Return to Stories

Traces - Dark Clouds

This project explores the industrial hinterlands of four remote provinces in northern China: Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Shanxi and Shaanxi. In the past three decades the rapid process of industrialisation has transformed their formerly bucolic landscapes. Rampant growth, corruption and poor regulation have allowed factories to spill their untreated effluent into local streams. Over-mining has caused rivers to run dry. Noxious fumes rise and then fall again as acid rain and vast areas are stripped to make space for the looming promise of luxury apartments.

Immense swathes of agricultural land have now become the centre stage for China's industrial revolution. Linfen, which was nicknamed the Modern Fruit and Flower Town in the 1980s, is now better known as one of the ten most polluted cities in the world.

It is this space, where the edges of cities and heavy industry continually encroach upon the countryside, that has been the focus of my attention. Whilst there is no doubt that China and many of its people have benefited enormously from its economic reforms, it is also clear that the country faces an environmental crisis that puts its future in an uncertain balance.

To quote a retired truck driver in Inner Mongolia, 'Nowadays we have a better standard of living even if our life spans are shorter because of the pollution... Nothing made here stays here. Our government has exported our blue skies to the West.'

The work bears contemplative witness to the consequences of this striving for economic and financial growth, examining the tears to the land and ultimately man's impact on his surroundings. From industrialisation to pollution I am fascinated with the landscape as a repository for humanity's endeavours; being somehow a source of memory and a silent testament to our material desires.
powered by