Saturday, 29 October 2011

Going only one way

One of the hardest things about documenting the erosion at Skipsea has been a lack of 'immovable' objects (see this post for previous update). You wouldn't think it, given it was an inhabited community. Yet the infrastructure appears as transient as the land it was built on. Telegraph poles, garden furniture, even houses are and have been moved, changed and adapted. So that on every visit, it is difficult to reference where the last set of pictures was taken from and the amount of actual erosion because the whole 'make-up' of the site evolves. 

Let me illustrate this point with this blue dwelling (keep an eye on the telegraph poles too). The first location I find it at in 2008 is on the cliff edge see here:

it is to the left (cliff-side) of the road
Then October 2010 the building has been relocated to the other side of the road:

And then February this year, the Council have cleared much of the site. It appears the smaller buildings have disappeared and a static caravan has been moved back. And I have no idea about the telegraph poles! It is possible the poles were moved or the building was shifted sideways to a different plot.
Then finally, last week I photograph the same building from what is left of the road and see the building has been moved back to the furthest point of the plot and there are no telegraph poles to reference any of the previous images:

And this is the tricky thing I find with long-term projects in general, they evolve and you evolve with them. And what you set out to do is quite different to how the series come together.  I didn't set out to do a time-lapse study. Had I known how fast the erosion would be my emphasis may have been different.  Originally I was interested in the 'edge' and how the houses were literally slipping in to the sea, however, I now see the road was the main point of reference, not the edge.  This piece of bark is one of the only landmarks that remains at the end of the road, literally.  Here it is as photographed last week, facing north first...  

and then below, facing south
and in February this year
and further back still in October 2008

So, going forward, the erosion will wait for no one, if anything it seems to be accelerating. I won't stop photographing the change.  But I am aware there are other sites close by that face a similar future. Here is one below...and the houses here are less holiday home and more permanent residences.  Again, I need to consider the angle and nature of my shots so that I can record change here too.  I guess on the shot below I have failed, as the land from which I have photographed will not be there for my next visit!

post edit: just found this link on the bbc website - massive landslip in the Vale of Glamorgan with some very precarious caravans on the edge.


  1. I suppose a GPS attachment would help with the positioning? Would taking photographs from the extreme edges, as you appear to have done above - wherever they may be every time you go - be another scope on the deterioration?
    Apparently the sands on the South West coastline are eroding faster there than anywhere else - I'm glad I live near Oxford, should be ok until well into retirement!

  2. That is how I instinctively tackled it as the 'edge' is always changing and fascinating. But as I have built up a library of images, there is an awful lot of crumbling edges and mud!! And they're starting to look 'samey'. I guess I need to be comprehensive and tackle all angles...

    Supposedly there is a northwest-southeast tilt with the northwest rising something like a one millimetre a year and the southeast falling the same amount...having said that the erosion doesn't seem to be at a consistent rate and is alarmingly aggressive...time will tell

    Oxford sounds a safe bet to me...