The border by the sea

A beautiful walk, light coming and going and a sense of discovery, trying to answer the question……Where does a border end? At the cliff edge? At the last post? The last pebble? The last picnic place, the last house or  in the gentle lap of the sea which erodes everything?

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The last house in Scotland – a smuggler’s bothy with the light reflected close to the actual borderline as it enters the sea.

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Incredible clear water – due to the distance between accessible points at the base of the cliff – the border has no human touch as it crosses into the sea

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The last picnic place

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The last post……..

On the Border at Berwick

Just north of Berwick is another lay-by for people to stop to rest or record their crossing.  This time the flags dominate.  The ‘Scottish side’ had fine flags:

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Spent time trying to capture them with a perfect furl, in shadow and light:

and their location with the view across to the english flags:

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and then the ‘English side’:

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The English flags, including one from Northumberland were tattered and twisted.

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I also shot some video which may become something later. I also shot on the large format camera which mirrored some of the video and stills shots.

Ovingham Cabins

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I walked past the cabins at Ovingham, they are like little frontier cabins cut out of the forest and domesticated by neat borders, planted flowers, and sense of small plots of private property.

The soft focus of the hand held Ensign camera, this time using blue biased Fuji colour film, produced a nostalgic feeling. Time lost through colour inaccuracy – this was hand developed in the University dark room….

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I also shot a black and white film of a single cabin just up a separate track away from the main group:

Complete with its own pizza oven in the woods

 

 

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I am planning a series of photoshoots to record the simplicity of the English Scottish Border as a symbol of old nationalisms rising and recreating new geographies.

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My first intended site is the crossing at Carter Bar, high in the Cheviot Hills and site of historic batlles and truce meetings from previous eras of the contested border.

I also am trying to get a sense of all of the sites – possibly as a series of photography/video responses. First link is to Hugh Pumphrey’s blog and a post on a trip to review the eastern end of the border, earlier in March this year.

Hugh’s Map, below, I hope he does not mind my reproduction and link to his excellent blog, identifies 28 possible crossings (with some discrepancy as the road is the border in places). Number 17, Carter Bar, and 18, the road beyond Keilder water are the two most local and known to me.

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also of interest is the physical remains of the Scots Dyke – hard to identify and maybe hard to access.  The location of the best section of the remaining mound seems to be set within a wood, this will offer a different visual perspective.

Colour film

In the University to develop new colour films in the dark room.  The process is controlled mechanical and machined – the results organic.  The negatives are full of unknown colours when they shine from the light box

scans reveal a colour nostalgia, as if from a previous time and place.

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The red of the bucket is mixed in the 1970’s – the whole is a en elegant iPhone filter…..except it is the real thing!

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The last is a bit more on theme – a shot of the ‘new boundary’ bisecting the river walk path, a new border brought to being for no clear reason.

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More boundaries

Thinking about the obtrusive fencing found throughout the footwork of Lee Friedlander in his urban street scenes, but it is everywhere.  These edited phone and DSLR shots record obstacles in the way from Paris’s Eiffel Tower to Hexham’s Tyne green.

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Tyne Green’s earthworks.

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Post and chain link:

and passive agressive signage:

The new fence

Recorded on film, some images of a new imposition in our landscape.  This new fence has no real explanation, dividing a field for no clear reason.  There are still no stock to control or different crops to separate and no obvious change in ownership.  The fence cuts through the landscape, cuts paths, creates a slowing, restricts movement, perhaps innocently and without real damage, but it is a possessive act by persons unknown. Defining and restricting space like the photographs of Lee Friedlander.

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Sticks, Stones and Little Screens

Two books out of the library on Lee Friedlander are very helpful in looking for an aesthetic for ideas of border and enclosure.

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The Little Screens, by Saul Anton, precisely describes the importance of a series of photos by Friedlander, here seen as  “One Work” –  part of a series of analytical titles  under the title After all books, published by  the University of the Arts, London and MIT, 

The work captures the disjointedness of space that the images on television cut into a room or updated and in our current world, the distortion of the Black Mirrors that are our phones and iPads.  The Little Screens have more accidental life than the formal motel bedrooms in Friedlander’s survey, but this is an imposed attraction, in the photos eyes watch furtively, hands threaten with guns, bodies are draped to sell products.  The parody of our unthinking gaze, ignoring the surreal clashes created, ignoring the disturbing imagery, sharply critiques our acceptance of this visuall distortion in our safe and neutral spaces.

Strong raking compositions are a feature of Sticks and StonesThe Fraenkel gallery’s comprehensively visual catalogue of Friedlander’s architectural photography for their 2004 exhibition of this important group of work. There are 196 square format images that record the specifics of american urban space.  People seem to feature only by accident. Individuals are described  through the division of city or small town space, the marked out garden boundaries or the high security fences that define an individual property.  The imposition of street furniture, poles, signs, lock and control the compositions and our ability to look inside them.  The  focus on the wasteland, the broken and the abandoned in many of the pictures, reflects the wastefulness and closed down feeling of these privatised but often neglected cityscapes.  Even where individual buildings dominate, most often a blank or unwelcoming wall turns ‘homes’ into forbidding ‘fortresses’.

The book layout is a double page with minimum borders, so each square format image reacts to its neighbour – the horizons are angled and do not flow between the two.  The packed angular forms, nothing is every straight vertically or horizontally, jar and clash with each other and create a sense of forcefully flattened space, blocked or partioned, access prohibited where it is hard to move forward or access the space depicted.

Somehow some of the captured space of reflected screens as seen in the dark mirror experiment, I want to combine with the contested and excluded spaces of the Brighton Baths or Tynemouth Pool or other more local boundaried spaces.

Reference:

Anton, S. (2015) Lee Friedlander, The Little Screens. London: After all Books.

Enyeart, J. (2004) Lee Friedlander, Sticks and Stones, Architectural America. Fraenkel Gallery: San Francisco.

 

Ballast Hill Film

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(also of his wife Jane and several of their Children (sic))

Scanned film of the visit to Ballast Hill – the informal non-conformist burial ground on Newcastle’s western perimeter – now an area of open space with graves stones for paths, surrounded by scrap yards and the church.  This black and white could be the subject for the work for the Cathedral project.

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