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Human, mother, wife, home educator, learner, photographer, writer, reader, mind reader, critic, defender, champion.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Goodbye 2000s #3

Roughly one and a half per cent of all the photos I've ever published are of reflections. So, as I'm reflecting on the last decade, here are four of them.

Rainy Reflections Taken in June 2007, this is one of my most popular photos, having been viewed over 500 times. It's attracted 51 comments and 37 faves.  The following comment is taken from my old blog.

The day I took it was the day that I really got hooked on photography again. I was trying to explain to a friend how I felt when I took this photo. For some reason (perhaps it was the cider) I was unable to put this into words. But essentially, it is this; it was knowing that I alone had spotted these reflections in the pavement - amid the rushing crowd, I alone had stopped to stare in wonderment. It made me feel special - like I understood the world. It was showing us all something beautiful, but nobody had noticed. Just me. I couldn't find those words at the time, so I told my friend it was like catching a fairy.

Winter Walk Taken in January 2008 on the lovely little Kodak that my son now uses, this one has only been viewed 74 times, but it's been faved 7 times, not a bad hit rate. And it did manage a respectable 9 comments. It was a particularly grey day. Most of the photos I took this day were immediately converted to black and white because that's how I saw them when I took them. I was seeing in black and white all that day, so much so that when confronted with all this glorious purple, my poor eyes popped out having almost forgotten what colour was. This is the shot that prompted the comment that I always make Chatham seem so interesting, and so it is, if you squint.

Self Portrait with Stripy Legs This one has only been viewed a pathetic 35 times. I can't even really explain why I like it so much. I wanted the reflected man to be in the middle of the left hand door panel, so I waited for him. Then the bugger started to run and I almost didn't catch him at all. Now I'm not saying he should have let the car hit him, but without the reflected running man this is just a daft self portrait with banana-striped legs. Still, I guess that would've been enough to keep me amused.

Shop Girl (Retail. Detail) This is another one taken in June 2007. It was originally posted in colour and attracted 70 views and just one comment. I decided to post it in ever so slightly cross processed black and white a year and a half later to see what response it would get. I figured that since there was so much going on, so much to look at, a black and white conversion would allow the eye to concentrate on form and contrast. The newer version has been viewed just one more time than the colour version, although it's had half as much time to gather views. It has ten comments and five faves. Does this prove anything? Do people prefer black and white imagery? Do photographers prefer black and white imagery? Or is it just the photographers I know that prefer black and white imagery? It puts me in mind of that observation that nothing can be proven, something about one half of one sheep in Scotland being black, a philosophy joke. So what do we see? Modern life, mobiles phones, the boredom of retail, the stride of the woman on the left which implies she is wearing the bag in the shop window, consumerism, sale, sale, sale.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

The cost of destroying heritage.

At a meeting of Medway Council last year, Councillor Hubbard asked the Leader, Councillor Rodney Chambers, the following question:
"In the Assistant Director's (Housing and Corporate Services) letter of 5 May, she details the financial reasoning why the Council is committed to demolishing the Aveling and Porter building on the former Civic Centre site. There is little information given for the reasoning behind the figures: for example, ' to spend £70,000 to secure and underpin the old building and £65,000 to replace service supplies'. For the public record can the Leader set out in detail the reasons behind costings, and how they were formulated, which have been used to justify his Cabinet's decision to demolish the said building?"

The Leader, Councillor Rodney Chambers explained that in the Assistant Director’s letter she outlined what the expected costs to the Council would be if the Aveling and Porter office building were retained. This included £70,000 to secure and underpin the building, £65,000 to replace service supplies and ongoing annual costs of up to £139,000.
The £70,000 was to underpin the building at the point where it would be severed from the remainder of the Civic Centre building and would stabilise and waterproof the building.
Services to the Aveling and Porter office building, such as electricity and water, were supplied through the Civic Centre building and would be severed if the building were demolished. Utility providers had estimated the costs of replacing these services to be approximately £65,000.
On top of these one off costs would be up to £139,000 of annual costs which include £20,511 for rates, £10,800 for insurance, £5,000 for utilities, £7,000 for essential maintenance and up to £96,000 for security.
These figures do not include the backlog of repairs estimated to be £624,000 and other underpinning work which may have to be undertaken at a cost of £80,000. There would also be an additional cost if the building were later demolished of £200,000.
The Leader stated that it is far from clear that the Council could get a return on this investment once the site is made ready for re-development. The value of the site had been considered and it was believed that, if the building were retained, the reduction in the value of the site would be approximately £850,000.
He added that it was on the basis of these financial and safety implications and the view of English Heritage about the historic interest of the site, that the Council had decided it did not have the resources available to retain the building.

Well, that's all very nice, but what are we to make of the backlog of repairs? Does Medway Council routinely neglect the buildings it occupies? Can we expect the council to bulldoze Gun Wharf for a bit of prime riverside redevelopment money when that backlog of repair costs start building up again? Just something to think about.

Triptych of Destruction: Aveling & Porter Building

Medway painter Peter Reeds goes to the site of the Aveling & Porter building in Strood for a third time to record the unnecessary demolition of the building and bring something new and colourful to the situation. The time-lapse video can be viewed here.

Medway Council and Medway Renaissance Bombers have chosen to demolish this beautiful building to create a car park. This has cost the tax payer £800,000. The building could have been saved for the same amount.

Medway Renaissance Bombers' Robin Cooper is on record as saying that the building had "no purpose".

One Medway photographer is on record as saying that Mr Cooper has "no imagination".

If we tolerate this, then Sun Pier will be next.