The magnificent Madeira Terrace of Brighton

The magnificent Madeira Terrace of Brighton

I have a treat for you today, taking you from one iconic Brighton building last time to another one this week. This is a view of the upper level and lift tower of Madeira Terrace, the spectacular 865m-long Victorian covered walkway that lines the seafront at Madeira Drive in Brighton.

Built at the end of the 19th century, according to Historic England this Grade II* structure is “very rare being the only known, land-based, monumentally-scaled, iron promenade in England, and possibly worldwide; although converted to electric power, the three-stage lift is an early and rare example of a hydraulic, water-powered lift in a seaside location”. To top it all, this is also the location of the oldest and longest green wall in the UK. The cliff face was planted with Japanese Spindle trees 20 years before the terrace was built. The trees continue to thrive 150 years later.

In 2012 Madeira Terrace was closed to the public because it had become unsafe. Brighton and Hove Council have now secured funding for an ambitious renovation project, working in partnership with the local community, to “restore the arches and create a new sustainable leisure, social and business space sensitive to the terraces original design”. Please have a look at the Council’s plans here. They are very exciting.

I have been drafted in to document the restoration, starting with the site as it stands now. It was with a keen pleasure that I headed behind the fencing to the deserted terraces, with the sweeping sea views all to myself. In these closed-off areas, it was interesting to notice how the balance between human structure and nature was leaning towards greenery and wildlife. You can find a selection of photos from my first shoot here.

What happens when Ashcombe Windmill is cyanotype-d?

What happens when Ashcombe Windmill is cyanotype-d?

Welcome to Photo of the Week, here to brighten up your inbox. I hope you are all staying well during these difficult times.My cyanotype journey continues. After landscapesseascapes and portraits, I turned my attention to my love of architecture to see how this could translate into my new medium.

After much experimentation, once again I had some interesting discoveries. Many photos that I thought would work beautifully, just would not cooperate. But then sometimes I would get unexpected results that could turn the original digital photograph into something else entirely.

This is Ashcombe Windmill, perched on the Downs above Lewes. The tonal qualities bestowed on the photograph by the cyanotype and hand-printing processes have dropped it into another time and place.

I began to realise that one of the beauties (and frustrations) of cyanotype is the unexpected. There are so many variables to the process that I can never be fully in control of the end product. Sometimes that end product can feel like a gift.

As I mentioned last week, I am self-publishing a book of my cyanotype Bonfire portraits. It will be available for sale during my Artwave exhibit and also by mail order. More information is available here.

A large selection of this new work will be shown as part of the Lewes District Artwave Festival in a joint exhibit with artist Kelly Hall. You can find us at St Anne’s House, 111 High St, Lewes, BN7 1XY, opposite Shelley’s Hotel. We will be open the first three weekends in September, 11am-5pm. Please do come by and say hello!

You can find a selection of my cyanotypes here and learn how I create them here.

It’s a whole new ballgame

It’s a whole new ballgame

Lockdown has been many things for many people. Although obviously a very upsetting time, for me it also proved to be productive and I am excited to share with you what I have been working on. Back in January, my daughter came home from college with some cyanotypes she had made and I was immediately taken with the potential of the technique. Thus began months of experimentation.

Cyanotype is a traditional darkroom method dating back to the 1840s. I use acetate to create a negative from a digital file and use this to make a contact print onto paper that I have painted with cyanotype solution.

It is a deceptively simple process. It is fickle and inconsistent and can drive me crazy, but when it works, it is joyous. There is variation in each print so, unlike a digital photograph, every image is unique. 

Because I was unable to leave the house I had many hours to play with the process, seeing what types of images worked best and how far I could push the technique. I began with photos I took during the winter storms that pounded our coastline, perhaps because I was missing the sea so much during lockdown. 

You can find a selection of my cyanotypes here. This new work will be exhibited in September as part of the Lewes District Artwave Festival. A book of my Bonfire cyanotypes is available as well, more information on that here.

Fun in the sun

Fun in the sun

We have just passed the solstice so, as much as I regret to say it, summer is officially over.

As the rains fall, the winds lash and the nights draw in, here is a little treat for you: one last blast of fun in the sun, taken at the Eastbourne Beach Life Festival (yes, it was back in July).

As part of the event, a contingent of vintage VW bus owners congregated along the seafront, basking in the sun and the cuteness of their vehicles, some of them even with matching dogs.

My portraits focus on showing people within the environments that represent them best. They can be found here and my working portraits can be found here.

Tide waits for no man

Tide waits for no man

I am always pleased to start a new project and this one is particularly exciting. This is Free Wharf in Shoreham harbour, a development of 540 mixed-tenure new homes to be built over the next four years. This will be the most extensive and longest-running project that I have worked on by far. The site is being developed by the Southern Housing Group, established in 1901 and one of the largest housing associations in the south east of England.

Currently one of the main focuses at Free Wharf is to strengthen and replace the sea wall along the entire site. To get a sense of the scale of the task, this photo shows just one portion of the wall, where a crane supports a cage holding one man who must always work around the rise and fall of the tides.

More of my photos of Free Wharf are here, information about the development can be found here and my architectural documentary projects are here.

The Glyndebourne prop maker

The Glyndebourne prop maker

A few weeks ago I told you about a new series of portraits I have been working on for the Lewes District Council, highlighting the diverse people who live and work in the district. An exhibit of this project will be on display during the Lewes Artwave Festival (details below).

This portrait of Rose Beale is my latest in the series. As well as being a talented sculptor, Rose has been working as a prop maker at the world-famous Glyndebourne Opera House for over 30 years. She wanted to be photographed with one of her favourite props, a mask from a recent production of The Barber of Seville.

I was lucky with the soft light falling across Rose’s face, the simple palette of nearly only beiges and blues, and that beautiful bull with his curved black horns. More of my portraits can be found here, and working portraits here.

My exhibit can be found at Artwave venue 97, 7 Fisher Street, Lewes, BN7 2DG. The gallery will be open Saturdays 10-4 and Sundays 10-2, 18 August to 1 September.

Please get in touch if you have an event, a celebration or a portrait you would like to have photographed or a building project documented.

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