Elias Redstone, writing in Shooting Space (1), describes photography’s close relationship with architecture which, he argues, is surprising because photography is synonymous with time whereas architecture is synonymous with space and volume. However perhaps architecture has a closer relationship with time than Redstone is suggesting.
In Britain we live in a man-made landscape, even our areas of wilderness are the result of agriculture or industry or, in the case of our remaining forests, preservation by circumstance rather than design. We are surrounded by the story of monumental acts of landscaping and, onto this landscape, for at least 4,000 years, we have imposed an endless array of structures, homes, farms, factories, castles, walls and ditches, temples and churches, markets and shops.
At first only the great communal projects were built to last, great ditches, raised stones, burial mounds, but in time our ability to preserve wood, quarry stone or make synthetic materials became so refined that even humble buildings could outlast their architects enabling building to outlive their original function whilst remaining valuable as viable structures or as a source of materials for new builds.
This process of architectural evolution has left its mark on both modern and ancient structures, medieval Castles converted into stately homes or chic wedding venues, Victorian factories becoming modern offices, workhouses to hospitals, power stations to art galleries, pubs to shops, petrol stations to roadside cafes. Often the evolution of a structure is less obvious, an architectural palimpsest, traces that show the archeological record of its past, of ancient materials recycled, parts removed, windows patched shut, doorways closed, extensions added or demolished and all pockmarked by the ravages of time.
These traces of former functionality, of materials used for new purposes, of removed components and adjusted structures form a unique historical record of not just the building itself but of how their fabric has been marked by the hands of forgotten owners, architects, artisans and time.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. (2)
We talk much of Time, its fleeting nature, its ability to heal, to work wonders, to prove us right or wrong and its refusal to wait for no man. It defines our understanding of the past, brings structure to the present and measures out the future. We like to think we can own a little piece of it and talk of our time but Father Time watches over us with scythe in hand ready to call time.
But for all our obsession with time it lacks tangible form, it is nebulous, remaining invisible and unseen but always there, marching on from dawn to dusk, from day to day, from year to year, from the big bang to the end of the universe.
The Wall Series
A Wall is often used as a metaphor for a point past which we cannot progress, for shutting out or keeping in, an emotional barrier between people and it is a metaphor for learning with every brick in the wall representing a piece of research that builds an edifice of knowledge.
In this series of seven photographs I see each wall as a record of Time, from the Romans to medieval England to modern Britain. The walls are a metaphor for the passage of time and how as time changes we and the structures we build change along with it.
The Series Presented as a Imaginary Exhibition (click on Image for Full Size)
The story of how this series was developed can be found in the following posts.
(1) Redstone. Elias. (2014) Shooting Spaces: Architecture in Contemporary Photography London: Phaidon Press Limited.
(2) The Bible. Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 (King James Bible)