Capstone Project

I have a strong interest in the world around me, particularly in photographing how humans change their environment and, in equal measure, how nature changes and recovers from these human interventions. For this project I decided to photograph how nature, given enough time, can recover from the ravages of heavy industry. When I first thought of this general theme I planned on heading to the disused steelworks of Sheffield or docks of Liverpool, site of heavy industry conducted over the last couple of centuries with little concern for the environmental impact for most of that time. Then I realised I had an equally interesting, but far longer story to tell within walking distance of my home.

My photos come from an area on the edge of the south-east corner of the Peak District National Park in England, some taken just inside the park, some just outside. While the park is protected for its natural beauty the landscape is the result of a complex interaction between nature and heavy, destructive industry. This is an area that for most of the last 2000 years has earned it’s living from mineral extraction in the form of lead mining and limestone and gritstone quarrying and is one of the birthplaces of the industrial revolution, recognised as world heritage site (http://www.derwentvalleymills.org/). My project aims to document the power of nature to recover from the ravages of 2 millennia mineral extraction industry.

My photographs take you on a journey back through time. First a still operational quarry currently extracting thousands of tonnes of stone a year back to limestone quarries last worked around the end of the 20th century. Then to gritstone quarries from the 18th and 19th centuries and finally to what looks to be an ordinary English hay meadow. However this last scene is not all it seems, the flat land in the foreground is the top of the spoil from a lead mine shaft, described as ancient on the 17th century maps, hidden by the darker patch of nettles in pretty much the exact centre of the frame. As you view my photographs I hope they show you that whatever we do to this planet today nature can bounce back if we stop trying to destroy it!

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~ by davkt on December 23, 2016.

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