My longest-serving friend, Justin Hill, has been posting some great photos recently. I particularly love his pictures of Brighton (where we both grew up). Brighton usually seems to be portrayed as a kind of pleasure city (which it always has been) packed with holidaymakers, clubbers, artists and musicians, Gay Pride parades, festivals, and so on. All of which is fine and dandy, but there is another Brighton, a spooky, haunted, melancholy place, filled with odd bits of history and the strange light off the sea. That’s the Brighton which Justin photographs, catching the city and its beaches in odd moments of silence, often at sundown, or early in the morning. Look, here’s what Kensington Gardens looks like when it isn’t obscured by a heaving mass of hipsters…
And look at this recent one of the abandoned West Pier!
There are two piers in Brighton (their decks and platforms, and the rusting maze of girders and stairways beneath, were a big influence on the cities I wrote about in Mortal Engines). The Palace Pier is still going strong, but the West Pier has been out of commission for decades. I can dimly remember going on it as a very small child (there were roundabouts and things) but it was damaged by a storm a few years later, and has been slowly disintegrating ever since. There is a West Pier Trust, originally formed back in 1978 with the aim of restoring the pier, but after what was left of was set on fire it seems to have accepted that that is unlikely (you can read more about their current aims and plans here.)
Personally, I’ve enjoyed the West Pier’s decline immensely. It’s always changing, and it’s always beautiful. When I was an art student it was a wonderful, gull-haunted ruin; in my twenties it looked like a rotting wedding cake, and now it’s become this gaunt, skeletal island of corroded ironwork, which hugely improves the Brighton shoreline. Justin’s photos catch its different moods perfectly.
And he’s just as good at capturing the more Ballardian bits of Brighton, out at the eastern end of the city, where the concrete sea defences and the yacht basins of the Marina give way to primeval
tide pools and chalk cliffs…
You can see Justin’s photos on his blog, where he posts three per day, and also on Google +, where he has vast numbers of followers, or circlers, or whatever they call them on Google +. He is known as @Dark_Derek to the good folk of Twitter.
Also – and this may be relevant to your interests as Christmas draws near – Justin’s photos are available to buy as cards, prints, calendars, mugs, watches, clocks and box girder bridges from his Zazzle shop, as are his cartoons.
All images © Justin Hill.