If you’ll pardon the pun, taking on a series of workshops was uncharted territory for me, so I was intrigued to see how people of different ages and backgrounds would view the town we live in.
The first thing I wanted to know was how many people from within the group were actually born in Scarborough and how many had moved here from another place. I was astonished to discover only three at that first workshop had been born in the town; the rest had all come here either as children with their families or had moved here out of a love for the place. I think people are drawn to the sea, and to the big open easterly skies; there is something special about living somewhere bounded by water on one of its borders. There is a real elemental sense of place when you live on the coast.
My aim was to get a series of visual clues from each of the people attending that would give me a mental map of the places that were special to them in the town; or an idea of a journey regularly taken by them, whether a walk to school or work, or to a favourite place.
We gave everyone a cheap, disposable camera, fixed lens, no zoom, quite basic really. The aim was not to get people to produce technically brilliant pictures, but to record a journey, or a week in their lives, maybe taking in any special places, people or events we had talked about the previous week. The results were better than expected for me: I discovered I could plan a route across the town from south to north, from the Shuttleworth Gardens, across South Cliff, over the Valley Bridge and out towards the North Bay and Peasholm via the Castle Headland. There were also some surprises in there: Robert’s fondness for graffiti art, Charles’s view of the world from his wheelchair’s level, and Devon’s gritty bit of photojournalism showing a derelict building with a bike in front, its reflector winking back red light from the camera flash.
My job now is to work with these themes and ideas and interpret the different locations each individual has highlighted: I can’t wait to get started!