Aldeburgh Diaries

The name “Aldeburgh” derives from the Old English ald (old) and burh (fortification), although this structure, along with much of the Tudor town, has now been lost to the sea. In the 16th century, Aldeburgh was a leading port and had a flourishing shipbuilding industry. Aldeburgh’s importance as a port declined as the River Alde silted up and larger ships could no longer berth. It survived mainly on fishing until the 19th century, when it also became a seaside resort. As a tourist town it has a thriving artistic as well as festival tradition on which some of my work draws.

Aldeburgh is ‘on the edge’ in a number of ways:

  • geographically it is extremely vulnerable to encroachment of the sea. Half the land originally occupied by Aldeburgh in the middle ages has now disappeared through both gradual erosion and storm disasters. The sea is currently held at bay with barriers and groynes, but the area is threatened in the longer term by global warming.
  • to the North the skyline is dominated by Sizewell nuclear power station – with periodic leaks though none so far serious. The current strategic government focus on nuclear energy and likely development of the new nuclear power station at Sizewell C will lead to profound ecological and economic changes.

Inspiration and Background work:
Previous projects Reportage Sketchbooks

Life sketching and documentary photography and video in Aldeburgh since 2016 that informed the sorts of issues relevant to the place, and also the types of topics likely to be interesting to the local tourist market.

new sketchbook and creative writing work from 2021-2022. Aldeburgh is a very good place for sketching people. A key regular element in my practice going forward will be sketching of people in locations along the derives together with notes on conversations as the basis for developing narratives. Some very preliminary rapid sketches together with supporting photos and video clips are being developed into more considered drawings in different media for an illustrated book of poetry and short stories called ‘Entanglements’ dealing more directly with issues around fishing, sustainable tourism and environmental conservation.