Humans on the Marshes - Thames Estuary, England 2011-2018

Artist Blog by Oliver Martin

Historically the Thames is how people from Europe and the rest of the world came to London; it has been one of the most important trading points on the globe. It’s an area of docks, farmland and Industry that attracts people from all over Europe.

The first picture I made for this project is on the Hoo peninsular; it’s close to London but felt so remote; the thing that struck me was nature, its presence, the smells from the salt marsh, wind from the sea, the sun, the birds, it felt wild, exposed, open.

I found it through google earth; I saw all these odd uniform structures close to the Estuary and wanted to investigate – they turned out to be old storage buildings used for ammunition during the Second World War. I then came across this scene with the derelict farmhouse. What I love about this place is the history; I can imagine the people that used to live here; what lives did they live? What was life like? To the right of this scene, I could also see container ships heading out to Europe and beyond and imagine all the trade and wars over the centuries.

This work examines people's relationship with their environment, their sense of place and how we as humans have shaped the landscape and may impact its future.

The work was made using a 5x4 film camera.

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