site B/Phoenix (in the distance)

There used to be a steep earth embankment along one side of site B (a large former castings factory) behind a wire mesh security fence, both gone now. The embankment had a huge number and variety of beautiful mature trees and various kinds of bushes. I used to take cover amongst them at the top and take several minutes from that vantage point to carefully study the site below. It wasn't easy to see if there were workers around and I never fancied bumping into anyone. (Once I only noticed them afterwards, in a photograph, in the distance.)  If the coast seemed clear I'd nervously scramble down the other side and wander around to take pictures for three or four hours each time (it's a big site), initially of the demolition and clearance and then the subsequent housing estate construction. The building company named the site, 'Phoenix'.


I don't go to site B/Phoenix much anymore but I was passing nearby today and took a few photos from outside. I've a poor memory but could sharply recall what things had looked like before, and some of the feelings when taking pictures here. The embankment, which had once seemed such a permanent feature of that landscape had been cleared, levelled, left for a year or so, cleared again, and now is a strip of houses, one or two of which are newly occupied, with curtains and decorations in the windows.

My interest specifically in the embankment came late on in the years repeatedly going to photograph at B. Two or three afternoons were spent in a spot which had been partly cut-through as if to make an access road which was never completed. It had become overgrown again, with weeds as tall as me. I took lots of sweep pans and today could recollect the buzz I had of being really caught up in making them. As the camera rotates it struggles with close objects, and isn't able to stitch them correctly, so there'd be odd disconnected floating fragments in the frame.

Aside from that memory, the other vivid shoots there were the weekends spent amongst debris and water at the bottom of excavations several metres deep. Novelist Haruki Murakami had characters experience solitariness at the bottom of deep holes (dry wells) in two of his books. My experience was awareness that most people were out shopping or having an americano in Costa, and there I was, looking up at the intense blue sky from a shadow-filled crater with the odour of methane seeping from the soil.


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