Lost Coast a photographic essay from Carson Lancaster explores the raw Californian coastline

A photographic essay exploring the most undeveloped and remote part of the Californian coastline is the focus of one of the latest exhibitions at the print space in London.

The show from Carson Lancaster showcases a journey made with his two older brothers along the rugged and raw coastline. Shot in black and white the photographs showcase the desolation of the place and its raw beauty.

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But this isn’t just a show about a coastal hike, rather this is also a story of renewal between brothers through the shared experience of being together with only nature for company. “Over the years as we’ve gotten older we became more distant as siblings sometimes do” Carson told me. Adding that it was these shared experiences which, despite any prior tensions that might have existed between them, would be remembered in later life.

Of course for a UK audience California probably isn’t the kind of place you’d immediately associate with remoteness. Yet, given the size of the state it’s perhaps an odd way to look at it and perhaps that in itself only speaks to the unconscious bias and world view of a London based blogger. In fact, the Lost Coast itself is only reached via a five hour drive from San Francisco on gnarly and unpaved roads. Once there drinking water is drawn from streams and sleeping is only managed under the night sky on beaches, bluffs and beside creeks.

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A creek on the lost coast. Photograph by Carson Lancaster

“The coastline itself may look serene and peaceful but it is actually quite harsh and loud” Carson explained when asked to describe the environment. “Lapping waves make for an easy rhythmic sleep but crashing surf is incessant.” Most of the trails accessibility is also dependant on the severity and height of the tides with much of the trail inaccessible at anything above a 2-3 foot tide. “These things aside, it truly is one of the most beautiful places on earth.”

The images in the exhibition have an extra layer of intimacy given that in many the brothers are shown naked against the landscape. “The intimacy of the nude photos of my brothers reflect a return to nature” Carson tells me. “Forgoing the social norms and bonding with ones surroundings.”

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Lost Coast by Carson Lancaster

It didn’t go without incident though, the removal of clothes meant a kind of contact with nature which perhaps the human body isn’t that used to. Reactions from the urishol oil secreted from wild growing and plentiful poison oak would lead to painful and itchy allergic reactions meaning that the ocean itself would be needed in order to wash it off.

As for a typical day it “involved waking with the sun, a breakfast of coffee and oats, packing our gear and heading off.” Averaging around 15 miles a day Carson comments that it may not sound gruelling but “the majority of the trail is a coarse sand which is incredibly rough on your back and knees.” Hiking until 3-4 the rest of the day would be spent reading books or playing with a Frisbee and of course, “I had my camera accessible on my backpack and was constantly shooting.”

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The Pacific wash. Photograph by Carson Lancaster

Curating the show, the London based trio of Benjamin Murphy, Nick JS Thompson and Wingshan Smith. Together forming the Delphian Gallery they were responsible for putting on the show having come across Carson’s work online via an online documentary called ‘The Gallerist‘. Of the three we’ve covered the work of Murphy before. Known for his tape art he’s been an artist whose work we’ve enjoyed covering over the years.

Aiming to give a platform to works which become important to people in a way that might not immediately be apparent. The Lost Coast is also a project which seems to the fit with the Delphian Gallery’s ethos. A show which on the outside might indicate one direction but which when examined more closely suggests another altogether.

The exhibition from Carson Lancaster is showing at the Print Space on the Kingsland Road in Hoxton. The show opened on 11 January 2018 and runs until 24 January 2018.

Lost Coast Gallery

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The Print Space on the Kingsland Road

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Photograph in development solution

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Lost Coast from Carson Lancaster

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Some of the images from the show

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Visitors admiring the work