I shot the Awakenings photographic series on the South Downs in East Sussex, inspired by Virginia Woolf’s diaries and fictional writings. The landscape is formed of rolling hills, cut in half by the chalky waters of the river Ouse. Through her writing, Woolf was able to describe both the beauty and violence of nature within a single sentence. In her book To The River, Olivia Laing, writing on Woolf’s connection to the land says Virginia “was acutely sensitive to the landscape, and her impressions of this chalky, watery valley pervade her work. Her solitary, often daily excursions seem to have formed an essential part of the writing process”.
Throughout her life, Woolf suffered through periods of depression and mania. On more than one occasion she was put through rest cure. Developed in the late 1800s for treatment of hysteria and other nervous illnesses, it involved long periods of enforced bed rest and isolation, with creative activities such as writing and needlework strictly prohibited. Fearing she may go mad again, Woolf drowned herself in the river Ouse in March 1941.