I took this week as an opportunity to try and get further shooting done in an attempt to try and gain a greater understanding of what my project for this semester will be. At the moment I am unsure of how to create a solid project foundation with interesting themes, instead, I am torn between two very different ideas. As a result, I have two mini projects running simultaneously. These mini projects/ideas are very different from each other but are broadly around landscape use and identity.
Project Idea 1: Post-Industrial National Identity.
This project concentrates on themes such as post-industrial landscapes and national identity. I am interested in how? and if national identity is conveyed within the structure, layout and components within a landscape. I was largely inspired by a set of photographs that I had taken at Bristol docks that featured a shallow depth of field images that incorporated the post-industrial cranes that reside outside of the M-Shed. In background these dark and powerful structures that glow within the blurred background. In the foreground, strings of patriotic blue, white and red bunting from a boat were visible. I really liked how this image worked really well to convey the after effects of post-industrialism as being dark, gloomy and ominous whilst also simultaneously a being proud, strong and vibrant reflection of British national identity. Here are the images I am refering to…
With these very broad criteria in mind, I decided to set out again and take photographs in and around Bristol to see if I can recreate this effect within other places. Whilst doing this, it occurred to me that post-industrialist effects vary from place to place and culture to culture. Following this, I decided that it would be a great idea if I could look at industrialism within another city to see if there are any shared similarities or differences. I took to the town in which I now live, within Swindon, there are various areas that focus on post-industrialism although unlike Bristol; Swindon’s post-industrialist artefacts focus more strongly on trains and the locomotive industry whereas Bristol’s focus concentrates on trading and production industries. I also wanted to have the opportunity to focus and explore the two cities together to gain a wider understanding of post-industrialism on a wider and more culturally diverse scale.
It is interesting to mention that both Bristol and Swindon make efforts to preserve and showcase their post-industrial traces and both work to integrate both post-industrial architecture and contemporary city life together. However, it appears that Bristol has left most of it dock area to reside in its original state, gradually decaying further due to exposure to outside elements and natural ageing whereas Swindon takes the approach of gathering its most prized artefacts, maintaining them to the state of near newness and showcasing them in a museum that prides itself on Swindon’s national heritage and identity mentioning it fundamental role within railroad transportation within England with particular reference to GWR. Both seem to approach post-industrialism in a way that draws on and convey’s national and local identity and its involvement within the industrial movement. I am also greatly interested in how and why both post-industrial artefacts and structures converge and mingle between today’s contemporary and dynamic architecture. It’s really interesting to see Hundreds of years of historic heritage combine and mingle together in one scene or landscape. I wanted to really change the way we typically think about spaces around us within the everyday context, it is important to mention how this project widely focuses on public space and exposure.
Here are some images from each on-location shoot:
When shooting in Bristol, I focused predominantly on the area of the docks and the surrounding areas…
When shooting in Swindon, I focused on heritage sites such as the Outlet Village and Steam; a museum that showcases locomotive developments and histories…
Project Idea 2: ‘Lost Objects’ within landscapes
My second project idea aimed to explore and examine object based narrative and meaning. When visiting a local heritage park within Swindon called Stanton Park. When visiting and moving around this area, it was filled with lost or mislaid personal effects which mostly included items of clothing and objects. I have always been interested in exploring personal objects and how these contain subtle clues to our identities. I am also interested in examining how each discarded object had a purpose, life or narrative up to the moment they were discarded, this interest is greatly linked with waste and a strong concern for our future environment. I am curious as to how and why when objects become discarded, they often become forgotten or invisible, they are the used and dirty cigarette butts and sweet wrappers that linger in the gutter or are blown across our paths. We move beyond these objects without any thought or contemplation and continue with our day to day lives. I want to take banal and discarded or lost objects within the every day and illuminate an enticing and dynamic new approach to thinking of these objects. Over the past few weeks, I have photographed lost or discarded objects both in Swindon and Bristol.
However, during this week’s shoot in Bristol, I came across various items of clothing tied to poles, lamp posts, trees and railings. Upon further inspection, it became clear that I had stumbled on a humanitarian movement that worked to provide clothing access to the homeless and rough sleepers of Bristol. Clothing left was often Woolley, knitted or crocheted and came with a tag that usually read “I’m not lost. Take me if you need me and keep Bristol warm.” this find was really interesting because, I was now presented with objects and items that were seemingly lost but actually worked to service a purpose which in turn, completely juxtaposed my initial investigation into lost or discarded objects.
My initial interest in lost objects focused on a process that focused on the past history and purpose of that object ranging from production uses through to the end of that object being mislaid and then forgotten to reside in its last location. This is completely conflicted by the #KBW movement that works to trace narrative and purpose into the future rather than just the past. These two micro ideas work really well together in terms of focusing on the same mundane nature of objects and their seeming appearance of being lost, discarded or forgotten when actuality the same object both serve very different purposes. This project offers an innovative and new way of regarding and thinking about object, purpose, and landscapes.
Here is a diagram explaining this…
I feel that this project could be particularly interesting because it raises questions that relate to landscapes, in the City Centre, the spaces are public. The #KBW movement raises questions over ownership, access and rights. Bristol’s rough sleepers eminently lack access and ownership and as a result, arguable rights to… is this movement an attempt to raise awareness to this or to provide these vulnerable people with access? This project also raises the question of, do people have the rights to utilise this public space in this way? Are they able to leave these object scattered around like this? Who’s responsible for this movement? Is this movement a linked with a political critique or is it merely to serve the purpose of helping others? Is this a struggle for power and resources? This also raises fundamental questions regarding how spaces are used, accessed or repurposed, spaces are dynamic and changing in nature… This is a topic I could potentially investigate further. It is intriguing to notice how for the majority of the public, the city centre is used as a liminal or transitional space for commerce, leisure and movement when in reality the cold and harsh nature is that for some people a shop entrance or street corner is actually their home and not a liminal space, but rather an area of meaning and emotion whether that be good or bad…
Here are some images I have taken…
More on the Keep Bristol Warm Movement…
Keep Bristol Warm #KBW (2017) Facebook. [Online] 11 June 2015. Available from: https://www.facebook.com/keepbristolwarm/ [Accessed 25th February 2017]
Emmaus (2017) Emmaus Bristol support Keep Bristol Warm initiative. Available from: https://www.emmaus.org.uk/bristol/latest/news/2098_emmaus_bristol_support_keep_bristol_warm_initiative [Accessed 25th February 2017]
@KeepBristolWarm (2017) Twitter. [Online] 22 January 2016. Available from: https://twitter.com/warmbristol?lang=en
Yong, M. (2017) ‘Stay warm brave heart’: If you see a scarf around a lamp post next week this is what it’s for. Bristol Post. [Online] 20th February. Available from: http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/if-you-see-a-scarf-tied-around-a-lamp-post-in-bristol-take-it-if-you-need-it/story-30138973-detail/story.html [Accessed 25th February 2017]