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