Born in Berlin in 1931 to a diplomat Father and artist Mother, as a child Fay was educated in various countries and enjoyed a multi-cultural upbringing before settling in London.
Fays interest in photography developed whilst taking snaps of her children and progressed into portraiture for mostly authors on book jackets thanks to her husband Anthony Godwin, part of the Penguin publishing house. Totally self-taught, Fay is often quoted as saying she would have loved to have led an adventurous life in photojournalism had she not have had children.
When her marriage ended abruptly , and as her children became older, Fay found a new freedom to explore photography and combined it with her love of walking (Fay became president of the Ramblers Association in 1987). Godwin headed into the British countryside, learning about the history of the topography, documenting medieval roads and field systems and the spacious, rugged landscape in black and white.
Turning her back completely on her portrait work, critics commented on her landscapes as a reflection of desolation and deep loneliness.
From the 1970s Fay became increasingly aware of mans impact on the environment and began documenting rusty cars in beauty spots, sheep overlooking a military canal and an increasing number of signs restricting movement on the land. As a pioneer of organic food production and upset by modern farming practise Godwin produced ‘Our forbidden Land’ (1991) ‘an impassioned attack, on the destruction of the countryside’.(Margaret Drabble-Guardian)
Although never described as pretty, Godwins images have been cited as poetic and are an important political message about our ‘right to roam’. Many of her images use a great depth of field, to emphasize the expanse of the great landscape and to bring attention to these social issues.
References: Daily Telegraph/Obits May 2005. /Faygodwin.com/Margaret Drabble-Guardian.com/ ‘Land-revisited’ National Media Museum.