Tom Parish

© Tom Parish

Arched-roof, man-made caves dot the landscape of the Flint Hills region of Kansas, the area I have called home for most my life. These native stone constructions are often all that remain of early homesteads and may represent the last traces of the people who built and relied on them. The shelters exude a spirit or soul, possibly due to their resemblance to ancient crypts or religious holy places. The chisel marks on the native stone, which was harvested from local quarries or gathered from surrounding pastures, are like the lines on your hand, unique to each individual structure. I have come to admire these structures for their hidden beauty and importance to the lives of early homesteaders.

I have spent a great deal of time researching and looking for these often elusive structures, wandering the landscape in hopes of stumbling upon them, and talking to locals for leads. I have now found nearly 300 arched subterranean shelters, documenting each and attempting to discover as much historical information about them as I can. Through my photographs I hope to preserve and present these structures in a new and visually stimulating way, using technologically advanced photographic techniques to create 360-degree impressions of their interiors. I photograph each structure in a standardized way, exposing its subtle, unique characteristics, documenting what has been left behind, and showing the fingerprint-like quality left by the people who built it. Through my treatment, these hidden cavities become more like split-open geodes, revealing the beauty hidden inside.

These arched-roof structures were not large scale projects. Rather, they were built by individuals or families to sustain lives and provide security in times of crisis. Sometimes all that is left of the people who relied on these structures is a crypt-like cavity in the ground. I hope viewers will take the opportunity to reflect on their own role in the world, what they themselves have created or helped to create, and what legacies they will leave behind. Life is fragile and tenuous. We have lessons to learn by examining these humble structures.

— Tom Parish, Emporia, Kansas, USA

© Tom Parish

© Tom Parish3

Tom Ridout

© Tom Ridout

The development of the Blandscape series started as a reaction to the rapid loss of farmland as a result of commercial development. The existing rural landscape was obliterated and in its place large formless buildings were constructed. A token of nature was offered in the small buffer strips at the bases of the buildings. Plants appear here in many cases as icons that signal the conceptual importance of nature while at the same time relegating nature to an insignificant gesture, verifying our need to dominate it. Ironically it is the disregard for scope and scale in the built landscape that creates such striking and banal images. Single plants take on strong figurative meaning through their isolation of form and color. The complete lack of human architectural scale combined with strict formal landscape principles elevates the visual impact of the scene.

— Tom Ridout, Acton, Ontario, Canada

© Tom Ridout

Tom Janssen

In 2007 I attended for half a year the Dublin University of Technology in Dublin, Ireland. Back then, the economic growth was not as huge as it had been in the second half of the nineties, but from 2001 to 2007 the Irish economy was still booming.

I will never forget paying 500 Euros rent for a shared room, whereas in Holland I paid 300 Euros for a private one. This was largely due to the growth in housing investments — which more than doubled between 1996 and 2006. Taken into perspective with today’s knowledge, this was one of the reasons why Ireland was hit so hard during the 2008 economic crisis.

With investments this big, you can imagine how many construction sites were popping up in Dublin. This change of landscape reflected “The Irish Boom” more than anything for me. The main focus of the series is the areas where the largest part of the expansion took place: the fringe of the city, where vast amounts of empty land were made ready for construction. This is also where the series derived its title: Dublin Border.

— Tom Janssen, Utrecht, The Netherlands