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