Since mid September 2017 I have been in Tanzania, working as the in country photographer for the NGO Raleigh International. After an incredible journey, I recently arrived back in the UK, and have been busy editing the work I made there. I am in the process of updating my website and hope to have the new work online soon.
This week's photo
It was a year to this day that I set off on my journey, walking hundreds of miles across Norfolk and Suffolk, following in the footsteps of one of the regions most brilliant minds. I have sat on the work for the past year, but over the previous month I have began to piece the work together, trying to make sense of the thousands of images and hundreds of pages of diary notes I made during my walk. The series is tentatively called "An English Pilgrimage" and I will have more news about it soon. This photograph was made in the beautiful town of Southwold. I remember finishing my days walk with fish and chips and a pint of Adnams. Good memories.
It was over two and a half years ago when I began walking the Grand Union canal. I recently re-visited a section and came across this area just a few miles from central London. On my first visit there were warehouses stretching all along the canal. When I returned I found that all of these buildings were now rubble, demolished to make way for a new building project. As I stood watching planes coming and going from Heathrow nearby, I thought about how much the landscape is continually changing around us. In only two and a half years this entire landscape was completely unrecognisable. The previous story of this area has now been lost, destroyed for the beginning of a new one.
I have been spending the week making work for my series Sleeplessness. Its been a crazy time, all night walking until day break and then lying in bed all day resting. Last night I got a fright when I was chased by a giant Badger, it was my first ever sighting and hopefully my last. Generally I see nobody all night just the odd fox, drunk person or fellow Insomniac wandering by. So it came as a big surprise when I spotted myself staring back at me in a shop window. It was a truly terrifying moment.
Last month I walked the 100 mile path, the South Downs Way. You can make the journey in either direction, I began in Winchester and ended at the south coast of England in Eastbourne. The walk was deeply significant for me as it marked the end of an important period in my life, as well as the beginning of a new one. Along the way I worked on a series of photographs that hopes to take the viewer on that intimate and personal journey. More images coming soon.
It was around this time last year when I began my walk between London and Birmingham. This picture was one of the first I made as part of my latest series "All Things Pass". The sculpture is one of a pair from the British sculptor Sean Henry. Collectively they are called Standing Man and Walking Man, and can be found at Paddington Basin in London.
I remember my first encounter with the sculptures on a cold winter day. From afar they appeared as two confrontational men, caught in a stand off. Afterwards I waited nearby to watch how others reacted to them as they walked by. Most people ignored them, but some stopped to examine them and have their photograph taken. The most memorable couple separated and stood next to each sculpture. They then walked the adjoining line towards one another until they met in the centre. Upon meeting, they embraced one another and then walked happily away, hand in hand. This memory has come back to me many times during my walk. It's a reminder of the joy I feel when starting out on foot on a new and unpredictable journey.
I have had a busy few months making work, editing and trying to get my latest series of photographs into shape. As part of this process I once again found myself in London, but this time I set out to capture the city from a different perspective. I had never seen London from above and with the exception of visiting the Shard or taking a helicopter ride I didn't have much of a clue where to go to capture an elevated panorama of the city (I would gladly welcome any suggestions). So I spent the day walking from place to place trying to gain access to areas high above the city, and I have to say it wasn't as easy as I had hoped. However, with a bit of determination, a lot of waiting and a few half truths I eventually managed to get some photographs from London's upper levels.
Always on the look out for something to photograph, I came across this curious little place whilst on the B2102 to Brightling. At first, it appeared to be a typical graveyard for old cars, but I soon realised that all of the cars were Jaguars, the quintessential English luxury car. There is something unusually fascinating about photographing decaying objects left outside in the elements. Perhaps it reminds me of the impermanence of things or how with time, even the most precious of objects eventually succumb to nature. Either way I had a ball wondering around a muddy field filled with lots of broken old cars, strangely feeling at home amongst them.
I have recently been making work for a new series near to Milton Keynes. Whilst walking around town, I found it interesting the way it seemed to be designed for the movement of cars rather than pedestrians. I was continually reminded, by the many signs around the city, that pedestrians do not have the right of way, which is reserved for vehicles. At times I found myself having to walk around car parks or along lengthy grid-like boulevards in order to find an underpass simply to cross the road. This makes it a frustrating place for a walker and I spent hours walking around without seeming to get anywhere.
Milton Keynes was re-generated in recent years as a business and retail hub that was soon to become known as "the city of the future" (although it still only has the status of a town). The main source of activity is around a number of shopping malls in the centre. When I first visited "MK" in the 90s it seemed to be a town enjoying financial prosperity, as well as its status as the most modern city in the UK. When I recently visited it looked more weathered, many of the shops had closed down, the nightclubs and bars looked tired, and the many car parks were almost empty.
Milton Keynes is located in Buckinghamshire, which is famous for its lush vegetation, green pastoral landscapes and abundance of trees. When I came across a man on his phone, next to an artificial tree, it seemed to reveal something insightful about the place. For me the scene represented the sense of artificiality I felt in Milton Keynes, which was compounded by the snow dome that can be seen in the background of the photograph.
I made this photograph recently when I was out walking in Amberley. The river is the Arun and at 37 miles (60 km) it is the longest in Sussex. This was once the site of a busy inland shipping route, built to connect London with the English Channel and beyond. However traffic on the route declined due to the railways and it ceased to operate commercially in the 1880's. As I stood taking in the view, I thought back to the successes and failures surrounding the landscape. Once a busy scene where one could see vessels transporting goods has now given way to being a place of leisure, peace and tranquility. The river bend is now a place of calm where I watched patrons of a tea room eating tea cakes and chatting amongst one another. I thought to myself what could be more illogical, yet typically English, than sipping hot tea in the blazing sun. What a bizarre bunch we are.
I have been out and about again recently, making work for my series Perambulation. Although this photograph doesn't really fit in with the series I couldn't help myself from making it. As I walked through an alleyway I peaked over a fence into an adjoining garden. Something about the scene made me think about my own predicament. Like the gnome I was also fishing alone in the countryside, but for me it was not fish I was looking for but for photographs, not knowing where the next one would surface.