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Tom Hunter’s personal odyssey

White Horse Cult, from the series Figures in a Landscape © Tom Hunter

The new series Figures in a Landscape, on show at Purdy Hicks for all of June, is a journey through an English landscape populated by gods, goddesses, and monsters

Tom Hunter’s best-known shot shows a young woman in a squat reading a possession order; taken in Hunter’s home in the 1990s, its colour and composition evoke Vermeer’s A Girl Reading At An Open Window. Now Hunter’s latest series, Figures in a Landscape, melds a similar mix of the personal and the cultural. Inspired by Thomas Couture’s Romans during the Decadence (1847), which shows mortals and immortals inhabiting the same domain, Figures in a Landscape takes the viewer on a journey “through a world imbued with myths and legends”, dotted with scenes from Hunter’s own life.

The series starts in the village where Hunter grew up in Dorset, where tales abound of couples gathering for May Day to have sex beneath the naked male giant of Cerne Abbas, to ensure fertility for both the people and the land. From there Figures in a Landscape tracks through the countryside towards London, past more megalithic chalk images and standing stones, and towards the dinosaurs in Crystal Palace park. From there it journeys to Hackney, Hunter’s base for the last 20 years and once home to Lugus, the Celtic god of the River Lea.

The last shot was taken at Winterville where, says Hunter “the mid-winter solstice pagan festival becomes distorted in an Olympian mountain top landscape”. “Here ancient and contemporary narratives clash and shatter into a dystopian consumerist nightmare,” he adds.

www.tomhunter.org Figures in a Landscape is on show until 30 June at Purdy Hicks, 25 Thurloe Street, London SW7 2LQ www.purdyhicks.com

Aphrodite, from the series Figures in a Landscape © Tom Hunter

Cerne Giant, from the series Figures in a Landscape © Tom Hunter

Dinosaur Island, from the series Figures in a Landscape © Tom Hunter

Hackney Marshes, from the series Figures in a Landscape © Tom Hunter

Journey to the Centre of the Earth, 2018, from the series Figures in a Landscape © Tom Hunter

Middlesex Filter Beds, from the series Figures in a Landscape © Tom Hunter

Pelagie, from the series Figures in a Landscape © Tom Hunter

Poseidon, from the series Figures in a Landscape © Tom Hunter

Weylands Smithy, from the series Figures in a Landscape © Tom Hunter

Winterville, from the series Figures in a Landscape © Tom Hunter