From the Archives – Rooftops

As I’ve now mentioned several times, probably my biggest ‘hardship’ in all of this is not being able to go outside for walks with (or without) my camera. It’s what I miss the most. This definitely makes me one of the very fortunate.

I’ve tried to keep my camera as active as possible with the Scene From Home brief. I’ve always believed that anything can be the subject of a photograph so while there is perhaps less diversity at the moment, there is still material with which to work.

As well as making new pictures, there’s plenty of other Photography related activities that can still be done on lockdown – activities which, like the subjects we now photograph, are perhaps often ignored or neglected. One such activity is going through one’s archives (or hard drives) and considering or reconsidering old work.

With outdoor pursuits limited to trips to the supermarket or chemist’s, some in Spain have taken to their rooftops in search of a place to stretch their legs and get some outdoor exercise. This is essentially harmless if done in isolation but still not actually allowed under our lockdown rules, which are of course there for a reason and thankfully seem to be having some effect in reducing the rates of infection and fatality.

Anyway, leaving that tangent on the legality of rooftop wandering aside, I’d like to share a series of photographs made in 2017 on the rooftop of a different building to the one where I live now, but very typical of many Spanish buildings. I’d like to think that this is another example of the possibility to find subjects for photographs anywhere, and that anything can be the subject of a photograph – William Eggleston called it Democratic Photography.

The rooftop is where I used to go to hang my washing out to dry. Firstly, as someone who comes from a country of low houses with pitched rooves, it’s actually something of a novelty to be able to just walk out onto a rooftop and see the street from above, as well as quite a lot of uninterrupted open sky.

Secondly, I’ve become somewhat obsessed with the slight untidiness of a great deal of buildings in Spain. I grew up helping my dad build an extension to our house, and a lot of the sloppiness I see in things like brickwork and masonry would have been punishable offences for my siblings and me as children, never mind professional construction workers. When it comes to electrical cabling if often looks outright dangerous, although it seems to do the job so maybe I’m just being fussy. In any case, it interests – and often amuses – me and has become a developing theme in my photography in recent years.

Rooftops, hidden away from view most of the time, are a goldmine for apparently shoddily done electrical cabling. There’s cable everywhere. Is it all connected to anything? Does half of it still need to be there? Could some of it potentially kill you? Who knows.

All in all, after a couple of trips up and down with the washing basket I knew I had to make a trip up with my camera … these are the photographs.

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