Community Project: Arundel Court Junior School after school club

This venture was conceived of at the end of a personal photographic based project, which developed in Landport Community Garden.

The main objectives when working with the children, was to encourage them to begin to look at their surroundings in detail and to really engage with the aesthetic of the garden and beyond. I wanted them to discover things that would have ordinarily have gone unnoticed, to actively see and perceive.

The children undertook a five week course in traditional photography using 35mm film camera. Although many had never used such an out dated camera, they began to explore the visual potential that the slower and more deliberate process could achieve. 


Silentium (silence, stillness, quiet, repose, obscurity)

'I blink in uncertainty at this dream like luminescence feeling as though some misty film were blunting my vision.'

Junichiro Tanizaki 

Set in an urban Community garden, whose physical presence has all but been eliminated from view, the images refer to a space that is implied rather than exposed, where unwanted plants have grown up between the garden boundaries and the protective surface of the polytunnel. This semi opaque surface protects the fragile beginnings of growth as it lets in the sunlight without overheating or scorching. The images depict a perpetual descent into the winter months as the foliage of the Buddleia davidii slowly retracts from the almost invisible fog-like surface of the polytunnel, and the plant begins to shroud itself in mist. This surface begins to suggest a representation of a more physical deterioration of sight or a certain optical fatigue, as the pale glow of the translucent plastic acts as a visual barrier to the outside world. This denial of visual references to scale, place and object, also emphasises the disorientating spatial relationships between the tunnel’s skin and the outside space, an effect heightened by the use of an almost monochrome tonal palette. The images are deliberately flattened by this surface and draws on a distinctly oriental aesthetic, referring to the use of shoji screens.

Paradoxically, the garden becomes integral to the project despite being hidden from the viewer as this insignificant non-space tries to reclaim the wild. The images look away from the garden, beyond the boundary and through the surface that clouds the view. The invasive, unwanted Buddleia davidii tenuously peers through the murk, forcing itself into the frame revealing the unobserved, unremarked remarkable that surrounds us, even in such ordinary settings. The images are predominantly concerned with the temporal nature of the garden space. The project, challenge the audience to address the ‘absence‘ within the frame and throughout the book head on, and urges the viewer to become aware of the mundane, the everyday and the beautiful ordinariness in normal life. They also address the fundamental basis of photography, that of looking and perceiving, and asks the viewer to become more aware of their surroundings. 

'Yet for better or for worse we do love things that bare the marks of grime, soot, and weather, and we love the colours and the sheen that call to mind the past that made them.'

Jenichiro Tanizaki


The garden itself came into existence through a regeneration project to improve deprived areas and is a resource for the local community to grow their own organic food where they have no space of their own to do so. A number of programs have been set up over the last eight years of the gardens life with local schools to combine learning with practical skills. There has also been rehabilitation groups set up in order to support recovering alcoholics and drug abusers in taking the first steps back into employment through volunteering in the garden.

At the Violet Hour

At the violet hour, when the eyes and back
Turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits
Like a taxi throbbing waiting,

The Waste Land, T.S Eliot, 1922, III The Fire Sermon, 215-217

The series is concerned with the aftermath or the non-event. It depicts the time after the occupant has departed, the feeling of ennui, when the space is empty of human presence, and only the creases in the sheets outlining the activity or the non activity of the night, are left.

The photographer essentially becomes a voyeur in this intimate space, the bedroom, but what has been chosen to be shown gives little away about the occupant, as the image denies the viewer visual access to the rest of the room. The images relate to the viewer in terms of landscape. The shallow depth of field, and the attention to the ‘tropistic stimuli’ (light, texture, abstraction) also helps to disorientate the viewer, and so the main concern becomes one of perception, and activity of looking.     

A Side Long View

Having done some travelling, I began to become aware of the actual journey as being visually interesting. It is a time in which, people tend to switch off their minds, and go into another world, with thoughts coming in and out of focus. The pace of thinking changes, as you are propelled through nameless, in-between places, that barely enter your consciousness. Focusing on the window, the thin membrane separating, and protecting you from the outside world, this series relates to the views almost in terms of memory. This protective and seemingly impenetrable surface actually has a certain fragility about it. The surface is merely glass, which can shatter and ultimately be destroyed. It was important to eliminate any visual reference, or interjection, from the inside of the vehicle, except the transparent surface of the window, as I did not want it to be instantly recognisable where or what is being shown. The surface of the window becomes an important device to distract the viewer from the actual landscape, and focuses the attention on the seemingly insignificant, the non-event. The ambiguity of the images, confuses the viewer so that they should become aware of their, “own activity of looking, to an awareness and sort of hyperconsciousness of visual perception.” (Uta Barth in interview with Sheryl Conkelton, 1996).

This work creates an impression of silence - I did not want sound of any kind, other than the unavoidable - I wanted the viewer to be aware of the quietness, but not as negative feeling, rather a calming escapism. This work is predominantly a series of landscapes, but also deals with duration of time, (the fleeting moment) and place, or non-place.