Remarkable things happen in the transition zone between air and water, especially along the waterline of boats where wonderful textures and colours are created by the corrosive effects of sun, wind and salt water.
The charming seaside town of Southwold on the coast of Suffolk, England, has been a source of photographic subjects for me for several years. I am particularly attracted to the area around the small working harbour in the mouth of the river Blythe. Here longshore fishermen still take fish from the North Sea as they come in season, and sell them fresh from several fish ‘sheds’.
The harbour is also a popular centre for leisure craft, including a flourishing yacht repair and maintenance business. While the harbour offers lovely vistas of boats on the water and a charming view across the river to the village of Walberswick, my photographic eye has been drawn to the ‘found abstracts’ available on the battered boats that have been taken from the water for repair and refit. There I’ve found a wealth of opportunity for creative photography.
It is an easy trip to drive from my home along the 40 miles of country back roads to Southwold and then back again. Each time I explored Southwold I became more aware of the delightful colours and textures to be found along the waterline of these boats. I quickly found beauty in the result of weathering and decay caused by neglect and the exposure to the elements. This is an unusual subject, in that it is constantly changing. Each time I returned to the harbour I would find that repaired boats had been returned to the sea and tired-looking boats had taken their place. While waiting their turn to be patched painted and restored I was provided with a fresh opportunity to make new images.
Since most of my work is close-ups of derelict buildings, rusted metal, graffiti and peeling paint, it seems only natural that I would be drawn to these timeworn boats as well. These subjects allow me to apply my love of photography to my love of abstract and minimalist subject matter.
During the past five years I’ve returned to Southwold many times, and gradually built up a collection of abstracts. In this Waterline series I’m pleased to commemorate boats of all kinds, and their constant battle with the corrosive effects of the sea.