Monday, 12 May 2008

Sheppey and the Thames Estuary

I was told Isle of Sheppey is 'forgettable' and would be a waste of my time by someone I know. After a few trips to the island I personally think 'forgotten' would be a better word. Sheppey fascinates me - it is has a special feel to it. It gives a sense of being far away, so it is rather strange to know that London is only about 65 km from there, perhaps it is more of a mental state than about geographical location. In many ways full of contrasts - there is neglect, youth with little to do, lots of rubbish but at the same time friendliness, people with a lot of time on their hands, people walking their dogs, tending to their gardens. It is also a place people retire to, Doris, a lady whom I photographed told me 'It is every Londoners dream to live by the seaside'. Sheppey is her realisation of that dream.

I've been pondering over maps, looking at the rest of the Thames Estuary, there are many small places scattered along and big gaps of empty marshland, much of the area is undeveloped. It all awakens my curiosity and I think it could be a relevant project, especially since more and more attention seem to be given to the plan of putting an airport on a man made island in the Estuary (just outside Sheppey) and there are other ideas too, an article in Sunday Times - 'Take a dip in Dubai-on-Thames', outlines the idea for two man made leisure islands in the estuary including marinas. I don't know about Dubai but sounds like there could be another Sandbanks on the way.
If any of these plans go ahead it will for certain change the places along the estuary forever and would impact on communities and wildlife.

So I am expanding my project to places and land along the Thames Estuary rather than just Sheppey. Photographing very much in the same way, using medium format, available light and mixing landscapes with portraits. Also talking to people, trying to get some good quotes.

I went out to Canvey Island yesterday. The light was really strong and horrible for most of the day but I saw lots of good locations to return to when better light, very exciting. I got some shots of a group of 17-year old girls sunning by the beach using a very graffitied wall as shelter, I thought that made a terrific backdrop. I also met a lady who told me about a man called Joe who lives in a mobile home and builds model railways, there is a track running through his garden. He sounds like the kind of person I want to include, hopefully he will agree to be in a picture. I also got the man running the beach cafe terribly worried that I was from health and safety, I had to keep reassuring him I was not.


antrim said...

anna, awesome work! this sounds like a great project, the estuary...and ties into global concerns of what we do with our greenspace. do we preserve it or build on it to make money...? anyway, i'm excited to readyour blog post and look forward to seeing more work, best antrim

Mark Chilvers said...

I love Sheppy, I went there years ago and other than accidentally walking onto a rather cold nudist beach I loved the kitch element of the caravan park and ice cream vendors and the lost island vibe. Nice pics by the way...