With the Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015 exhibition opening 4 November at Jerwood Space, London, we caught up with each of our three Awardees. Here Tereza Zelenkova discusses the Awards and what comes next.

Please tell us briefly about your new body of work.

My new work started as an attempt to create a portrayal of the Czech Republic my home country, reflecting its peculiar beauty, which I believe is imbued with elements of darkness and melancholy, occasionally seeping to the surface through morbid fairytales, forgotten biographies, local histories and superstitions.

The locations I was particularly interested in were those with histories bordering with mysticism or in some way fulfilling my own personal image of what constitutes the mystery permeated landscape of my remembered childhood.

The places I photographed ranged from castles, primeval forests, and ritual monuments, to folk architecture and sculptures carved into sandstone rocks, which are typical natural landmarks in many parts of the Bohemian landscape.

Generally speaking I’ve been interested in a kind of transcendental landscape, as a space infused with its own mythologies, that further opens up the imagination.


© Tereza Zelenkova Elizabeth Bathory’s Bedroom, Cachtice Castle, originally commissioned through Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015

How have your ideas developed throughout this process and how did the mentoring process influence your approach to making the new work?

I think the ideas developed especially through the physical encounter with many of the places I set out to photograph. Quite early on it became apparent that a place itself might not be visually as interesting as the story tied to it and vice versa. As I didn’t set out to carry out an extensive documentary project, but rather artistic interpretation, I took many liberties, mixing up stories and places freely without being too worried about objectivity.

The main task became to somehow capture the genius loci of the inner landscape often lying buried beneath a quite mundane surface of this highly agricultural and tourism overrun land. For this, I had to stop being tourist myself and become more of traveller, discovering places for myself and assigning them meaning through personal experience, not what I’ve a priori learnt about them.

The mentoring itself hasn’t really influenced the work dramatically but it was good to get a fresh point of view on the work. This was sometimes re-assuring and added some level of confidence, other times it could be a bit discouraging, but always promoted some critical thinking and forced me to re-asses my creative decisions.

© Tereza Zelenkova, Dog Cemetery, Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015

© Tereza Zelenkova, Dog Cemetery, originally commissioned through Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015

What’s next for you?

I would like to continue working on the project, photographing further locations and objects of interest and eventually produce a publication and larger exhibition that would bring all the elements of the work together, including a much broader selection of images and texts presenting the stories behind some of the images.

I don’t think this is a body of work that will ever be completely finished, but I’d like to believe that capturing and archiving these places is somehow meaningful and so I hope to give the work a comprehensive form that would preserve it for posterity.


For more information about Tereza’s work click here

For further information about the Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015 click here. 

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