Boatyard Climates – a series found in a Cornish boatyard

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Boatyard Climates series framed

Looking at intimate details in boatyards I often see “found landscapes” where the colours and marks resemble a seascape, landscape or river view. I set myself a challenge, to look for the bigger picture rather than at a detailed scene and to tie the results in with climate change as it’s such an important issue.

I wanted to create a series and so started by thinking of the colours of different climatic regions and finding abstract details to match. That was quite easy but the images weren’t very satisfying, were a bit contrived. I felt the texture of the surface was going to be key to give the images any depth and interest. Over a number of months I collected the images I was looking for.

The first image I found was “Rainforest”, a rich medley of greens on a piece of battered and beaten wood, the top of a prop used to support a boat whilst it’s out of the water. The woodgrain was perfect to evoke a feeling of the forest.

Next, repair work was being done on the hull of a large boat and I homed-in on a swipe of bright, pale blue paint across some smooth white filler. The feeling of slippery ice and cold seas was definitely there, so now I had the start of “Polar”.

Lastly I spotted an old red and orange buoy where the surface was all worn and weathered like cracked, dry earth. It became my “Desert”.

So now I had my three images I decided to cut each into 100 pieces and reassemble them in a random pattern to portray the mosaic of habitats you find in the natural world. This made the images much more complex and far more interesting to me.

All that was needed now was something to suggest the impact that is happening in these environments due to climate change. I experimented with a number of different techniques. In the end the one I used involved selecting one square in each row, each in a different column, and inverting the colours. Introducing these complementary colours impacted the final image, increasing contrast and adding some tension.

So the final series is made up of three images, each representing a different climatic region through its colour palette and texture. The threat of climate change is shown through subtle colour inversions…the rainforests are suffering deforestation and forest fires (greens turn to red)…polar areas have rising temperatures, warming faster than anywhere else on the planet, (blues turn to orange)…deserts are experiencing heavier rainfall (oranges turn to blue).

The series is called “Boatyard Climates (Rainforest, Polar, Desert)”. It was one of my two works selected by the Royal West of England Academy (RWA) in December 2022 for the RWA Photo Open Exhibition held from January to May 2023. The other selected work is called “Ghost Gear”.

Each image in the series was exhibited as a Giclée print on Hahnemühle Fine Art Baryta paper and framed in black with a white passe-partout mat. They were laid out vertically as shown above. The individual images are included in the gallery below.