Chrystel Lebas

Lives & works: UK

The work of French-born photographer Chrystel Lebas examines the complexities of mankind’s relationship with nature. Through her photographic work she investigates various landscapes and sites over time, documenting and revealing the various changes brought about by the interaction of man and nature itself. Working often in limited light and utilising the ‘uncertainty of the falling darkness at twilight’, Lebas produces large format, often panoramic and enveloping images of nature at its most remote, her beautiful and enigmatic works reflecting upon ‘notions of the sublime and our relationship to nature’.

During a collaboration with London’s Natural History Museum, Lebas combined photography with film, sound-work and text in a work retracing the steps of Sir Edward James Salisbury (1886-1978), a British ecologist who was director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London (1943-56), who himself photographed landscapes of the British Isles. During this collaboration Lebas retraced Salisbury’s steps and the changes that had occurred since his life-time, producing a body of work that explored ‘the issues in relationships between humans, plants, and the environment in Salisbury’s time and also today’.

From this body of work came the limited edition so generously donated to Field Editions: ‘Revisiting Ranunculus Fammula’ was created while following Salisbury’s footsteps in Dartmoor National Park, along a path leading from Belstone towards the River Taw. Salisbury was interested in both the sweeping views of the Moor and the flora he found along the banks of the Taw River. Here he photographed and was able to extend his collection and research on the Ranunculaceae family (Buttercup). Unable to locate the specific flowers that he had recorded, Lebas photographed Ranunculus flammula, a perennial herb of wet habitat which she found floating in the river Taw, dotting the river with its small yellow flowers, subsequently learning that there is some evidence for a loss of R.flammula in the South East of England.

Chrystel Lebas is a graduate of the Royal College of Art (1997). Her photographs and films have been widely exhibited, most recently in her solo exhibition ‘Regarding Nature: Chrystel Lebas’ at Huis Marseille, Museum for Photography, Amsterdam in The Netherlands (2016-17). A selection of other galleries where she has exhibited include The Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh (2016-17); The Photographers’ Gallery, London (2017); Maryland Art Space, Baltimore (2014); Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (2012); Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Rijeka, Croatia (2011); The Collection and Usher Gallery, Lincoln (2011); National Media Museum, Bradford (2009); Le Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, Paris (2008); The Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2006); Nichido Contemporary Arts, Tokyo (2003) and Palais de Tokyo, Paris (1992). She has also shown her work at Paris Photo and Photo London Art Fairs.

Works by Lebas are held in several private and public collections, amongst them Huis Marseille, Museum for Photography Amsterdam; The Scottish National Gallery, The Victoria and Albert Museum; Bibliothèque Nationale Paris; The Collection and Usher Gallery, The Citigroup Private Bank and The Wilson Center for Photography.

Chrystel Lebas lives and works in London, UK.

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