I am more familiar with Liz's beautiful landscapes so I was intrigued to know how and why she chose this subject.
"After going on an RPS East Anglian field trip to an old cold war site near Thetford I was inspired by both its history and condition. I had been looking for a subject to focus on that could possibly become an ‘A’ Panel and thought this had great possibilities."
"Initially I focussed on close up images of the colour and texture of locks and doors which were covered in rust. After shooting many images I realised that these were too similar, I needed more depth and there was more of a story to tell. This took me from a potentially fine art panel to something much more conceptual.
This project was totally outside my comfort zone but I became immersed in this history."
How did you develop this idea?
"Extending the story led me to other cold war sites in our local area. As the project developed I became transported back to the period when these buildings contained many people working tirelessly to defend our country. However, now abandoned there was a sadness to the dereliction I was seeing before me. I wanted to show the buildings as they are today but wanted the viewers to imagine what it must have been like when fully operational. Having looked at successful panels on the RPS website it became clear that my panel belonged in the Contemporary and Conceptual genre."
How did you ensure you had the images you needed for your panel?
"I revisited the sites many times and finally had a bank of around fifty images of which I needed to select just fifteen. I was lucky that the images were within a similar colour palette except for the reds which I enhanced to show danger. Some images were flipped to create right or left images and when shooting I was conscious of centre images that I would need."
Finally, I asked Liz to give some tips to anyone thinking of working towards an ARPS.
"I used a tripod on all my shots which enabled me to optimise the ISO setting and depth of field.
I constantly reviewed my images to ensure the panel was in harmony with my statement of intent.
I also chose locations close to my home in Norfolk so that I could easily revisit them.
I took my panel to an Advisory Day and acted on the advice given.
I listened to other photographers opinions but at the end of the day it was my panel and my decision as to how I would present it."
I have been told before that your 'A' will find you and I think this is certainly the case here. Some great advice from Liz and plenty of inspiration.
Below is Liz's hanging plan to show how the images should be seen as a body of work and her Statement of Intent, which supports her panel perfectly.
Beyond the Bomb
"After visiting RAF Barnham, a once secret Cold War site near Thetford, I became enthused by the history and condition of this now dilapidated place. Here in the 1950’s, nuclear warheads were stored and maintained in a high security environment. The warheads were kept in safes, located in small cube-like concrete buildings with heavy doors, which have been corroded by years of weathering and abandoned to time.
Having been drawn into this world I gained access to other military bases of this era. These sites had a deadly purpose and were once vibrant and thriving communities. As technology developed and the world found more efficient ways of mass killing, they became redundant. I found myself asking, ‘Was this deterrent effective? Was it wasted time? Was it wasted effort? Was it all in vain?’
Upon entering these bases, I experienced an overwhelming sense of neglect. But if I close my eyes, I can visualise how things must have been, how life must have looked and sounded all those years ago - everybody working and living together, ready to react if ‘the button’ was pressed.
As I return to today’s reality, I am faced with detritus crunching under my feet, broken glass, peeling paint, graffiti adorning walls and signs of nature trying to reclaim it all.
In these images I have sought to capture the sense of these places as they are now before they disappear forever."