For me photography is a form of research: a kind of contemporary archaeological investigation into myself, the world I find myself in and the entanglement between them. I photograph everyday places in which I find a feeling of resonance, or a disorientation and uncertainty, perhaps even a kind of haunting. I then follow up these feelings in my work.
Western Edge is an ongoing project looking at the area just to the west of the Black Country, part of the West Midlands conurbation in the UK. The Black Country was so called because of the heavy industries concentrated in the area. The area to its west is designated as greenbelt in order to preserve it as ‘the playground of the Black Country’ and to prevent the encroachment of urban sprawl. This regulated space acts as a buffer between the city and the more distant countryside.
The contemporary idea of the countryside and nature as a site for pleasure and relaxation came into being as a reaction to industrialisation. This romantic idea depends on the existence of the city, from which the countryside appears to be peripheral. Today this area’s proximity to the Black Country remains a large part of its identity with visitors coming to walk and enjoy the scenery. Yet this place is also a place in its own right, one that has a history going back long before the industrial revolution when the conurbation came into being. There are traces of people living here since at least the Iron Age and there are vestigial remains of woodlands and heaths that once covered the whole region. Layers of history and present day reality are superimposed in the landscape. Sometimes they are partly concealed and also perhaps partly imagined. The urban area is not visible in my photographs but it remains present just out of sight.
These photographs are my research into this place in which I live. They look at questions about sense of place and what that might be. At the same time this is entangled with my own personal memories and experiences.
ABOUT ANNE GIDDINGS
Anne is interested in landscape and place and her responses to them. She can trace this back to her childhood when she would often accompany her father on geography field trips. In her first degree, she studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge and pursued interests in geology and psychology. More recently she studied art and was fortunate to have been introduced to the potential of photography by an inspiring tutor. Currently she is studying for an MA in Celtic Studies with UWTSD, which is deepening her knowledge of the early history of Britain and the myths and legends recorded in early Welsh literature. These diverse interests are all tied up with landscape and place, as well as identity and its construction.
Her work has been included in many group exhibitions at venues which include Quad in Derby and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, and most recently Photospace in Ludlow.
Unless otherwise stated, all words and images in this article are © Anne Giddings