I went for my first proper look around the refinery on Thursday, and took a couple of shots, nothing much as yet. I’m back all day tomorrow and Wednesday so will have much more to show then…
THE WOOLWICH FERRY
This free car and passenger ferry does five trips an hour across the River Thames. After Tower Bridge there are no bridges until you get to the Dartford Crossing some 20 miles away, so this crossing is always busy. The cars frequently wait up to an hour just to get on the boat. For passengers it’s great, you get straight on and it has a kind of holiday feel to it.
I’m starting a larger project on this area as a whole, I used to live in Woolwich Arsenal and was always really interested in the history of this part of the Thames and how it is changing.
This huge sugar refinery factory which looms on the edge of the River Thames at Silvertown, East London, just south of the City Airport, is a magnificent building, there always seems to be masses of steam pouring out of its two chimneys, and Tate & Lyle lorries rushing in and out. I used to live on the other side of the river to the factory, and would glaze at it everyday. I have always wanted to try to gain access to document its everyday working life. So after just one email and a call, I have just got back from meeting the Community Officer. I am being shown round fully next week and having a safety induction, then hopefully start shooting that day.
Here are a few images of the refinery and surrounding area I have taken. I felt really excited when I was down there and I think this will be the start of a much larger project of that part of London and the ways it is changing.
This is the disused railway just outside the factory.
I’ve always found images of demos pretty cliched and a bit boring, and to me that could be one of the reasons they are not published much in the media. So I’m trying to look at the smaller things going on, the little moments rather than the action shots, I really like this one I took the other day…
I shot this picture of the fascist group EDL who were congregating outside Tate Britain (how original). Shot on a really big f-stop (1.4 I think), I like the way it makes it look like a toy town.
and I just like the composition of this one…
As an ongoing project of my mums cancer treatment, I have been trying to document all her medical care. These are more images I took of her radiotherapy treatment, she has a secondary brain tumour caused by her lung cancer, and so was prescribed a week-long treatment of radiotherapy.
I went back after Homer’s (my tutor’s) advice, and stood back to get more of the room and details in, to try to show more of the environment, and I think some of these work better, especially in colour. I find this a very hard project to do, it’s one I really want to do but when you see someone in your family in distress or pain the last thing you think is ‘oh what f-stop shall I use? or ‘Should I just move round a little to get more of the nurses head in’, your first response is shame, shame that I can pick up my camera and photograph my mum who is lying there being fitted with an acrylic mask stuck to her face and then having her head clamped to a table, shame that I should even want to do this project. I am her daughter first and a photographer much later than that, but I think this is an important project to pursue, one she and other family members can look back on. I just need to find a way to do it and not feel like I’m exploiting her pain.
MASK FITTING/ They need to make a mask that moulds around her face, which is then clamped to the bed. This is so she does not move her head at all, so the radiotherapy is directed to the right part of her brain and no where else.
The lasers are used to line the patient up exactly with the machines rays. They do many x-rays to make sure her head is in exactly the right place.
After many x-rays and slight changes to the machine position, once they are happy the brain is in the right place, the mask fitting is finished.
To my mums joy they remove the mask.
THE FINISHED MASK/ That was just the fitting for the mask, treatment hadn’t been given then. She found the mask fitting more horrific than the actual radiotherapy treatment, which was a lot quicker.
TREATMENT/ Five doses, given on five consecutive day, each treatment only lasting a few minutes.
Waiting for the next course of radiotherapy.
LASERS/ When they have lined all the lasers up, it’s time for the treatment.
Everyone must leave the room and go into the control room next door. They watch her in the treatment room through the two tv screens on the wall, and simple set the dose amount and time on the control pad and turn a key to release the radiation, then 30 seconds later they rush back in to the room and un-clamp her from the table.
LAST DAY/ Going home.
7.30am every Saturday morning around thirty people from 18 to 80 years old meet on the banks of the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park, London, each with the purpose of stripping off their clothes to jump in for a morning swim. This tradition dates back to 1864, and appears to form a life-long addiction. Members of the club swim every day of the year, but Saturday is the morning for official races. There is a certain undeniable enchantment to watching the swimmers dive into the murky browns that threaten hepatitis, typhoid and botulism. Although one would not associate the matured gentility of the average Serpentine swimmer with extreme sports, weekend hobbies rarely require the spirit necessary to dive so cheerily into freezing cold water whatever the weather. It is oddly inviting and after initial hesitation I filled out my application form for my first swim. I start next week.
7.45 am, the first race of the day.
The 50 yard dash to the buoy.
The finishing line.
The ‘Serpentine Shade’.
The post race warm-up.