Great Yarmouth lecturer’s long-running devotion to Gainsborough

The landscapes of East Anglia provided a lifetime of inspiration for one of England's foremost artists, Thomas Gainsborough.

Now the immortal works of the 18th century master, who grew up in Suffolk, are to be seen in a new light – displayed alongside the contemporary landscape photographs of a Norfolk college lecturer.

Mark Edwards, 45, who teaches photography degree students at University Campus Suffolk's site at Great Yarmouth College, has been commissioned to submit 10 large-scale landscapes for a prestigious exhibition at the Holburne Museum in Bath.

His brief is to capture contemporary scenes around East Anglia and the West Country – both areas where Gainsborough worked – and he is already on the trail of inspiration.

For Mark, a keen member of Norwich Road Runners, is constantly on the look-out for scenes to photograph as he clocks up 60 miles a week in training runs from his home in Poringland, near Norwich, and around the countryside on the edge of Yarmouth.

The first photograph he has taken for the exhibition, which will open next September, is a view back towards Yarmouth from Breydon Water, where the distant man-made contours of port cranes, tower blocks and wind turbines are a modern-day addition to the landscape of bleak marshland, water and rapidly changing skies that would have been appreciated by Gainsborough.

Mark, who has a growing international reputation as a landscape photographer with his large colour photographs, said: 'I like to capture the areas on the edge of town and city where countryside meets the urban landscape. I frequently find inspiration in quiet, overlooked spaces such as allotments and rural football pitches.

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'I don't try to show any emotions in my pictures so the viewer can bring their own experiences to it.'

He described the exhibition as a 'huge opportunity and a massive undertaking' and said he hoped his work would later also go on show locally in Norwich.

The exhibition audience would be invited to think about the landscape of England today and to consider artistic approaches to the landscape over time and through different media.

Mark, who is currently seeking extra corporate sponsorship for the project which will cost him �15,000, said: 'My work has also always been conscious of the visual traditions of East Anglia and the paintings of both Gainsborough and Constable in particular. It is this practice that provides the historical context to my work today.'

The Holburne Museum of Art has been collecting fine art over the last 120 years and is renowned for its collection of British paintings – most notably those of Turner and Gainsborough.

Mark was approached by Katy Baron, former curator of the Royal Collection to which Edwards has contributed, and curator of a two-man exhibition he staged in China last year with 10 of his East Anglian landscapes.

'She knows my work and it was an opportunity I couldn't turn down,' he said.

He works with a 10x8in view camera that allows him to record the most intimate details of his landscapes.

He said: 'I go by intuition but it can take a long time to wait for the right conditions – still and overcast – and it can take up to two hours to take the photograph.

'I have costed it out to the penny for the film, printing, framing, jet printer and everything and am now trying to raise the money.'

Mark has previously staged solo exhibitions in Oxford, Bedford, and Southend among other places but nothing on this scale. His exhibition, Landscapes, in Lianzhoum China, was with Nadav Kander, a well-known photographer.