Since submitting A3, I’ve been out on a couple of long photowalks as I bring collecting to a close. Blackburn last week – a poor former textile town that I read this week is under risk of a local Covid 19 lockdown – and Leeds and its suburbs yesterday. It was my second trip to Leeds, needed as the project’s direction has taken shape since my first trip about a year ago. The contrast in affluence between Blackburn and Leeds was palpable. For my final trip, I’m planning to visit Wigan (of Orwell’s Road to Wigan Pier, which refers to the canal wharf) and Liverpool, at the far end of the canal from my location.
All the walking and seeing has also been good for thinking. I thought yesterday that I’m looking at ‘worlds within a world’; people trying to impose their own identities on a place whatever level of resources they have at their disposal. ‘Identity and Place’ to recycle that course title. The few people that I talk to while walking – most cycle by at speed or run past, sweating and breathing heavily (alarming in Covid world) – often talk about ‘the nature’, meaning the wild life and plants. I’m not sure that many give a thought to or even notice the ‘human nature’ on display – as I commented in my dissertation, it is not easy to be aware of a culture in which one is immersed.
I talked about the canal as a ‘contested space’ in my dissertation; a phrase that verges on an academic cliché and art-speak awash with ‘spaces’. It has an abstract feel to it. What I am really dealing with is humanity shaping places and the contest between people in asserting their identities – space is just the stage on which this very human contest is played out on.
The continuing BoW is proving fruitful thinking ground for finalising my dissertation. I think in hindsight, I should have paused at A4 of CS and moved BoW closer to completion before working on A5. The courses are meant to be completed in parallel, but things conspired against that. On the plus side, I’ve still plenty of time to tidy up A5.