John Davies, France England
These photographs are a selection from a variety of projects in both France and England made between 1980-2009. In these images I attempt to create a narrative to tell visual stories about social and political process, change and transformation.
The earliest photographs are from a series of explorations into isolated landscapes in the British Isles where I wanted to capture a sense of the power of the forces of nature.
By 1981 I had decided to focus on the reality of the urban environment, where symbols of power in the landscape represent ownership of property and material wealth. In northern England I documented key industries and social landscapes left over from the Industrial Revolution to reveal the impact of industry in shaping the contemporary urban landscape. This work reflects these layers of historical, industrial and social change.
In England I document the evident social consequences of an economy that is now divorced from geography. By comparison my French work largely focuses on less populated terrain. My first photographs of France concentrate on rural communities that have a direct connection with the land and a type of village that has now disappeared from the English landscape—only to re-appear vividly in the English imagination! But it is clear these traditional farming populations in France are also steadily decreasing. My other French projects are more expansive with wider and less intimate views: from the northern rural landscapes of Nord-Pas-de-Calais and the construction of the A26 autoroute to the natural river courses along sections of the Seine, Loire and Durance and to the south of France where the industrial zone of Fos-sur-Mer is built on the river delta land of the Camargue.
I dedicate this exhibition to the photographer Gabriele Basilico (12 August 1944-13 February 2013) who was a friend and companion in documenting the urban landscape.
Exhibition venue: Atelier des Forges, Parc des Ateliers, Rencontres d’Arles 2013.