The Guardian, Saturday May 28, 2005 by Paul Marinko

The photographer Fay Godwin, famed for her collaboration with the late poet laureate Ted Hughes and her belief in the right to roam the countryside, has died aged 74.
Paul Hill, a professor of photography at De Montfort University and a close friend, said she died yesterday in Hastings, East Sussex, after a short illness.
Godwin was best known for her landscape work and portraits of authors such as Hughes and Doris Lessing.

She cemented her reputation when she teamed up with Hughes in 1979 to produce The Remain of Elmet, a collection of poems and photographs.
Born in Berlin in 1931 to a British diplomat father and American artist mother, Godwin settled in London in the late 1950s.

Her interest in photography emerged at the relatively late age of 35 after she began taking pictures of her two young sons.

Her first book, The Oldest Road, was published in 1975 and marked the arrival of a considerable new force in landscape photography.

Three years later the Arts Council gave her one of its first major awards for photography.
After working with Hughes, she went on to collaborate with other writers, including Philip Larkin, Salman Rushdie and the former Private Eye editor Richard Ingrams.

In recent years she moved from black and white to colour photography, and from vast landscapes to intimate images of natural life.

But her landscape interests were not confined to photographic subjects. As a passionate walker she campaigned for open access to the countryside and was president of the Ramblers Association from 1987 to 1990.

She often used her photographs to draw attention to harm being done to the environment. This resulted in a critique called Our Forbidden Land, which won the first Green Book of the Year Award.

She was made an honorary fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in 1990.
Godwin is survived by two sons, Jeremy and Nick, and two granddaughters.

The Telegraph, Monday May 30, 2005

Fay Godwin

Fay Godwin, who died on Friday aged 74, was the foremost landscape photographer in Britain, and also collaborated with the poet Ted Hughes, going on to produce portraits of other writers; her insight into the British countryside, which led her to be compared with the great American photographer Ansel Adams, was also her recreation, and she was president of the Ramblers' Association from 1987 until 1990.

Her photographs, which captured the differing moods and textures of moors, forests and country trails with a remarkable sensitivity and lack of sentimentality, were mostly produced in black and white, but with an extraordinary tonal range. Her portraits, several of which are now held by the National Portrait Gallery, were equally successful; even Philip Larkin was captivated by her ability. Her pictures also drew attention to environmental campaigns (an abiding interest), and her critique Our Forbidden Land won the first Green Book of the Year award.

These achievements were the more remarkable since Fay Godwin did not take up photography until she was in her mid-thirties. She never stopped experimenting: in her latter years, much of her work became more abstract; in the 1980s, she began to work in colour, and at the age of 70 embraced the possibilities offered by digital photography with enthusiasm.

She was born in Berlin on February 17 1931, the daughter of Sidney Simmonds, a British diplomat who had married Stella MacLean, an American artist. Fay's childhood was peripatetic, and she attended nine different schools before embarking on a career as a travel rep. In the 1950s she settled in London, and worked for a time in publishing, before marrying Anthony Godwin, the editor-in-chief of Penguin books, in 1961.

The couple had two sons, but her husband left her in the mid-1970s, and died shortly after they divorced. His parting shot was to suggest that Fay Godwin get a sensible job: "A nice safe job as a secretary with ICI, something like that," she recalled. She took his advice as a challenge. "Of course, the man saying you'll never make it makes you think: 'Yes, I jolly well will.' I went out and bought a large camera on the never-never."

Fay Godwin had begun taking pictures only in the early 1960s, when she discovered that her husband was not much good at family snaps. "I discovered I loved doing it," she said. "Eventually I taught myself to print, and it really went on from there."

She began by producing photographs of writers for the dustjackets of books: Kingsley Amis surrounded by empty whisky bottles; a young Angela Carter in her garden; the poet Robert Lowell stretched out on a sofa. But she realised early on that her landscape work, on which she worked assiduously, often printing until the early hours of the morning, was destined to be poorly reproduced in walkers' handbooks. So instead she sought out a literary agent, and arranged an exhibition of her work.
The Oldest Road, an account of the Ridgeway in Berkshire, with text by JRL Anderson, was an immediate success when it appeared in 1975, eventually selling some 25,000 copies. The Victoria and Albert Museum acquired one of her pictures. The Oil Rush (1976) was followed the next year by The Drovers' Roads of Wales, with Shirley Toulson, which charted the paths from Wales to the London markets. Islands was produced with the writer John Fowles, but her reputation was cemented by Remains of Elmet (1979) in which Fay Godwin's velvety shots of the valleys of West Yorkshire were set beside poems by Ted Hughes.

She received major bursaries from the Arts Council and travelled widely in Scotland, where she fell for the stone circles at Callanish and the quality of the light in Sutherland. Unlike Ansel Adams, she was interested in the way in which man's interventions had sculpted landscape: drystone walls and paths were recurring features, and a fellowship at Bradford resulted in a series devoted to the post-industrial urban landscape of West Yorkshire. She began to use colour: "It never particularly interested me to photograph landscape in colour, but the urban landscape really excited me."
Our Forbidden Land (1990) was a polemic for the right to roam, and against pollution and development; she followed it by invading the Duke of Devonshire's land with a group of pro-rambling MPs.

She continued her work with writers. Fowles wrote for Land, a major exhibition at London's Serpentine Gallery, which toured the UK in 1985 to 1987.
The poet Simon Armitage wrote an introduction to Landmarks (2001), in which he said of her photographs: "There seems to be a point of view, but never a caption. There is clarity of picture, and confidence of tone, and certainty of mind, but one which resists simple annotation or direct summary."

Fay Godwin had other exhibitions at the National Museum of Photography in Bradford, at the Photographers' Gallery, and at the Royal Photographic Society (of which she became an honorary fellow in 1990) in Bath. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery held a major retrospective in 2003.

Her other books included The Whisky Roads of Scotland; Bison at Chalk Farm; The Saxon Shore Way from Gravesend to Rye and The Secret Forest of Dean. There was a change to her style with Glassworks and Secret Lives (1999), in which leaves, seeds and petals were shot through netting and broken glass, and mixed with litter and debris, at close range.

No Luddite, she embraced digital photography, but sparked a long correspondence in the Guardian when she bought one of the first iMacs, and complained furiously about her inability to get it to work.

Her enjoyment of walking - "wonderfully sinful" - was constrained to a degree by a bad skiing accident when she was 25, which led to much of the cartilage in her knee being removed when she was 40.

She was scared of dogs, bulls, thunderstorms, and muggers.

Fay Godwin is survived by her sons.

The Times, Tuesday May 31st, 2005

Fay Godwin
February 17, 1931 - May 27, 2005
Acclaimed photographer with a striking ability to recognise and reflect the components of a landscape

FAY GODWIN was one of the supreme exponents of that most English of obsessions, contemplation of the British landscape. As a landscape photographer she had no betters and few equals in a career stretching over 40 years. Her output was prodigious: thousands of images, all memorable and many sublime. Her photographic compass, in black and white until 1999, was narrow but superbly controlled and perfectly directed to her view of herself and her mission: “I’ve been called a Romantic photographer and I hate it. It sounds slushy and my work is not slushy. I’m a documentary photographer, my work is about reality, but that shouldn’t mean I can’t be creative.”

Fay Godwin was born in Berlin, the daughter of a British diplomat and his American artist wife. She was educated at various schools as the family moved around the world, but in 1958 settled in London, where she took a job with the publisher John Murray. Although she had no formal training she had become interested in photography through taking pictures of her children. With the break-up of her marriage to Anthony Godwin, the editor-in-chief of Penguin books, she began to take photographs for a living.
Her publishing background suggested portraiture as a lucrative avenue, and she started taking photographs of writers for use in their publicity material. Phillip Larkin, Arnold Wesker, Ted Hughes and Saul Bellow were among her sitters, all photographed in the soft natural light that was emerging as her preference. These early meetings led to major collaborations with writers, including Islands (1978) with John Fowles, Remains of Elmet (1979), and Elmet (1994) with Ted Hughes.

In her early career, Godwin was unsure which direction her photography would take. She was already an accomplished photojournalist and she considered freelance magazine photography. But this work is always ill-paid, and requires the photographer to be always available and on call, so she plumped for book illustration instead.
After an early bad experience of illustrating a book on commission she decided that her future lay in working on her own projects. Influenced by the Lake District guides of Alfred Wainwright, her first book was a walkers’ guide, written in collaboration with J. R. L. Anderson, The Oldest Road: An Exploration of the Ridgeway (1975).

In 1978 her talent as a landscape photographer was recognised by a major award from the Arts Council, which led to the publication of her most influential work Land (1985). A compilation of work undertaken over a ten-year period, this showed Godwin at her most fluent, documenting British landscapes from the Orkneys to the Sussex coast. Her ability to recognise and reflect the components of a landscape was striking: Stones of Stenness, Orkney (1979) shows a group of standing stones contrasting intriguingly with a circular hay bale. In Large White Cloud near Bilsington, Kent (1981), she used no more than a furrowed field, a tree and a cloud to produce an enduring image of the countryside of the South of England.

Her use of line, light and shade and direction was classic rather than innovative. In Path and Reservoir above Lumbutts, Yorkshire (1977), the path leads the eye into the picture from the bottom left, a stone wall picks up the path and leads to the reservoir. Careful technical control ensures that the reservoir is highlit, the path and surrounding grass are of medium tone, present but not overwhelming. The surrounding hills are dark, as is the sky, save for a sunburst on the horizon. It is as mature a piece of photographic art as one could wish, Godwin at her most accomplished.

In 1986 Godwin was awarded a fellowship at the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television in Bradford and spent her year exploring the host city by way of colour photography. It was her first sustained colour period, and she produced a body of work which was interesting rather than influential. She continued to work in colour, her images changing to soft, abstract, lyrical treatments of mainly natural subjects. A number of these mixed media photographs were shown in Glassworks and Secret Lives (1999), which she published herself after being unable to find a commercial publisher, perhaps because the work was so unlike what her public had come to expect.

Working alone or in collaboration she published more than 20 books. With Alan Sillitoe she produced a guide book, The Saxon Shore Way (1983); with J. R. L. Anderson she published The Oldest Road (1975); and there were also volumes with Richard Ingrams, Derek Cooper and Peter Purves. Apart from Land, her most influential was Our Forbidden Land (1990), which followed her presidency of the Ramblers Association, and found its origins in her long-held antipathy to all those who sought to restrict access to the countryside.

Her work was exhibited all over the world, and she was as happy to be seen in the smallest galleries. She held many exhibitions at the Rye Art Gallery in East Sussex, but there were major showings too at the Victoria and Albert Museum (1976), the Hayward Gallery (1980) and the Barbican (2001).

Such a body of work does not come easily. Time and patience are prerequisites. One commentator suggested to Godwin that she had been lucky to catch a certain perfect sky. “I didn’t catch it,” was Godwin’s reply. “I sat down and waited three days for it.”
She is survived by two sons.

Fay Godwin, photographer, was born on February 17, 1931. She died on May 27, 2005, aged 74.

The Guardian, Tuesday May 31, 2005 by Ian Jeffrey

Fay Godwin

Photographic chronicler of our changing natural world

Fay Godwin, who has died aged 74, was an outstanding landscape photographer, in line of succession to Edwin Smith, Bill Brandt and Ray Moore. The book for which she will be most remembered is Land (Heinemann, 1985).

Designed by Ken Garland, it is stylish in the classic mode, but what sets Land apart is the care that Fay gave to the combining and sequencing of its pictures. Working with contact prints on a board, she put together a picture of Britain as ancient terrain - stony, windswept and generally worn down by the elements.

It is in the neo-romantic tradition, but also gives an oddly desolate account of Britain, as if reporting on a long abandoned country. We like to think of it as belonging to a British tradition in topography, and we leave it at that. However, we should remember that Land is a book of photographs - and that photographers are aware of photographic culture.
At that time, the model was Robert Frank's dystopian account, The Americans (1959). In 1975, Josef Koudelka contributed Gypsies, a vision of the family of man fallen on very hard times. Fay's rendering was more lyrical, but a lot of the evidence in the pictures points to mediocre development and careless desecration. The book concludes with a set of what she called "stranded materials", L-shaped cement slabs used as sea defences at Pett Level, Sussex, where she had a house. The slabs, with what look like eyeholes, seem to stare towards the sun: found versions of the Easter Island memorials.
Fay was born in Berlin. Her father was a British diplomat and her mother an American painter. She was educated at nine schools and, in the 1950s, after working for a travel company, she went into publishing. In 1961, she married Tony Godwin, of Penguin Books. They separated in 1969, by which time she had begun her photography.
Her first book, co-authored with JRL Anderson, was The Oldest Road: An Exploration Of The Ridgeway (Wildwood House, 1975). It was designed by Ken Garland and Associates, who also designed her other Wildwood books: The Drovers' Roads Of Wales (written by Shirley Toulson, 1977) and Romney Marsh And The Royal Military Canal (written by Richard Ingrams, 1980). In 1975, she took the pictures for The Oil Rush (written by Mervyn Jones, 1976, and published by Quartet).

The Garland-designed books, in a square format, are attractive items, but they are documentaries, sometimes murkily printed. The same was true of The Oil Rush, a thoroughgoing piece of reportage taken at Aberdeen and Peterhead, and on the North Sea oil rigs themselves. In a note in the book, Fay remarked that the pictures were taken during an August heatwave, and that several times she "was refused permission to make trips to rigs, platforms, pipelaying barges and other facilities, because I am a woman."

It is worth pointing out that these early books, with their many pictures, represented publishers' attempts to cope with television, the medium that was promising to make photographic documentary a thing of the past. From the 1970s onwards, photographers had to look elsewhere to survive, and a preferred option was to turn to art.

Fay's entry into art proper came with Remains Of Elmet: A Pennine Sequence (Faber and Faber, 1979) with poems by Ted Hughes. Elmet, associated with the Calder valley, west of Halifax, was the last Celtic kingdom to fall to the Angles. It fostered the industrial revolution in textiles, but, by the 1970s, when Fay went there, it had decayed to the point of looking like a figure for the end of the world.

This description may be unfair to Calderdale, but Remains Of Elmet has to be understood as an invention in the apocalyptic style, which interested photographers in the 1970s (and which certainly informed Land). Resonantly printed by the Scolar Press, Ilkley, it looks like a thoroughly self-confident work in art, but it was assembled with difficulty, the pictures taken on camping trips with children in a Renault 4.

In fact, none of Fay's early successes were easily come by, for they all entailed trips to the wilder part of Britain. During the 1950s, she had severely damaged a knee in a skiing accident, and that was always a hindrance, although not one which she let stand in her way, for she became president of the Ramblers' Association during the late 1980s.
There is one odd picture in Remains Of Elmet of a spent cartridge case lying in long grass next to a pile of grouse droppings. It is an emblematic picture, and a pointer to the kind of imagery that would increasingly preoccupy Fay during the later, more radical, phase of her photography.

This culminated in Our Forbidden Land (Jonathan Cape, 1990). The Britain she had investigated for her 1970s guidebooks had alerted her to the destruction wrought, in particular, by road building, military training, forestation and development. She liked ramshackle smallholdings, which were the work of individuals making do and getting by; she hated distant authority. Look at her essay, Who Owns the Land? (1994), 17th in Charter 88's Violations Of Rights In Britain series. In the short-term, she deplored how English Heritage and the National Trust "have copyrighted our heritage", and, in the long term, imagined "an Orwellian future".

Fay told me that she never made very much from publishing, despite 17 books. One way around the problem, she added, was to take a number of copies in lieu of a fee, and sell them after lectures and workshops. Many people in her position would have gone into teaching - and then gone under. She remained independent to the end, and one outcome of this was Glassworks & Secret Lives (Stella Press, 1998), after an exhibition at the Warwick arts centre in 1995.

Photographers hardly ever switch format successfully, and for most of her working life Fay had taken pictures in black and white. The Glassworks series are in colour, and are of foliage - flowers and seed heads seen obscurely through screens and nets.
Why she turned in this direction is a moot point, but many of the pictures remind me of medical imaging. I think she was beginning to reflect on her own mortality, and that she saw herself as implicated in this wider world, in which metamorphosis was the norm.
Fay was a most scrupulous person. Look through her books and you will find many acknowledgements, especially to printers and designers. She was well aware that nothing is got for nothing, and that we exist in a web of dependencies. She was a great manager, I always thought, and indomitable.

She is survived by her sons, Jeremy and Nick.

Fay Godwin, photographer, born February 17 1931; died May 27 2005

The Independent, Thursday June 2, 2005 by Val Williams

Fay Godwin
Photographer fascinated by the landscape and ancient roadways of Britain

Fay Simmonds, photographer: born Berlin 17 February 1931; President, Ramblers' Association 1987-90, Life Vice-President 1990; married 1961 Tony Godwin (two sons; marriage dissolved); died Hastings, East Sussex 27 May 2005.

When the photographer Fay Godwin appeared as a guest on Desert Island Discs in the spring of 2002, her choice of music was a telling blend of the rambunctious (Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock") and the elegiac (Benjamin Britten's Suite for Cello).
Godwin's photography ranged from lyrical photographs of the British landscape to penetrating portraits of some of the UK's leading literary figures, including Ted Hughes, Angela Carter and Philip Larkin. She transcended numerous cultural barriers in her photographic work - she worked alongside Hughes (on Remains of Elmet, 1979), the playwright Alan Sillitoe (The Saxon Shore Way: from Gravesend to Rye, 1983) and the novelist John Fowles (Land, 1985) on books about the British landscape, and combined photography with political activism when she became President of the Ramblers' Association in 1987, producing a remarkable visual polemic, Our Forbidden Land, in 1990.

Fay Godwin was passionate about photography, about the students she taught at photographers' workshops, the environment, the position of women in society, health issues and her home on the bleak Romney marshes of Kent. A conversation at a private view would quickly rise above the small-talk of such occasions and become a powerful (and usually one-sided) blast on the state of photography, women's lives and the environment.

She was born Fay Simmonds in 1931 in Berlin, to Sidney Simmonds, a British diplomat, and Stella MacLean, an American artist. In the Fifties, she settled in London and, in 1961, married Penguin Books' editor-in-chief Tony . Through her husband, Fay was introduced to the lively London literary scene, subject matter for many of her later portraits. But Fay Godwin was a relative latecomer to photography; self-taught, she honed her skills by photographing her two young children, Nicholas and Jeremy. When her marriage broke down in the Seventies (soon afterwards Tony Godwin died), photography became a job rather than a hobby as she produced photographs of authors for book jackets and publishers' promotion.

Fay Godwin established herself as a defender of the craft, as well as the art, of photography. Along with John Davies, Thomas Joshua Cooper and John Blakemore, she became internationally known as a maker of fine black-and-white photographic prints which reflected a deep and mystical regard for the landscape. She was one of the first British independent photographers to break away from the confines of the editorial and commercial worlds. Like so many photographers who became prominent in the Seventies, she was determined to fight for the right to follow her own photographic convictions, to choose her own subject matter and to work at her own speed.

Godwin was fascinated by the antiquity of the land, by the traces which men and women had left behind them, manifested, in her early projects, by ancient roadways across the countryside. The Oldest Road: an exploration of the Ridgeway appeared in 1975 and The Drovers' Roads of Wales in 1977. But it was Remains of Elmet (1979), with photographs by Godwin and poems by Ted Hughes, that brought her the acclaim which established her as one of Europe's master photographers. The photo historian Philip Stokes noted that her photographic studies of the landscape have a felicity which flows from their rightness, rather from any gentling of her view of the places photographed. Indeed, some convey a sense of formidable, cold hardness. Many are located in the old, used lands formed by the activities of predecessor tribes, ranging from Bronze Age agriculturalists to early industrial man. The marks of each on the earth are recorded by Fay Godwin with such impartial completeness that the limitations on information lie with the perceiver rather than the image.

In 1976, Godwin's photographs were included in the V&A's exhibition The Land, selected by Bill Brandt in collaboration with the museum's new curator of photographs, Mark Haworth-Booth. For the leading members of the emerging photo establishment, Godwin symbolised a new breed of landscape photographer, combining a challenge to sentimental pictorialism with a commitment to the rugged poetic possibilities of landscape photography. Her black-and-white fine prints repudiated the brightly coloured representations of Britain which had become so familiar in the post-war years. Here, they announced, is a landscape of mystery and imagination, of wild places, hard rocks and cold water, contradicting a view of Britain as a gentle idyll of thatched cottages, limpid streams and peaceful meadows. Godwin's countryside was violent and forbidding, a lonely and magnificent place.

In Seventies Britain, fine photographic reproduction was expensive, complex and often unobtainable. Although Godwin's books promoted her photography to an audience far beyond the small and marginalised UK photographic community, she was determined to present her photographs as meticulously produced artworks. From the beginning, she showed not at the emerging photographic galleries opening in London and the regions, but at the fine art Anthony Stokes Gallery in the West End. As one of the first post-war British photographers to be accepted by the British art world, she paved the way for later generations of artist photographers, eager to widen their opportunities beyond the photographic circuit.

By the mid-Eighties, Godwin was at the height of her photographic powers. Her work was popular across a wide range of audiences, from fine print collectors and exhibition curators to a public intrigued by her sense of adventure and her revelations of Britain's hidden landscape. At the height of the growth of the heritage industry, where the past was reconstructed to entertain the present, there was something authentic about Godwin's view of history. She recorded the small marks which mankind made on the land, scratchings on a hardly permeable surface.

In 1984, the British Council toured a solo show of Godwin's work across Europe, ensuring her international reputation, and a year later, her exhibition Land opened at the Serpentine Gallery. Land made Godwin famous, and the still gravitas of these small black-and-white photographs hung on the walls of the Serpentine's pavilion in the lush greenery of Hyde Park was moving and monumental. Her photographs had a stark simplicity which appealed to both press and public.

In her travels through Britain's wildest terrains, Godwin became increasingly aware of how little of our countryside we are allowed access to. She was appalled by the amount of land held (and unused) by the Ministry of Defence, disturbed by the extensive private estates which prevented the British public from exploring its natural heritage. She was shocked that the National Trust should demand a fee when she photographed landscapes held in trust for the nation. Increasingly radical, she became a central figure in the Ramblers' Association, taking up its presidency in 1987.

For her next project, Our Forbidden Land, she searched for locations which would illustrate the loss of public access to the British countryside. She photographed notices, crudely scrawled with directives to keep out, land littered with detritus by the MoD, footpaths blocked and rights of way obscured. She abandoned her usual collaboration and wrote the text herself, producing a powerful and impassioned plea for the right to roam. If this new work appealed less to collectors, it could only enhance her reputation with a British public increasingly interested in the natural environment. Our Forbidden Land was published in 1990 and won the first Green Book of the Year award; the Royal Photographic Society organised an exhibition of prints from the project and Godwin became an Honorary Fellow of the Society.

Black-and-white landscape photography, with its concern for fine printing, has a particular and dedicated following. Godwin's sessions at the Duckspool Photographic Workshops in Somerset proved to be a huge draw. It was surprising, then, when she made an abrupt change in her photographic method. She began to work in colour, making urban landscapes during a residency at the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford and Glassworks & Secret Lives (1999), a series of minutely detailed close-ups of natural forms. Godwin was unable to find a publisher for this latest series but, indefatigable as ever, she self-published, distributing the book from a small local bookshop in her adopted town of Rye.

To meet Fay Godwin in these later years was to encounter a woman whose disappointment with the publishing and arts establishment was clear and vocal. An invitation from the Barbican Art Gallery in London to mount a retrospective (Landmarks, 2001) was a compliment she undoubtedly had not been expecting.

Godwin was a complex, surprising and often daunting character. She battled with ill-health for much of her adult life, yet walked hundreds of miles in wild country carrying heavy photographic equipment. She was an independent woman who succeeded at a time when photography was anything but a woman's world. She expressed her anger towards the establishment at the same time as supplying a connoisseurs' market with exquisite fine prints. Many claims are made for photography as an agent of change, and most are spurious. But Fay Godwin's use of landscape photographs to change the way we look at our world was genuinely, and powerfully, radical.