…Until You Use Me Up.

On Friday night, Iain and I went to Nottingham to complete our visits to the cities of the East Midlands of England, photographing concrete.

Iain is a ‘proper’ photographer – he’s qualified and everything! He is not someone who has just appended the word ‘Photographer’ to his name and created a website. He actually understands what he is doing and, without overdoing it, he has an artistic integrity that means that is he isn’t entirely happy with a shot, we won’t get to see it. Likewise, his enthusiasm for a photograph that does please him is great to be around.

Similar the photographs I took of star trails and the ISS, I had no real interest in the subject matter before I started taking these. It was just another photographic challenge and an opportunity to learn. Iain’s project is to catalogue the PostPeakCar hypothesis. His photographs show the ‘monstrous’ and ‘robust’ concrete structures the we have littered the landscape with, giving little thought to what happens when people don’t use cars anymore and they become redundant.

As we photographed the structure in Nottingham, I complained that I’d like the traffic to stop for a few minutes to allow a better photograph. We agreed to return and take more pictures when the fly-over had been converted into a bicycle and pedestrian route (with picnic benches) that was being reclaimed by nature…
  Nottingham Concrete 453

Nottingham – 4 minutes under the A52 Clifton Boulevard (the word boulevard just seems so wrong for something that looks like this). Each of these cities had a different ‘feel’. Nottingham felt particularly threatening when wandering around with photography kit in the darkness – no idea why it should have, but we both had the same feeling.

Coventry Concrete In Colour

Coventry – Ok, not strictly East Midlands, but a similar distance away to the others. Shot on a foggy night in October,  under the eastern side of the appalling ring-road that is crushingly ugly and that completely isolates the city centre from its surroundings.

Nottingham Road Tunnel, Derby

Derby – The Nottingham Road tunnel that sits below a massive junction in its ringroad. That space could be dozens of sports pitches, or a park or a space for nature close to the city.

bronny 40 test

Leicester – Taken on a Bronica SQ-A using Kodak TMax 400 and the first picture through my new, old 40mm lens. I actually went back the morning after my visit with Iain to take this. Even though Leicester is home, it was another unnerving place to hang around at night.

Gosia hates these pictures. She sees nothing attractive in them. They are ‘just roads’ and of course she’s right. I’ve used a mechanical process to show other people some large, ugly, concrete structures. There is no art here, just a technical process, like building the road.

I have a sympathy with this view, but when I see stuff from people like Iain, Sander Meisner and Barry Falk, I know that the photographic challenge of creating beauty from these forgotten man-made locations remains. And I’ll keep trying…

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