One thing that is great about writing a blog is that it gets you to revisit bodies of work. I carried out a residency in 2005 at my local park. Saltwell Park has a rich history and is an amazing place to visit. It hosts the excellent Enchanted Parks event which is also well worth a look to get you in the mood for Christmas.
The residency that I carried out was self instigated and something that I felt the needed to do to develop my creative practice. I was drawn to Saltwell Park as I had an awareness of its history and that this park like so many others throughout the UK held a special place within the local communities hearts, minds and heritage. For me the most fascinating part of this residency was the personal relationships that have been developed within this outstanding award winning space. My strategy was to photograph floral specimens within the park and show them from a new view, up close and personal if you like. I chose to photograph the details that can be missed, macro photography gave me the impact that I was looking for. You will see included here images of different varieties of flora and fauna that explore the diversity of planting and the intricate structures that are held within each stunning species.
In addition to the floral images that I produced I also created intimate portraits of some of the local residents that had a rich personal relationship with the park. Ozzy and Anne who are pictured below had some beautiful stories to tell about their life-long relationship with the park. I did record these stories and these were pipped through the sound system with the Saltwell Towers building, while large canvas prints of the flowers were installed as part of an exhibit for the re-opening of the park.
The park was originally called “The People’s Park” its main purpose was to give peace, tranquility and respite from the challenging living conditions of the late 1800’s. I like to think that the healing properties of nature are still at work in Bensham today. This project made me think about man and nature and how there is at times a conflict between our technological advancement and our natural origins. This is something that I later explored through the Masters that I carried out at Sunderland University. Click on the link to see the final installation Transmutations.
The area that I am most interested in exploring is the documentation of personal photographic archives and the documentation of individual personal life experiences. Many of the stories that people have are not necessarily documented. They may be passed down through generations but like Chinese whispers they are embellished and distorted by time and recollection. For now I will leave you with the images of Ozzy and Anne, which I feel say so much about the rich tapestry of experience that life leaves upon us all eventually.
Oh and here is one last image of the formidable Doug Clayton the amazing park keeper of Saltwell Park!!