John Whitfield Abandoned Wrecks - Photography

John Whitfield Abandoned Wrecks

Over the last twenty years I have explored the UK coastline in search of abandoned ship wreaks to photograph.

I found my first wreck back in 1998. It was a car, parked and abandoned near Burgess Park, in Southwark, which I passed on the way to my studio. I returned that evening to photograph it. I thought it was interesting: the quiet road contrasted with this smashed-up car parked beneath a street light. There were other cars left on the streets of London: in cul-de-sacs, under bridges and on wasteland. At night, they had looked exotic, mysterious and frightening. Using the panoramic camera, they became urban landscapes.

My love affair with abandoned cars did not last long. The price of steel rocketed and the cars disappeared from the streets. I had to find another subject.

I had always been drawn to the Thames Estuary and, indeed, any estuary. The flat endless marshlands, big skies and emptiness pulled me in. On quiet days from the studio I would drive down to Kent or Essex and walk along the rough footpaths beside the empty river. One Sunday, walking with a local rambling group, we came across an abandoned schooner on the Kent side of the Thames Estuary. It was beautiful, lying without masts but with its hull intact in the dark mud. I returned the next day, during a snow storm, and photographed it. Thus began my search for the abandoned wrecks along our coastline.

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John Whitfield Abandoned Wrecks

Nunhead, London