About the Book
Over the cold spring of 2013 I tried to capture something of the Fens around March and Wisbech for a travelling exhibition supported by Arts Council England and organised by the Babylon Gallery in Ely. I began with a set of maps, some hand drawn, to build up a mental picture, then surveyed areas by bike, with a small camera in my saddle bag. That way I could explore at a gentle pace and get to know the area. Later I came back with larger format equipment for more considered shots. The Fens around Ely, March and Wisbech are not picturesque. A roofless factory of vast fields and huge machines, this is one of the most fertile and productive areas in the UK, supplying salads, vegetables, cereals, flowers, bulbs and seed oils to shops, supermarkets and industry. A hundred years ago this was a patchwork of pasture, small holdings, mixed farms, orchards, green lanes and tracks. Now the pace and texture of life are very different, it is hard to escape the sound of traffic and the skyline is punctuated by wind farms and pylons. Although desolate and empty at first sight these East Anglian Fens have been fished, farmed and lived in for centuries. They have a long and complex history captured in evocative local place names – Bedlam, Euximoor Fen, The Dams and Botany Bay – and a more recent past mapped in patterns of farming and the buildings that go with it. Take time to get to know them, reset your aesthetic compass, and like those who live here, you will find this working landscape with its spectacular skies has a compelling character all its own.