Casa Dura sits high up in the hills behind Benidoleig here in Spain. The views of mountains and sea all around are majestic. The vegetation is lush, colourful and varied. The house itself is abandoned for human habitation but is a story of conquest as nature reestablishes residence within and around.
Over the next three months I plan to create a photographic body of work capturing both the abandonment by human beings and the conquest by nature. I plan to work with local people who can remember the story of this house. Why is it abandoned now? What happened here? What is going to happen to it next?
A local photographer Chris Parker introduced me to this place a couple of months ago. While I was photographing an abandoned village in Cyprus called Souskiou a couple of weeks ago Casa Dura came to mind. In Souskiou I was struck by how a village of nearly 400 people now has no residents since the troubles in 1974. I thought of all the lives lived in these now derelict buildings and there noticed how fiercely nature was reestablishing its rights.
Casa Dura was a substantial property and now only a partial skeleton of its former glory remains. I only got the above photograph today from Chris Parker. Something I want to do is rephotograph this composition from exactly the same spot this photograph was taken to show a then and now and what has changed.
I want to talk to any local people who have a story to tell about Casa Dura. I also want to say something about abandonment and reclamation in this body of work. The plan is to produce an exhibition and possibly a photobook. As the story unfolds there is likely to be a photoessay or article I will wish to write.
This project will form the project part of my MA in Photography at Falmouth University for the current module Strategies and Surfaces.
I am a Photographer. As well as taking many photographs I am currently studying for an MA in Photography at Falmouth University. I will direct my attention through the lens of my camera for the next couple of years and see what shows up. I see a photograph as a little bit of magic capturing a moment in time. If successful it surprises and engages your emotions. It tells a story about the wonders of being alive or tells us what we need to change to make it a better world to live in. That is enough for me to get going and then like walking a 1000 miles, which I did across the UK in 2010, or walking 200 miles across Cyprus, which I did in November last year, it is one step at a time.
I was a writer. The title of my unpublished book was ‘You Would Have Done The Same.' It is about a successful guy in love with his wife who lets her die when he discovers her in the process of committing suicide. The title gives a clue as to what I think you would have done. The book is 200 pages long. I found it cathartic to write it but after two years of work and reviewing with agents decided it probably needed another 2000 hours to get the whole book up to the standard of some of the pages. Writing is great but it is a lot of sitting down so I decided to get out and walk, play tennis, play bridge, go birding, watch football at Nottingham Forest, Arsenal and Valencia and anywhere else if I can, meditate, cook and eat. I was a writer who has so far failed to become an author.
I was a young man who loved Mathematics and thoroughly enjoyed getting a BSc at Liverpool University. While there I went often to Anfield and the Philharmonic Hall. I was all set on doing a PhD until I went for interview practice at BP and got seduced by the excitement of an International business career. BP was a great adventure building trading teams and businesses in London, Antwerp, Cleveland Ohio and Singapore. Fabulous people and some great challenges and also very hard work, constant jet lag and lots of fun along the way. I married Karen, my stunning wife, and had the most amazing time with her and our three boys Alex, Tom and Dan. She has multiple sclerosis and we have taken on many challenges together but somehow keep creating a new normal against the horrors thrown our way. She is the love of my life.
After BP I decided to coach senior executives and quickly realized I had a lot to learn
about what makes people tick. I had a fantastic 18 months on the International Programme of the Cleveland Gestalt Institute. A great faculty and a
wonderful group of people on the programme. We studied and worked in Dingle, Singapore, Holland, Cape Town and
Lisbon. This also got me interested in the way we think and make decisions so I studied for an MSc in Psychology atUniversity College London in 2010. The
Masters was in Cognitive and Decision Sciences and I found it fascinating what
we do know but also how much we don’t know about how we think and make
I loved coaching and making a difference. I got a number of people to hear themselves, remove some of their own chains and free up the way they thought about the world. I remain fascinated by how people react to and engage with the world. My Masters thesis was why do two people given the same information make different decisions? Put simply, it is because each of us are unique in the way we are constructed.
Since returning from Singapore I found English winters tough so moved to Spain where I now live. The people are lovely, the scenery amazing, food delicious and the sun shines all the time. Almost.
All of these experiences will feed in to my time now as a Photographer. Three motivations I am lucky to have are enthusiasm, curiosity and a continuous interest in learning. All the time I look forward to meeting old friends and making new friends and experiencing this wonderful life together.