A Changed Land
When the Nottinghamshire Coalfield in central England reached highest production output there were 30 collieries in operation. Coal production at Gedling Colliery began in 1902 and continued until 1991. Over 70 million tons of coal was mined and at its most productive in 1924 there were more than 3884 men working there. 130 miners died on site.
Photographing over a five year period Jim Denham and I walked the whole site and in all weather: from bleached-blinding hot summer days to painful-cold blue winter. We continually photographed using both digital and analogue.
Our images are a reaction to and a record of the joining point between the death of industrial coal extraction and the conversion of the landscape to controlled recreation and leisure. We feel lucky to have been in the right place at the right time and to have witnessed a short pause in a changing land.
— Paul Harrison & Jim Denham, Nottingham, England
Traditional stalls that sell churros, the popular Spanish fried-dough pastry-based snack, may have their days numbered in the city of Barcelona. In 1990, its city council decided to stop granting new licenses for their permanent installation in the public space. The current regulation only allows the transfer of licenses between relatives in the first degree of consanguinity, that is, from parents to children. But, in most cases, they are not interested in taking over the business.
The lack of generational changeover adds up to a drop in sales due to the current economic crisis, putting these businesses at risk. These two factors have forced many owners to finally pull the plug. At the moment, there are only over twenty stalls in the whole city, very few compared to the about 70 that existed 25 years ago. If no legal changes are made, in a few years churro stalls will no longer be a part of Barcelona’s urban landscape.
The Urgell Cantonada Borrell series catalogues the few stalls still open today. The title of the project is a reference to a popular Catalan children’s song that talks about an imaginary churro stall located at the junction of Urgell and Borrell streets in Barcelona, an impossible intersection, as both streets are parallel. The project explores the loss of one’s own childhood emotional landscape on a personal level and the loss of identity of big cities on a more general level.
— Oscar Ciutat, Barcelona, Spain
My project titled Unintentional Sculptures was created during the years 2015 to 2017 within the suburban landscape of Attica, Greece, which has gone through a great deal of changes due to the economic crisis.
I explored the landscape and decided to focus and highlight the man-made constructions that reveal the economic and building activities of the recent past.
These constructions — some unfinished and some timeworn — have finally transformed the natural landscape with their enigmatic forms in the most permanent way.
— Vassilis Konstantinou, Athens, Greece
In this documentary project I have focused on a group of Iranian youths who go to nature for a couple of days. They want to spend their holiday in calmness. They choose a place where they are deserted from others, but even in such a place something is wrong. Something is not under their control. It seems that they bring their boredom with them. All of this has a conspicuous effect on their relationships and surrounding nature.
— Behnam Sadighi, Tehran, Iran
Despite the archaic sprawl and unaccommodated loneliness pervading America’s byways, there remains the oldest, most striking structures of all. One guards a rocky crest overlooking U.S. Route 19 near Rocky Gap, West Virginia, forming a mise en scène resembling a contemporary play. As if waiting for me to pass, a solitary Ocotillo Cactus stands aside the road in California’s desert. Along Lincoln Highway in Pennsylvania, we see power lines stretching over a tree stump, as if to make claim to the territory. Trees sprout up in the most surprising places. During long stretches of time driving, it is difficult not to begin to anthropomorphize, to attribute these trees human characteristics. In cities we have parks deliberately constructed and trees planted according to the phenomenological goals of urban planners. These arboreal roadside companions seem to eschew any of that. Instead they stand as objects of serendipitous beauty, unintentionally placed yet completely appropriate.
— John Sanderson, New York City
“Now we have our country back”
The Holderness coastline in Yorkshire’s East Riding is one of the most vulnerable coastlines in Europe, retreating on average between one and two metres a year, although in exceptional weather conditions up to ten metres of cliff face have been known to disappear overnight. Whether a particular stretch of coastline is protected or not depends on the economic value of the land. Thus, areas which contain cheap housing and caravans which are sparsely distributed remain unprotected. This regime is known as “managed retreat”. To live on this coast, even in those protected areas, must require a degree of defiance and fatalism that would be hard for most of us to imagine.
This is also a part of the country which voted strongly in favour of leaving the European Union in last year’s bitterly contested referendum debate. The title, “Now we have our country back”, refers to the hoped-for final outcome of the winners’ campaign, to a particular graffiti celebrating this success and to the clear irony encapsulated by this graffiti written on a protective concrete block placed across a road which can be seen, in the middle distance, to be gradually slipping into the North Sea.
— Adam Dunning, Chesterfield, England
For the past several decades, I have focused on the mankind-made and -altered landscape. Verdure is a departure from this in that there is no obvious evidence of “the hand of mankind” altering the landscape. This project started out as an ostensibly documentary series of bittersweet vines’ ability to overcome just about any plant, tree or even structure, covering them in relatively short order. The series quickly morphed and became more purely a study of abstraction in greenery, with an “all-over-ness” approach, a description used by a couple of abstract painter friends.
While my usual approach is to examine the mankind-altered landscape, another aspect of my work is that mentioned above: abstraction in that landscape. (See Rockface on my website.) Very loosely defined, the Verdure images fit into the altered landscape approach, as they are of the results of landscape being exposed when roads are built. Trees grow differently then and bittersweet and grape vines find new armatures, as it were, on which to spread – rampantly – as they are exposed to full sun.
Andrew Buck, Farmington, Connecticut, USA
25,000,000 m3 Is a study of man altered landscape created as a consequence of violence and the ideas in the physical remnants of the city.
Teufelsberg (Devil’s Mountain), located in South West Berlin and surrounded by forest, is one of the highest points of the capital. This hill is used by the city’s residents for various leisure activities such as hiking, skiing, and cycling. However its natural surroundings belie its darker origins. A partly constructed military college designed by Albert Speer originally occupied the site. In the aftermath of the Second World War the rebuilding of devastated German cities took place.
One solution to deal with building rubble left was to use the material to form a Trümmerberg or rubble mountain. Huge volumes of debris were turned into such earthworks the largest in Berlin being Teufelsberg, which also covered the ruins of the aforementioned military college. Later with the division of the city the summit of the hill was the location of an NSA listening station, now abandoned.
25,000,000 3m studies not only the surface of Teufelsberg and its landscape, but also the layers of the destroyed city it is created from. Combining images of the hill’s topography and surrounding landscape whilst revealing what is buried under the surface, I am attempting to give physical presence again to the city’s past structure and the issues that arise from this.
The second part of this approach is via a process of recasting the shattered building fragments found on the hill using plaster. By duplicating them but removing colour and fine texture leaving only surface details, relief of layers of residue and marks. The emphasis less about the objects as individuals, but more about the wider investigation into the absence of a city’s past buildings.
This is an attempt to explore an idea of revealing what is hidden, buried in the landscape. Glimpses and fragments of what was once the city’s structures remain, leaving it impossible to experience the buildings and landscape as a whole.
— Ben Bird, London
Between the years of 1830 to 1860, Richmond, Virginia was the largest source of enslaved Africans supplying the east coast of the United States with slave labor. The three-mile Richmond Slave Trail, created in 2011, contains 17 points. It spans from the slave ships’ entry point at Manchester Docks to the Lumpkins Slave Jail, an area also known as the Devil’s Half Acre. These images are part of a larger narrative, which documents the Underground Railroad, former sites of slave markets and the role slavery has played in American history.
Throughout the last 170 years the sites have lived several lives or incarnations: the Old Negro Burial Ground was a dog pound in the 1930’s and used by Virginia Commonwealth University as a parking lot in the 1970’s. The asphalt was removed six years ago and it is now an empty grass field. There is a haunting silence, belying the violence of being a former site of slave hangings and bodies being discarded to unmarked graves.
The Richmond Slave Trail exists as an acknowledgement and a continuing work in progress towards a culture recognizing its problematic past and how it formed the socio-economic climate of this country.
— Ajay Malghan, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
A thousand years ago the inhabitants of the mountain valleys of the Andes painstakingly transformed the landscape, sculpting terraces out of the mountainsides and turning marginal land into productive fields. The population boomed and the surplus from these crops formed the economic basis of the Wari and Inca empires.
Since the turn of the 20th century, a vast migration from the countryside to the cities has taken place. Small capitals have transformed into metropoles. The settlements of these new inhabitants sprawl into the hills and nearby mountains.
Mountain fields like stairways of stone is a handmade artist book with black and white photographs exploring these landscapes; the ancient rural and the modern urban. The book draws visual parallels between the practice of hillside crop terracing and the more recent phenomenon of massive and informal urban development. I am interested in exploring both the continuities and disruptions in human alternations to the landscape as written on the land in South America.
— Thomas Locke Hobbs, Los Angeles