A series of photographs by Brian David Stevens, 'looking out' from the coastal counties of Britain
In his book The Rings of Saturn, W.G. Sebald describes the sea anglers along the shore near Lowestoft. He writes: ‘I do not believe that these men sit by the sea all day and all night so as not to miss the flounder rise or the cod come in to shallower waters, as they claim. They just want to be in a place where they have the world behind them, and before them nothing but emptiness'.
This emptiness was what I set out to observe on my series Brighter Later.
Of course, emptiness can mean many things, but to me it was a space wanting to be filled, a space of optimism and possibilities. Looking out to sea you truly are looking into the future, seeing the weather and the waves that will at some point arrive at the shores of this island, you predict their inevitable, unstoppable approach. You look out rather than look in.
As an island race we have always looked out: to find food from the sea, to find opportunity to trade, to find adventure, and to find ourselves.
The project had to be a journey, following the coastline of Britain taking in the coastal counties and producing a seascape from each. The work is presented as diptychs - a hangover from childhood when I would stare at landscapes first through the left eye and then through the right, delighted by the differences in the two views.
Each frame reflects the northern light and muted tones of our island. This is not the Mediterranean light of Matisse but the same tones that were known to seamen leaving naval ports, fishermen following the herring along the east coast, immigrants from Ireland and emigrants to the new world.
Photography writer Wayne Ford said: 'Brighter Later is a series of images marked by the subtle nuances of change, that require the viewer to not simply look upon the photographic image, but allow these gentle photographs — like the sea itself — to flow over them; and in doing so they are not so much about the here and now, but an optimistic representation imbued with a sense of hope and the better things to come'.
Click on any thumbnail to view the gallery full size.