Back in July 2014 I visited an exhibition called Beyond the Border. I gave it a brief and inconsequential write up in my Documentary blog but like so many of these things it is only later that something of import pops back to the surface. The blog post makes a quick reference to the idea that some of the photographers at least were using photography as a way to reconnect to their roots. In particular my contemporaneous notes draw attention to Anthony Sutton-Hibbert’s “Edge of Empire” and a comment he made about using the project to reconnect after 10 years abroad.
This idea intersects in my mind with some of the written notes from Hatakeyama’s ‘Terrils’ project…in particular his discussion says that “…it is impossible for me to appreciate fully what was once here but is here no more.”
In my opening discussions with my tutor I said that I felt the old blast furnace sites I’m photographing deserved some memorial, which they appear not to have currently. His challenge was “Who is asking for a memorial?” and my initial response was no-one – which felt wrong to me. But perhaps it’s me that is calling for the memorial. Perhaps I am using my photography and my imagination to extend my memory into a past I did not experience.
I’m not a native of Cumbria…in fact it’s hard to argue I’m a native of anywhere, but I’m beginning to wonder if this project, and some of the projects I did in Landscape and Documentary aren’t my way of forcing some roots in to a location I now call home.