Big Bubbles (no troubles)

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Ongoing Projects

I have a number of long-term photographic projects on the go, and I’ve just formally launched the latest by creating a dedicated album for it in my PhotographyBlog gallery. This is a round-up of what they are and what their purpose is.

Poppy, a domestic cat

This isn’t another bunch of cute cat pics on the web (honest). In an ideal world, it would be something more akin to Tony Mendoza’s Ernie project, although I actually discovered that book after I started the project. It aims to document the relationship between a cat and a typical household. Unfortunately, I’ve somewhat run aground with this since the arrival of the Junior Research Assistant; I know I’m going to regret my tardiness one day, since Poppy isn’t getting any younger and now has a list of ailments longer than her tail, although her chosen therapy (constant napping, with the occasional break to soil the dining room carpet) seems to be working well.

Abandoned Tracks

Disused transport links, particularly railway lines, have a strong tug of melancholy; something that was once in essential, or at least viable, use now condemned to overgrown neglect due to the shifting patterns of society. This project tries to capture that feeling. However, most of the shots to date were taken as the opportunity occurred, and I don’t feel I’ve yet grabbed this one by the horns and produced a definitive statement to illustrate what it’s about. Tramway to Jerusalem perhaps comes closest.

Neglected Wales

A project documenting abandoned and derelict facets of the Welsh landscape.

Most places have odd pockets of leftover detritus from earlier economic good times; for example, Manchester’s mills and canals. However, while in England these buildings and objects are often eventually either demolished and replaced, or cleaned up and utilised afresh, in Wales they seem to simply linger, decaying slowly over the decades. Perhaps the money doesn’t exist to clean them up, or nothing has come along to replace them, or the land isn’t needed; the relics of a slower economy. Perhaps hope is still held out for a revival, such as has happened for the Welsh Highland Railway, sixty years after its demise. Or perhaps the Welsh are just more attached to their past and reluctant to wipe it away. I’m not just talking of slag heaps and abandoned railway trackbeds, although they’re numerous and obvious examples, but the remnants in almost every town and village of enterprises that failed, died out or were left behind when history abruptly swerved away on a new course; the filling station with empty pumps, the graffiti-ed lime kilns next to the canal, the fading paintwork carrying the name of a vacant shop, or even just the grassy slope off the main road that now seems to lead nowhere. The subjects of this project have been neglected both by the locals and by other photographers, who only seem to churn out endless vistas of mountains, lakes and waterfalls. Well you know, sometimes it rains in Wales too.

I know that the Welsh economy is now on an upswing to match the first signs of political independence in centuries, with confidence returning along with some of those who left what they once thought was a dead-end, isolated place. However, even disregarding some of the large scale regeneration projects, such as the landscaping of the pit valleys in South Wales, artefacts and signs of the past still abound, raising and asking questions.

The Anglesey Barracks and Llangar series are effectively subprojects of this one (I hope to revisit the latter while on holiday next month), and Abandoned Tracks also contains some related work.

“…and I would give,
While yet we may, as far as words can give,
Substance and life to what I feel, enshrining,
Such is my hope, the spirit of the Past
For future restoration.”
- The Prelude, William Wordsworth