greater lifespan by virtue of the fact that it would eventually profit from our disappearance.

Whilst we continue to rapidly evolve our resource dependent lifestyles, the Cosmos shrugs its shoulders, completely indifferent to the mesmerising mess we make of this planet".

Nicholas Hughes


Nicholas Hughes was born in Liverpool in 1963 and studied photography at the London College of Communication. From an early age, he was a passionate environmentalist. His understanding of how the natural world has suffered for the benefit of corporate profit led him into fundraising for an environmental advocacy group.

At the same time, Hughes grew increasingly aware of the fragility and preciousness of nature and began studying the landscapes around him. Inspired by thoughtful, socially conscious writers like Thoreau and Seamus Heaney, and deeply influenced by the effects of the Chernobyl disaster on nearby North Wales, Hughes dedicated himself to the task of addressing humanity’s increasingly problematic relationship with nature — while avoiding the pitfalls of polemical and topical documentation in a world already supersaturated with images of destruction and decay.

Hughes' work expresses both universal Romantic themes and a contemporary environmental sensibility. His concerns lie in the space between the world that people inhabit and the world that nature still claims as its own, as well as in a resurrection of the human sense of wonderment before nature. Martin Barnes, senior curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, observes that Hughes’ recent series Aspects of Cosmological Indifference combines the ethereal with the ecological, and the earthly with the epic. The vast distances between human and cosmos are collapsed, and in the inertness of space, light and color come alive, producing a series of celestial portraits in which the same sky shows a different face each time. “The images are desolate, almost bleak, but there seems to be a calm about them,” Sarah Nardi wrote of Hughes’ early series Edge. “They seem to reassure us that the existence of life or the lack thereof is inconsequential to the universe.”

Hughes’ theoretical concerns are borne out in his artistic process, which marries the analog to the digital as deftly as it does the physical to the atmospheric. Hughes’ meditations on the threat of ecological destruction simultaneously pay homage to a set of endangered photographic skills and resources. In each rich, vivid print, the light and color that animates the earth and sky seem diffused in the image itself.

Hughes' work has been shown in over sixty group and solo exhibitions worldwide, as well as at the world's major international art fairs in Paris, Los Angeles, and New York. His photographs can be found in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; the Gana Art Center, Seoul, South Korea; the Falmouth Art Gallery, Cornwall, England; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England, which selected his work to appear in a travelling exhibition in India in 2010. His work has been featured in numerous journals and magazines, including Next Level, Hotshoe International, The Photographer, and The British Journal of Photography, and was included in the Harvard University Press publication Photography and the Art of Chance in 2015. Hughes published his first limited-edition book, Aspects of Cosmological Indifference, in 2013, and is currently at work on a forthcoming monograph titled Nowhere Far.

Nicholas Hughes is based in the United Kingdom.

Selected Exhibitions

When frost was spectre-grey, The Photographers' Gallery, London, England

Wonder Current: Nicholas Hughes l Malcolm Opie, CANAL Gallery, London, England 

Ulsan International Photography Festival, South Korea

2010- 2011
Something That I'll Never Really See: Contemporary Photography from the Victoria & Albert Museum
Bhau Dhaji Lad Museum, Mumbai, India
Salur Jung Museum, Hyderabad, India
National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, India 
National Gallery of Modern Art, Bangalore, India

Collectors' Favorites, Duncan Miller Gallery in conjunction with the Photographic Arts Council of the LA County Museum, Los Angeles, CA

Histories of Photography: Outstanding photographs from the permanent collection, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England

Passages of Time – Light, Form and Reflection, Edge, Houston Fotofest, Houston, Texas

Landscape Views & Visions, 5th International Photo Festival, Gana Art Centre, Seoul, South Korea