“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