Openings in the Islands

Fig 1. A Study in Openings Turks and Caicos 2013

Fig 1. A Study in Openings Turks and Caicos 2013

On my visit to the Turks and Caicos Islands I was capturing images for assignment 2. My objective was to develop an assignment portfolio of, no more than 15 images, that expressed a personal view of the islands. As discussed in an earlier post “The Carribean in My View”  I wanted to build towards a visual description that captured my sense of place and told my story of the islands.

My tutor’s feedback on assignment 1 arrived soon after returning from the trip so his advice and comments were not taken into the week-long shoot but they have strongly influenced the way I have looked at the raw, captured images. His comments have led me to start a process of understanding the banal and topographical movement of the 1970s.  My image selection and editing has undoubtably been influenced by beginning to study the photographs of William Eggleston and Stephen Shore. I am drawn to the idea of documenting our surroundings on the basis of photographing what is there and not entering a place with pre-formed ideas of what will be there to photograph or only capturing the grand or the beautiful. This approach opens the mind and eye to new possibilities and removes some shackles that might otherwise limit subject identification.

My key point here is that my original objective of finding a personal view, photographing what was there and the Eggleston/Shore ideas have come together whilst I was editing and selecting images. The perfect scenario would be to start the shoot again with these new influences in mind but in, many ways, I am more comfortable with the thought that my original idea has loosely  fitted into an framework that was established forty years ago by these and other great photographers. It is important to declare that I am not comparing my work with theirs in any qualitative sense, only that I feel that my thought processes fit within their broad ideas.

I approached the week by letting themes develop through my viewfinder, allowing me to see links between different locations. Following those links helped me develop some structure to my shooting and made my work more progressional even in such a short timeframe.

One theme that I took into the week was “openings”. Doors and windows humanise a wall. A wall is one dimensional, a barrier, a division, a unyielding surface. It is an analogy for preventing movement, preventing communication, a barrier. Opening a wall with a door adds a dimension; for there to be a door there has to be something beyond the wall, a place to go to or leave from. A window goes a step further because it means someone needs light or to look out or wants others to see in. Doors and windows transform a wall from a closed barrier into something that can be opened and by doing that they tell a story about the building.

In Turks and Caicos I became interested in the state of openings. Cared for architectural statements, with designed shape and colour, strictly functional openings to let in light and breeze, openings that were once cared for but are now neglected, some to the point of being holes without form or substance.

Photographically there is an abundance of horizontals and verticals but the verticals that give strength to some are part of the decline and decay of others. Occasionally a diagonal joins the mix as a shadow or a broken shutter hanging on a thread until the next strong wind comes through. Each window has a history, some have a future, some are only a trace of what once was and will soon be gone. None are grand or glorious, none are important or notable but they are there and tell part of the story.

Collectively, as seen in fig. 1 they document a tiny aspect of the island story. Individually, as shown in the gallery below they are a study of form and colour, of texture and line, of decay and weathering. The cracked wood, broken glass and flaking paint tell a much more personal story of one house, one place and one opening.

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