Tag Archives: beachcombing

Salvaged

 

My approach to making work at the time of Salvaged was that of a collector of the ephemeral, of a maker in the beachcomber or bricoleur tradition, a way of working greatly influenced by Kurt Schwitters and Robert Rauschenberg.

I was born, and grew up on the North East coast of England. As an adult living in Brighton I found my visual production increasingly concerned with an exploration of elements of that North Eastern cultural landscape. I worked digitally, initially collecting and assembling ephemera: detritus, scraps of images, typographic fragments, and text, which functioned at the pictorial level as aids to memory. The starting point need not be autobiographical. Rather it was the association through chance arrangement, which became the material for recollection or reflection, and it is the integration of those responses into a pictorial system, which had as its goal the visualisation of fragments of a life, which made the work autobiographical.

Salvaged, published by Photoworks, in 2004 continued to explore notions of autobiography and narrative. The book consists of 52 images of objects collected on Whitley Bay beach on the North East coast of England, and Brighton beach on the south east coast. The strategy of simply scanning collected detritus, without any further intervention was appropriate to this bookwork. Ephemera collected during walks on both beaches, function as visual echoes, counterpoints to stories, and fragments of remembered conversations, which are interspersed throughout the book. At the heart of this work are memories of walks on Whitley Bay beach with my father, and walks with my sons on Brighton beach in vastly different circumstances; it is the father/son relationship which forms the core of the book.

The limitations I set myself were central to the realisation of this work. On Brighton beach the pier at the Marina defined one point (the new), the remains of the West Pier the other (the old), as well as revisiting a significant memory site; the beach at Whitley Bay, and walking to the lighthouse and back to the town.  In the routine a rhythm was defined, of constantly ‘going over old ground’ of ‘retracing ones steps’ which echoed the activity of memory, of interrogating remembered moments.

The walks took place between 1st. January and 31st. December, 2002.

Salvaged. Photoworks, 2004
ISBN 1-903796-11-3

The Reading Room

 

The Reading Room (2000-2002) had its starting point in the memory of a rainy afternoon sitting in the reference library in Berwick-upon-Tweed.  The library closed, was relocated but still seemed a fitting starting point for this work. It was no longer possible to return to the physical place. All I could do was explore the imaginary space.

So The Reading Room functioned as a framework within which to site an exploration of memory. It suggested a space for reflection, enquiry, and possibility.

 

Walking the Dog

 

Walking the Dog, a sequence of 9 images, began as a way of thinking about sending ‘postcards to a dead man’ (my father has been dead for some years). As with Salvaged and Common Ground, narrative, the sequential, and autobiography/life story were major preoccupations.

At this time I worked digitally, initially collecting and assembling ephemera: detritus, scraps of images, typographic fragments, and text, which functioned at the pictorial level as aids to memory, as chance encounters.

Tidelines


Tidelines, a sequence of seven images, is concerned with walking and collecting; beach combing. Something I often did on long walks with my father on the North East coast of England when I was growing up, and with my two sons on the South East coast where they grew up.

Lindisfarne, the location in which this work was made is extremely important. When I was young this island off the Northumberland coast, was a place to which I would retreat to escape the frequent anger and tension at home.

Tidelines was made over a period of seven days at the beginning of September 2001