Nottingham Trent University, England.
The Gravs’ addresses themes of environmental concern and industrial heritage, the taming of wilderness and reclamation of nature. I observe the empty, banal qualities of the reserve, yet the absence of people is juxtaposed with evidence of human activity from both past and present; power lines, vandalism and fly-tipping sites allude to the dystopian presence of Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station on the surrounding landscape.
Influenced by the literary works of Robert Macfarlane’s Wild Places and true to The Old Ways, I walk the causeways, holloways and pathways of the reserve, sometimes straying outside its borders. Over the course of five months I visited frequently, seeing the transformation from winter to spring. The landscape was dramatically altered during the excavation of gravel pits from 1929 to 1967, being one of many sites of industry in the East Midlands. The site represents post-industrial land use in Britain, after the pits closure they were filled with water and the reserve was formed, masking the scars left behind by industry.
“Since to follow a trail is to remember how it goes, making one’s way in the present is itself a recollection of the past . . . onward movement is itself a return.”
(Macfarlane, 2012, Quoting Ingold and Vergunst)