“I share a sense that, actually, ‘normal’ is what got us to this point in the first place. If we are going to evolve, to a place of greater fairness and safety for our planet and its people, our future cannot look exactly like our past. We are going to need a genuine rethink about many areas of our lives. Our attitudes, our priorities, our compassion. What and how we consume. What we stand for and how we voice it.” – Edward Enniful
In the words of current editor-in-chief of British Vogue Edward Enniful, “as the world rushes to find its feet again, we all need to be more mindful of the toll our previous pace of living took on nature.” In a time where we slowly return to what many of us think will be normality, the subject of reset has been all too familiar across various themes. As writer Helen MacDonald noted with regards to the past six months of our lives, “some commentators maintained that Covid-19 was planetary revenge for the havoc humans have wreaked on natural systems. Others, more quietly, carefully and humanely, have wondered if it might signal a reset in our relationship to nature.” In the first issue of its kind, British Vogue embraced this concept of reset to release 14 special covers for its August 2020 issue. Some of the country’s greatest living image-makers took on the challenge to capture new and original landscapes that spoke to them in relation to the theme. The final result is a beautiful range of original prints, each showcasing their own depiction of nature that all tie in with the overall theme that everything comes back to our planet. As Enniful asserts, “It’s [our planet] maintenance enjoyed renewed focus as human activity slowed down in late spring, from the indelible images of clear canals in Venice to an absence of smog over Los Angeles.” We selected some of our favourite covers to share below in celebration of a reset of us, our society and planet.
David Hockney – East Yorkshire
Sharing his personal view of East Yorkshire, Hockney’s 2006 painting boasts hues of terracotta orange and moss green to reference his idea of reset. Although very typical of the painter with his use of vibrant colours and saturated feel, the landscape evokes an entirely new feeling and meaning following the global pandemic which has made many view nature in a new light and with new importance.
Tim Walker – Hackney, East London
Perhaps one of the most famous fashion photographers of his time, Walker captured his home in East London’s Hackney for his contribution to Vogue’s August special. Captured in April, the image depicts small white blossoms which emerge from a grey concrete wall. Inspired by a text Walker received from 83-year-old editor Kumar, who delved into how “living in harmony with nature is the very first lesson we, humans, collectively, need to learn from this crisis,” the final image presents nature’s dominium within urban constraints through a joyful lens.
David Sims – Victoria Memorial
Whilst out with his son on a bike ride during the initial weeks of lockdown, Sims captured a photograph which has since changed in meaning entirely, as that was when statues weren’t yet covering headlines in the news. As the photographer mentioned, “London was suddenly so quiet that it felt like we had the city to ourselves. There were no cars, so there was no danger in that regard for my son. It was exceptional to share freedom like that together, when so many things were in chaos.” Since those weeks, the bronze statue has come to be associated within a different context, namely, one of the legacy surrounding slavery and colonialism in the country with the rise and urgency of the Black Lives Matter movement across the world.
All image rights belong to British Vogue.