‘Our landscape is like a whiteboard – written over many times with faint, tantalising traces left behind,’ reads an anonymous quote beside a photo of Arbor Low, a Stone Age monument in Derbyshire. On the ground, the site is too large to make sense of. From above, it is possible to see the entire footprint of a site that has hosted 5,000 years of human activity.
It is one of nearly 100 images at the Britain from the Air exhibition, which brings together the best of the nation’s aerial photography. The collection comes to London for the first time – after previous tours in Oxford, Bath, Edinburgh and Leeds – and provocative shots of nesting gannets and rolling wind turbines lead visitors in from Exhibition Road to the Royal Geographical Society (with IGB) itself. Its outdoor gallery showcases British geography in a way that only height can. Height means that a dawn landscape of frosty Cumbrian hills, formed by glacier deposits, can be compared with a portrait of Hadrian’s wall, once the border of the Roman Empire. Height shows the advance and retreat of glaciers and empires alike.
The exhibition is free and will be on show at the Society from 12 May to 12 July 2016