I really like Salisbury, but my impression of the city after living here for nearly two years now is that it is a town on the decline. Salisbury is an old town with a lot of history, naturally the beautiful gothic cathedral is the major draw to the place. During the summer, tourists have flooded here from all over the world. It’s a busy place during this period, but come the winter things become quieter.
As I have walked around the town doing my street photographs I can’t help but become aware of the shops closing all over the town. Monsoon went some time ago, Strada closed recently as did La Molina (which I blogged about earlier). Shops like Nando’s and H&M have opened up in town recently, but these shops can be found in most towns. My suspicion is that people will bypass Salisbury, unless they live locally, as there is nothing beyond the cathedral to draw them in. So, one morning a few weeks ago, I walked around the place and photographed all the empty shops I could find. I was going to say that happily in the last week or two several shops have opened up in those places. However, they are just existing shops in the town relocating to another area – so now new businesses seems to have actually started, yet
Salisbury does have some really good features about it, it has a small but thriving art community, some nice local shops, and some good intimate music festivals during the summer. There are things going on here, but if you are not careful it is easy to miss them.
My interest in Salisbury is not to document my perception of it’s apparent decline, but to capture the life as it is lived here at this time. It’s just seems to be at the present moment that the town is not going through one of it’s better periods.
Last winter I did a project on photographing life on the streets of Salisbury at night, which I exhibited in the town over the summer. Taking photographs on the streets at night is one of my favourite things in photography. Being outside in the dark, watching life (admittedly not much on some occasions) and photographing it has been useful. Particularly when I am working in the day and only really have a few hours spare to shoot things.
Last year I focused on art documentary black and white photographs. I like the work that I produced then, but I don’t want to go over the same old ground again this year. That’s a bit boring. So, this year I thought I might focus on colours, patterns and things that imply the presence of people – rather than straight people portraits per se. I am not sure where it will go this project over the winter, but it will be interesting to see what I end up with.
For the last couple of years I have really focused primarily on black and white images, but since working on the Swanage project over the summer (I am due to go down there again very soon to start shooting the winter work) I have shifted my view to really enjoy working in colour. This year’s night walks project is probably just an extension of that line of thinking. The thing with photography, for me at least, is that if I work in black and white I tend to ‘see’ the world in black and white. If I work in colour I tend to ‘see’ the world in colour – digital colour at the moment (which is a bit clinical and cold for my liking). I think that’s probably my mind trying to pre visualise what a photograph will look like once it is taken!
P.S. I was out shooting in the town last weekend to add some more images to the “Town to let” blog I recently posted. However, I haven’t had the time this week to sit down, process the work, and write a more in-depth article on the story. Hopefully, I will get that one done in the next week or so.