Looking down at El Chalten, Argentina, 2008.
Sometimes the mere thought of pulling a camera up to your eye, starts the neural pathways a quivering; and this was what I thought three years ago, when standing above the small village of El Chalten, in the Santa Cruz province of Argentina.
Often when thinking about photography and its ability to define a truth (a truth that in retrospect is subjective), we can often categorically say that when thinking about an image from our past we remember the details – but do we? Or are our minds tricking us into believing what we see before us as truth? So thinking back into my past, to a point where my interest in the notion of at the ends of the earth comes from, I can start to unravel my thinking behind it.
But what about the thought, that has lingered in my subconscious since then? And has continued to arise in my photographs without me realising it. I guess, simplistically it can be stripped down to a question – why do people choose to build and settle in places that are so far off the beaten track, that they become almost a refuge away from the hustle and bustle of everyday lives. From my position above El Chalten, looking down as the light was fading, it was evident that here, two thousand miles from home, I could clear my head and try to understand the reason for this place. The photograph then, is just a visual record of what is before me, rather than an explanation – the thoughts and memories are needed to complete the picture.
Looking at the down at the settlement in Argentina, set in motion a train of thought. It made me think about settlements. On return to England, I metaphorically turned the camera away from El Chalten and started thinking about peripheral settlements in England. I started searching for places with a equivalent degree of remoteness – places on the edge, the edge of our island – the coast.