Site Specific Project- The River Sherbourne- Colin Walker

After looking into the exact route of the River Sherbourne and the work of Colin Walker, I decided to email Colin to find out any further information that he could give me regarding the river and its journey. I comprised an email, as seen below, and sent it to him using the contact details on his website,

Here is my email I sent to Colin Walker, I decided not to ask loads and loads of question as I wanted Walker to talk freely about the River and his personal experiences around it.

Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 11.28.56

After a few days I received a reply from Colin, he gave me a great amount of detail and even offered to help me with my project where needed. Below is some of the information and advice Colin Walker gave to me:

  • “Parts have been straightened and ‘canalised’ and the meanders removed. Parts have been used as major dumping grounds. Parts have become wildlife areas by beneficial neglect. Parts have been covered over and many of the tributaries have been put in underground pipes. Some of the tributaries have almost disappeared under new housing estates. Many pipes and gullies have been fed into the streams and the river has been mistreated in many ways but continues its inevitable way.” This could be an interesting area to look at in my photographs, echoing my ideas of how humans have affected and changed the natural landscapes. I could photograph both the river’s journey through the landscape as well as the surrounding area, showing how as the river becomes closer to the city centre, the impact of human presence increases around the river.
  • “I often choose a good day to go and walk, sometime cycle and sometimes drive to various parts of the river. This is a recurring activity for the nature of the river changes with the seasons. The flora changes and the river can look lush or bare, each having its charm.” Unfortunately for this project I will not be able to photograph the river over a large period of time, capturing the different seasons. However I could consider photographing at different times of day, looking how the lighting effects the look of the river. This would be interesting to experiment with but as my main focus is on the journey of the river and my own personal journey down the river, I want to focus on these areas and produce images that are visually similar when it comes to lighting.
  • “Much of the river is beautiful and presents an ‘ideal’ English landscape and some of it shows dereliction and neglect and even vandalism. Almost everything about it is interesting – to me at least and there is much worth photographing and recording both good and bad.” In my photographs I want to document the ‘true’ journey pf the river, not just looking at the ‘ideal’ English landscape but also looking at the idea of how man has affected the natural landscape and how this can be seen along the journey of the River Sherbourne.
  • “I am prepared to spend time showing you a lot of its many features. We should start on my, or your, computer where I can show maps and photographs and we can work out an itinerary for your photography. I am quite happy to use my car for getting us to destinations and would be happy for you to bring a friend with you if you wish. Some of it we can walk from the city centre but the sources are typically four miles out.” This is an incredibly kind offer, Colin is willing to take time out of his day to work with me and help with my project. I want to first start by going out and collecting my own photographs and documenting my journey rather than being shown Colin’s personal journey and route he took, looking at specific locations set by him.
  • “I would be happy to sit with you in the university and explain my website pictures to you and just talk about the river.” As Colin has been so kind to offer to help with my project what I thought was if I gathered my own photographs documenting my journey and then came together with Colin and we could talk about our own experiences, comparing photographs. Once I have collected a wide range of my own photographs travelling along the river, after showing them to Colin if he believed I had missed key points or locations I would then take him up on his offer to show me what I am missing.

Emailing Colin Walker has been very useful as he has offered to help with my project as well as giving me ideas of different photographs I could take. I can now go out and begin to collect my own photographs documenting the journey of the river and my own personal journey of discovery.


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