Brett’s #1 (2023)

One of the things guarding against the prettification of my home town is the presence of Brett’s aggregate factory slap-bang in the harbour. With Charles Sheeler’s flattened abstractions in my sights – this week’s Kick-About prompt – and likewise his use of colour, I went out to photograph the factory buildings, with the idea of collaging them, so moving quickly beyond this first act of recording them.

Whitstable is celebrated for its skyscapes. and on this day, the clouds were so much lace and the light was pin-prick clean. Had my camera been old school, I’d have anyway plumped for a polarising filter by which to pull more drama and detail from the clouds; in the instance of these images, I polarised my images in post and licked my lips as the skies offered up all this tonal range and texture. The dystopian vibes of these photographs diverge at once from Sheeler’s calming expressions of modernity; my photographs remind me of sets from science-fiction movies; they’re all a bit Metropolis and I don’t mind saying I’m very happy about that. I walk past this factory all the time; it’s never felt this cinematic before.

Throwback Friday #135 Albert Street, December 3rd

Not throwing back too far this week, only as far as last weekend, which saw ‘the great switch-on’ of the Albert Street Christmas lights. This year, we inherited a much longer stretch of icicles, hence the festive wrap around of our little end-of-terrace house. There were homemade mince-pies, mulled wine and, this being Whitstable, a bitterly cold wind blowing in off the sea.

Whitstable Carnival, August (2022)

On Saturday, August 6th, it was Whitstable’s carnival, a fascinating expression of quirk and eccentricity, combining all the sea-centric elements you might expect from this long-standing tradition with more off-kilter entries.

This year, alongside the papier-mâché effigies and pirates, we were treated to an Elvis impersonator riding a mobility scooter upholstered with cuddly toys, some Oompa Loompas, a gaggle of flower-powered hippies, and a corgi-headed page-boy… The whole town came out to line the streets to wave the procession on in all its eclectic, ad-hoc glory and there was tangible sense of time travel, of witnessing something that has ‘always been’. That said, the carnival itself has been imperilled of late, seeing waning interest and investment in the event, but this year’s procession marked something of a renewal. I certainly enjoyed the strangeness and feral expressiveness, with nothing but admiration for those more performative souls who were out there making it happen for the rest of us.

I wanted to end by sharing this final image, which captures something of that sensation of time travel, for while this photograph was taken at last Saturday’s carnival, it could also have been taken a great many years earlier; the ghost of carnivals long-since passed is flickering here.

July Seascapes, Whitstable (2022)

These photographs were taken on the day after the UK saw those uncanny, record-breaking temperatures. We went to the beach to escape the strange temperature of our terraced house and swam gratefully in the shallowing sea. A few people wondered what I was doing with my camera pushed into a translucent bag and photographing into the sun, but I was out there, experimenting, gunning for heat haze and the shimmer. Turns out that double-wrapping the lens with gauze makes moonlight out of sunshine.

Grasses After Lamplough #2 (2022)

A second collection of photographs inspired by the watercolour paintings of Augustus Osbourne Lamplough, our most recent Kick-About prompt. In order to emulate the soft tonal range of Lamplough’s landscapes, I photographed this unkempt basin of umbellifers and grasses through gauze to flatten everything out and spread the sunlight liberally. In some of these images you can see the weave of the gauze producing a cross-hatching effect across the surface of the image.