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Village Art & Literature

The Concrete Waterfall

Posted on September 16 2011 at 1:53:12 0 comments

One of George's motorway images

Many people living in this beautiful part of the country have also learned to live with the M42. You may not see it, but its presence thrums away, felt strongly or less so depending on the direction of the breeze.

Some villagers, in a remarkable leap of imagination, say they think of it as sounding like the sea; and how pleasant that must be!

George Benson

Alvechurch photographer George Benson (right) has come to think of it as a “concrete waterfall” after a friend told him to imagine the sound of the motorway was made by falling water.

George has grown very close to the motorway since he moved to the village four years ago and started to explore the area using a custom Ordnance Survey map with his house at the centre.

“I proceeded to explore all the possible footpaths leading out,” he explains. “When I first started following routes over and under the motorway a strange relationship started. I was hooked and wanted to only explore the motorway and how you could walk near it, under it, over it, see it, not see it but hear it.”

This led him to start a photographic project a year ago following the motorway all the way from Weatheroak, through Alvechurch and along its route past Withybed Green, Blackwell, Lickey End, Catshill and down to Bromsgrove, photographing the landscape and countryside alongside it.

“This isn’t a project about how there used to be green fields here and now there’s a great, ugly big motorway there,” says George. “Much of the relationship of living near a motorway is about the sound – you can hear the ebbs and flows of the traffic but you rarely see anything as you explore your surroundings.

“The photographs aim to visualise this relationship through chance encounters with the parts of the motorway that are visible, glimpses of movement through the trees.”

This obsession with the motorway has caused a few problems for George over the years. “I ended up following paths through shoulder high brambles, paths that led nowhere but fields full of biting horseflies. Trapped many times, I had to trespass through woods, bogs and over railway lines.

“There was also one time I disturbed a hidden cow, which proceeded to charge straight at me. Luckily I managed to push it away with my tripod at the last minute otherwise this may not have been a happy ending.”

But, happily, it does and now George’s work is about to go on show at the Artrix in Bromsgrove (you can see some of the images on these pages).

“After four years exploring and one year producing the work into one series, it’s fantastic to be able to share it with the local community,” he told The Village.

This isn’t George’s first exhibition of his projects, which he works on in his free time in between running graphic design business Sterographic.

He was a winner of the prestigious Flash Forward Emerging Photographers Award in Toronto, Canada, last summer and exhibited at Derby’s International Format festival in the spring.  His work was also published in contemporary photography magazine Hotshoe International this summer.

* Concrete Waterfall opens at the Artrix on October 5 and runs until November 6.
For details, see http://www.artrix.co.uk or http://gwbenson.co.uk/concretewaterfall


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