North East Topographica

The North East has a rich industrial heritage which has had a massive impact on its landscape, particularly in the last couple of hundred years. Perhaps the most persistent and invasive of these industries was coal-mining, but in the last 20-30 years this has dwindled to almost nothing as regional resources have diminished and other world resources have proved cheaper to exploit. This body of work touches on how this, and other forms of heavy engineering, such as steel making and shipbuilding have helped shape the man-made landscape, for better or for worse, and how this has impacted on the landscape of the region as a whole.

 

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As the traditional forms of employment in heavy engineering diminished new forms of employment, notably leisure and tourism, have taken over as major employers, with correspondingly different demands on the man-made environment in the forms of building and transport infrastructure.

The photographs aim to tell something of the North East’s relationship with that landscape. How it has been shaped by the economic fortunes of past and present. It looks at some of the contradictions, the nostalgia and the aspirations, but also there is an element of survey photography, recording the way the landscape is now in 2013. In a number of the images I have succumbed to an entrenched desire to make aesthetically beautiful photographs, and I have endeavoured to utilise the tools of the pictorial photographer to produce these. I make no apology for using blue skies and the light of the golden hour to this effect. Indeed I exploit the paradox of the overtly functional and industrial portrayed as the picturesque to instil uncomfortable mixed emotions in the viewer.