Recently, Simon and I visited Swanage to continue our work on the project. One of the things that was in my mind before I drove down there was ‘what’s this project actually about?’ It’s been one of those projects which is really enjoyable to do, but continually unclear as to what the major themes are, beyond that of colours and contrasts.
Previously, we had spent much of our time photographing around the beach and town centre. This time we concentrated more on the back streets. Walking around what felt like the lesser explored part of the town was fascinating. It also added a whole new dimension to the project – that of depth. There was a strong physical sense of space, but also psychological depth – in terms of town’s character.
The physical depth between the thin strip of beach marks the division between land and sea, this was the most populous part of the town (obviously, especially so in the summer). The backstreets were much quieter, silent even. The streets became elements that defined local identity and character – beyond what is seen in the touristic sea front (as a person who grew up in Cornwall, I am very used to the impact of tourism on communities). What we found was a more subtle and quirky world – the previous post shows two large toy tigers ‘lazing’ on a roof top. We also saw numerous other interesting items. However, at the moment, the films containing the latent images are still stored in my freezer…
I suspect this contrast will be probably the major theme for the work – the contrast between the ‘public’ beach and the more ‘personal’ backstreets, where more subtle ‘off camera’ (as such!) performances are held to be a bit Goffman about it all.
Hopefully, when we return to the town in the summer, we will continue to build up this picture of the town. What’s enjoyable about the project, but also what’s challenging about it, is it’s exploratory nature. Not quite knowing where it is going to go is part of the fun, but also part of the difficulty. Holding that tension is my challenge…!