ASSIGNMENTS – The Story – #10

Some thoughts so far…

Currently, I feel focused on two areas. Two quite separate topics that have been with me for some time.

Firstly, The City (predominantly Newcastle). And, secondly, Allotments. I have wondered if there may be some overlap, however I am certain there isn’t

As a spectator, voyeur and ‘witness’, I have always felt isolated and withdrawn in cities. This aspect interests me. The idea that photographs carry their own independent gravitas and can be authorless is a concept that I am keen to explore. In a recent Tutorial Ed Clarke summarised some of the work to be about ‘Time and Poetry’. I agree. I also consider the recent work to be about the contradictions of city existence: the unrelenting motion of the present marred with the indelible weightiness of the past. Recently, the concept of Poetry and words has begun to play a part in my thinking. I have emailed the Creative Wring Department at Newcastle University for some help on this with the aim of possible collaboration. This part of the project is in its infancy and open to new direction. I would like to further explore image and text, how the two can exist independently and in alliance. Ultimately, it’s about people. I feel there is a sadness mixed with cheerfulness that pervades the folk of the streets. There is a quest for seclusion and solitude either voluntarily or accidently. People search for a place of detachment and composure. I consider myself an outsider, a tourist, a spectator. Not a local or native. There is a curious mirror in my perception of myself and what I see in the community of people. There is a great HCB quote ‘I was there, and this is how life appeared to me at that moment.’ I am uncertain where this project will go.

Allotments – over the winter months, this project has stagnated a little. Mainly because the sites themselves go through a kind of shut down or hibernation. However, I have now made contact and visited sites in Darlington, Newcastle and one of the smaller villages in County Durham; life on site is starting to reappear and the focus for the next stages of the project is very much about the people. I have also made contact (and about to visit) some inner-city pigeon keepers and their lofts (one of these is based on an allotment site in Newcastle). My intent is still much the same as before. How do such places fit in with contemporary society, how is the cultural heritage of allotments/pigeon keeping being kept alive? The struggles, the grass-roots politics, the notion of urban gardening as a leisure activity? The communal v. the individual. I have always felt a powerful sense of unity on allotments, this is proven to be true, however they are also places of ‘micro-governments’ and hushed anarchy. In two weeks’ time I will be visiting a rural Durham farm who live off grid and are totally self-sufficient, hopefully I will get to spend a couple of days there.