Picture Perfect

Photographer Simon Palmour’s Yorkshire

Simon Palmour has been a photographer for 40 years, most recently known for his evocative images of Yorkshire. I asked him about his work, how he got started and his upcoming book on a mysterious, forgotten kingdom.

Wharram by Simon Palmour
Cottam Chapel by Simon Palmour

Origins

Simon originally hails from Preston in Lancashire. Moving to London, in his twenties, he quickly established himself as a professional. His early subject matter featured musicians and models, before he left Britain to travel Europe in the mid ’90s. Subsequent landscape and mountain shots were published in magazines, which led to exhibitions in London. Simon and his wife later moved to York.

When his daughter was born, 23 years ago, he switched to digital photography. Traditional dark-room developing had become too time-consuming.

“Some people say it’s better on film. I don’t believe that,” he says. He describes digital as “liberating.”

Simon prefers to exhibit his work in person, making connections face-to-face rather than online. He continues to attend London shows regularly.

Bewitching Wolds

His past work centred on the bewitching Yorkshire Wolds. Simon captures its beautiful, isolated quality, his images dangling between reality and otherworldliness. He loves the dry valleys – a natural phenomenon 18,000 years old, created by fast-flowing streams across icy surfaces. The chalky earth drains quickly, leaving the area devoid of streams.

Deep Dale. Wharram Percy by Simon Palmour

Mysterious Elmet

Simon’s current theme is the ancient Yorkshire kingdom Elmet. Fascinatingly, this existed between the 5th and 7th centuries. The precise location is unclear but it is thought to have covered West and South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire. Villages outside Leeds, named Barwick-in-Elmet, Scholes-in-Elmet and Sherburn-in-Elmet give an obvious nod to the past.

“Spirit of Elmet” is Simon’s latest book exploring the rich remnants of this little-known Yorkshire realm. He was inspired by the work of photographer Faye Godwin and poet Ted Hughes as well as author Fiona Mozley and her debut novel”Elmet.”

York Open Studios

Simon regularly invites the public to his home overlooking Hob Moor, for the city’s annual Open Studios. This popular event gives locals and tourists the chance to visit artists’ homes to view and buy sculptures, paintings and other creative works. Simon’s first Open Studios was in 2007 and he has contributed every year since (2020 aside due to Lockdown.)

To find out more about Simon’s work, you can visit his blog at Palmour Photographics or better still if you are close to York, see his wonderful photographs for yourself at York Open Studios on 9th July 2021.

Hambleton Hough by Simon Palmour

Cover of Simon’s latest book

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