Ex lawyer, turned banker, medical tech entrepreneur, actor, film maker and photographer, Chaz Oldham has lived many lives and it would seem and these combined life experiences have led him to the hallowed grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea with a beautiful photographic exhibition and film installation at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
A photographic exhibition at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is a rare thing but Beauty+Truth: Healing Green ties in beautifully and should resonate with anyone who loves nature, the great outdoors and gains a sense of well being or healing from trees, plants and gardens. Beauty+Truth: Healing Green is a photographic celebration of the healers and the healed of the horticultural world.
Over the last 9 months, Chaz has traversed the country to photograph the famous and the not so famous of the gardening world, all of whom have one thing in common: an experience of or a belief in the healing power of all things green.
The exhibition arose out Chaz’s personal experience of depression and being healed through gardening, and specifically trees, and his resulting desire to celebrate those who have helped him on that journey whether they knew it or not!
In recent years, the healing power of all things green has slowly risen up the media agenda and seeped into the public consciousness to such an extent that the restorative power of horticulture is, rightly, accepted as fact. Chaz is convinced that this would not be the case were it not for the legion of gardeners out there who have quietly been banging their green healing drum for years, be it Chris Beardshaw who, in 2010, was already talking about recovery rates in hospitals being improved by simply having a green view, or Monty Don talking movingly about how the simple act of sinking his fingers into warm soil has helped him tackle depression, it is these people – and many others that are celebrated in Beauty+Truth: Healing Green:
Digital photography has been a boon, democratising the industry and allowing photographers a more direct voice in expressing their creative instincts than was previously allowed. It has also, however, been a curse in that, too often, through use of the same software, a lot of portrait photography ends up looking the same. And that air brushed perfection comes at a price: faces no longer tell the sitter’s true story.
In Beauty+Truth: Healing Green, Chaz had adhered to the Peter Lindbergh maxim in that true beauty can only come from truth. So, in Healing Green the resulting portraits are more raw, honest and reflect the true beauty of the sitters.
Soane House in Ranelagh Gardens, at the heart of the Chelsea Showground will be converted into a mini gallery for the duration of the show and will host a rotation of portraits from the series, broadcast on six large screens with an accompanying commentary by the photographer.