Landscape photography show opens new Belper gallery space

Shot in Shining Cliff Woods near Ambergate, landscape photographer Jeff Mander says this is one of his favourite woodland shots.
Shot in Shining Cliff Woods near Ambergate, landscape photographer Jeff Mander says this is one of his favourite woodland shots.

A Derbyshire photographer has become the first artist to exhibit work in a new gallery space at Strutt’s Mill with his stunning wooded landscapes.

Jeff Mander’s Sylvan went on show to the public in the mill’s Upper Wheel Pit on Saturday, February 4, and will stay up until April 23.

It represents a full circle for Jeff, 55, who remembers visiting the mill while studying A-Level art at Swanwick School.

He said: “The industrial architecture is so striking, I was interested in it early on. It’s strange to come back after all these years.”

The industrial impression was a lasting one. After training as a sculptor, Jeff now works at the Silk Mill in Derby, while selling his artwork.

For all his love of the man made, he has relished the opportunity to marry Strutt’s Mill back into the landscape which gave rise to the factory system.

He said: “The wheel pit is a lovely space, the team have done a great job to optimise it for exhibitions, and the arches set off the work really well.”

Representing a small sample of Jeff’s work, the 14 pieces on display capture an incredible range of Derbyshire woodland scenes throughout the four seasons.

Jeff said: “It was tough to whittle it down, but when we first talked about the exhibition, the mill’s manager Mark Higginson suggested we concentrate on woodland and water.

“There’s such a tremendous range of landscapes in this county, that’s what makes it so special. The woodlands are much more intimate than the wide open vistas, but even when you get selective, you realise just how much there is to choose from.”

As well as a fraction of his portfolio, the exhibition belies the lengths Jeff will go to in order to get his shot.

He said: “When I look at them, I can feel the miles and miles of trekking, long journeys on the Transpeak bus and hours waiting for the perfect moment.

“I’ve been going out ever since I was a boy. My dad had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the land, and these days I just love the peace and tranquillity.

The effect of Jeff’s approach creates spellbinding, images you feel could walk straight into.

Light, he said, is the key ingredient: “One of the best shots came from a grim, foggy day at Shining Cliff. Suddenly the cloud broke and there was light rays reflecting off a pond and all through the mist.

“I’m just trying to reflect the beauty I see - from limestone to gritstone, different flora. One of my favourite places is up near Monks Dale, it’s more like a rainforest with all the moss and lichen.”

The gallery opens Saturday and Sunday during February, 11am to 4pm, then Wednesday to Sunday from March 1.

To see more of Jeff’s work, go to www.jeffmander.co.uk.