Southam, Jem: The Red River

This is a different type of book to that which I’ve encountered previously. The photographic premise is that the photographer follows the Red River from source to sea through Cornwall, tracing its history, culture, people, current status, monuments, flora and fauna. All subjects are considered  equally and as a photographic project it is very powerful and moving.

The book is broken into seven sections that reflect on the myths of Cornwall, titled Black Rock, The Forest, Bolenowe (the pastoral idyll, recently reflected in Danny Boyle’s opening for the Olympics), Brea (the industrial age, the gates of hell), Dolcoath (the continued ravaging of the earth), Reskadinnick ( the use of wealth to construct a better future), and Godrevy (post-industrial leisure).  In fact having considered Boyle’s themes for the Olympics it seems very possible that he has also read this book.

Various poems and quotes appear in the sections, with an essay at the end. It’s not just a photographic book but a self-contained reflection on a specific area of modern Britain. It’s also not a tourist brochure for Cornwall, and in that respect it is a very useful guide as to what may be required in People & Place assignment 4. I only found the book after submitting my assignment, and I’m now racing to complete everything for the final assessment, but I am going to try and update my assignment with some of the insights  gained from seeing this work.

Southam, Jem.1989: The Red River. Cornerhouse Publications
ISBN-13: 978-0948797255


About watlvry

Flaneur for my own ailments; government and corporate hypocrisy; guitar stuff; the music business; home made videos featuring home made tunes played at home; a bit of golf; and of course photography. Specifically "art" photography (doesn't exist) and contemporary photography ( sadly does exist in all its grotesque reality).
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3 Responses to Southam, Jem: The Red River

  1. Catherine says:

    It looks an interesting book – multi-faceted.

    • watlvry says:

      I’ve starting reading Geoff Dyer’s “The Ongoing Moment” following posts in the forum (we must be Amazon’s best customers) and noted similarities in his approach, in that he inserts little snippets from Wordsworth to illustrate various points. I’ve been reading all my life and only now recognised this device. Wish I’d signed up with the OCA years ago.

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