Local resident and photographer John Callaway gives us a glimpse into Portsmouth’s hidden places with his stunning photography. This week John returns to Farlington Marshes and muses not on the natural environment, but on the concrete that surrounds it.
Farlington Marshes is pretty much on my doorstep, being just over a mile away from home. Over the years, I’ve written about and photographed various aspects of the marshes, ranging from coastal squeeze through to ruminations about the sequencing of images and several other detours on the way. So, why not talk about concrete?
Walking south on the Eastern Road towards Farlington Services is probably never going to compete with some of the other walks in and around Portsmouth, but it is (mostly) in a straight line. It’s not strictly ‘edgeland’ territory, but it does provide a transition away from residential streets, via supermarkets, light industrial units, petrol stations, a hotel, and a factory, to a place of relative wilderness. And of course, it takes you under the A27 flyover, which from a certain perspective, purged of colour, you could interpret as a tunnel taking us towards an increasingly dystopian future. Or maybe it’s just a concrete bridge…
Cross underneath the A27 and you are almost immediately at the entrance to the marshes. Langstone Harbour has a tidal range, and the marshes themselves have concrete sea defences pretty much all of the way round. Not many people around, so there’s an opportunity to stand on the concrete jetty, staring out towards the horizon, imagining what the world might look like if we don’t address the issues of climate change.
Or we could wonder whether the slowly crumbling concrete and brick bunker is emblematic of the present mechanisms of government here, and across the other side of the Atlantic…
This article was originally published on John Callaway’s website, Ideas & images from Portsmouth and beyond. You can read more of John’s writing on his website and also see his live music photography.
Images by John Callaway.