A short time after completing the exercises on ‘Searching’ and ‘Series’, I found myself on Crosby Beach near Liverpool and the site of Anthony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’. Now I’ve always been fascinated by what washes up on beaches, so once I’d felt I’d done as much as I could with Mr Gormley’s figures I turned my camera down and brought back around 50 photographs of Crosby Beach’s finest offerings.
To be fair to Crosby, it’s position at the mouth of the Mersey, proximity to large cities and busy shipping lanes make it an unlikely spot to find the best of Britain’s marine life and so it transpired. There’s a shocking amount of plastic – I know this is very topical right now and in the news a lot, but to actually walk among it really brings home what a serious situation it is. Of the 50-odd photographs, probably 35 are plastic rubbish items, 10 are shells, wood, seaweeds, and the rest washed up remains.
I decided to re-run the Series exercise with these to see what developed, and quickly whittled the selection down to 16:
In this first layout I’ve concentrated on looking for shapes that compliment each other, particularly something natural paired with something man-made. I also observed that in some twisted sense some of the items of man-made rubbish were more visually appealing / cleaner / nicer than the mucky / dirty / decaying natural items.
16 images laid out like this felt too overwhelming. The eye flits from one to another, making some associations but never settling. Focusing on the shapes, I selected 4 that I felt went together more strongly than others:
However I tend to prefer things in odd-numbers, and swapped to these 3, which repeat a rough diamond shape:
I then tried another combination, and noticed how the line of washed up seaweed could be made to flow through the set – this was exciting!
I played around with some other compositions, going back to 4 images as the numbers seem less relevant when they’re not all lined up:
And here is the final image: