Town to let

One thing that has really struck me again as I walked around Salisbury is just how many shops are closed or in the process of closing. A few weeks ago I went for a walk around town taking photographs of the closed shops. I must admit, I did feel quite self-conscious taking shots of empty shop windows in the middle of the day! But, at the time I felt that it was important to document and record the sheer number of shops falling into disuse in the town.

The shot below is of La Mollina, which closed yesterday. It’s really sad to see a local business go under. However, Fish Row is fast becoming the ‘to let’ capital of Salisbury. Part of me thinks in terms of businesses it’s more like death row. It’s a shame as the street is certainly one of the nicest areas of the centre. I noticed that on the upstairs window of the Forever England shop there is a ‘to let’ sign. Either the shop is moving or going, who knows?

I wrote a post a few weeks ago titled clone town. If you read what the owner of La Mollina wrote on the photo below, it’s proof of the point I made then about identikit ruling the roost. I haven’t lived in the area long enough to know the history of the town in terms of shops, but I can’t help feeling that whoever is making decisions about developing the centre is getting it badly wrong.

I think what I might do is get out early for a few mornings and photograph the closed shops. The state that some are left in; the unopened mail piling up near the letter boxes; the discarded items inside, like chairs, heaters, cooking equipment etc. tell us a story about loss and failure. The shops are a sad testimony to the business phrase ‘adapt or die’…

La Mollina
La Mollina Tapas Bar on Fish Row, Salisbury

Harrods of Wilton

I have just started doing some photography work for The Burnbake Trust, which is a local charity based in Wilton. The trust started out helping people leaving prison and returning back into the community, something it still does today. It also helps disadvantaged families to get essential items via referrals from the local health and social care services.

I asked them if I could document the work that they do, and this weekend was the first part of that process. They run three shops in Wilton and a warehouse, as well as various fundraising events. My visit to them at the Berwick St John Country Fayre yesterday was to document one of their events. They are also doing several more soon, which I also hope to cover. I am looking forward to photographing their day-to-day operation; that is the shops, warehouse and vans that deliver goods to people in need.

It’ll certainly be interesting building up a picture of the charity over time. I was impressed when I went to visit them some weeks ago to present my ideas, they were very busy and there was a lot of work that was going on behind the immediately obvious face of the shops. This really impressed me, but also gives me a focus to the work as it is not obvious at all about how busy the operation is. I think documenting this and highlighting it to the general pubic will be a major part of the story.

Locally, due to the items that they sell (household items, such as fridges, kettles, cutlery, crockery, etc. and other things kindly donated) they are known in a tongue-in-cheek way as the ‘Harrods of Wilton’. I kind of like this name!

(I have set up a separate page (The Burnbake Trust) to show the pictures as the project develops. As usual, the pictures will change over time as the work changes. Click on the thumbnails to bring up the full size images.)

Early mornings

Over the last weekend I have made an effort to get up early and do some landscape work (believe me, it is an effort!). I haven’t done this kind of stuff for years. I feel that I need to do some more work on the Landlines project (all of my projects are generally long-term, as I like to move things around depending on my mood. I currently have four projects on the go: Salisbury Nights, Landlines, Remembrance and Swanage. I quite like having multiple bodies of work on the go at the same time. I am also due to start another project for a local charity this month, which will probably be a lot ‘tighter’ in focus than the work above.

Anyway, back to the early mornings. It was really nice to get up early and shoot in a slow, methodical way using a tripod. The early morning light was lovely. I particularly liked the pre-dawn light (see the shot below). This was my favourite light, as it looked great but also allowed a lot of detail to be revealed in the landscape. I would love to get more shots like this. A dominant feature of the landlines project is about shooting in flat light to increase tonality in the shots. As soon as the sun was up, the landscape would become too contrasty for my project.

I am going to keep shooting early in the mornings (probably at the weekends, due to work commitments) and see how the project continues to shape up over time.