5.1.1 River Edges

This project further develops Assignment 2.1 Bridge

Along the river is an ancient tow path, probably used since Viking or maybe Roman times, along linking Cambridge with the Diocese of the Isle of Ely some 20 miles away. The section of the River Cam in Chesterton has a long history of tensions between the University and local people. Local people used to be largely rural farmers, now large farms and riding stables who seem to send smelly effluent into a small stream along the tow path. Adding on some warm days to the smell from sewage works at Milton. The section river has long been dominated by the University rowers who practise every day, with accompanying cyclists looking through their cam corder lens and often not noticing people and dogs in their way. Recent high-tech development at the Cambridge Science Park and the new railway station at Cambridge North mean that the area has become very upmarket – a place for joggers and walkers. This will further increase with a new cycleway across the River Cam.

Beyond the railway bridge the area transitions to countryside with a large Traveller site where many seasonal migrant workers as well as the traditional traveller community stay. With horse and cart drivers, and rumours of greyhound racing and links to hare coursing on the fens. Illegal as well as possibly legal fishing. And drinking parties on the benches in the summer.

Alongside the increasingly crowded human use, are concerns for environment and wildlife – swans, herons, kingfishers, woodpeckers, voles, snakes and recently occasional otters. Overpowering the sound of birdsong is the traffic over the A14 road bridge, muffled on damp and misty days.

This first part of the assignment is a multi-themed body of prints and photographs on the beauty, contrasts and social contradictions of aiming primarily to further develop and extend my printmaking skills in photo-lithography, photo-screen and drypoint/carborundum that I had started to explore in Printmaking 2.

  • starting with a series of around 3 concertina sketchbooks where I sketch/collage walks along contrasting sections of the river in different media and different seasons with my thoughts, questions and information I am able to get from others.

These sketchbooks, together with my photographs, will then be discussed with different local networks: Cambridge Camera Club, printmaking and artist colleagues and circulated on on-line social network sites like Cambridge Urban Sketchers to produce:

  • 2-3 photobooks building on Bench and the Bridge series
  • fine art photographs, prints and paintings that I can put into collective exhibitions of Camera Club and Open Studios
  • cards for the local tourist market

I develop 3 projects with different themes, approaches and print media:

  • 2.1.1 Fog lines: uses series of photographs of people and power-lines taken in mist and fog as the basis for a series of moody drypoint and carborundum prints.
  • 2.1.2 River Reflections: this project takes a more ‘picturesque’ approach to the river using photographs of the Railway Bridge over the river as the basis for a series of seasonal colour photo-screen prints and abstracts.
  • 2.1.3: Bridge : develops a more socio-political approach to Edgelands based on black and white photographs of the area around and under the A14 Road Bridge.