Wednesday, 13 April 2011

My Watershed Landscape

I never imagined I'd ever call myself a reservoir nerd, but yesterday found myself using exactly that term when discussing plans for this project.  For many years I've been walking in the South Pennines and have always been drawn to the reservoirs up on the moors.  There's something about these large bodies of water, they have a strange haunting quality connected with their isolation, and a magical way of intensifying light whether completely still and crystalline or dancing in the wind.

Blackstone Edge Reservoir

Feeding the reservoirs are a complicated system of drains and conduits - the catchwaters - constructed channels or mini canals that silently run for miles and miles around the tops, carrying the reflections of sky and clouds along with them, conducting light as well as water.  You can walk along them mesmerised and letting your thoughts slide away over their long mirrored surfaces.

Rishworth Drain

And adding intrigue to the mix are the odd little reservoir towers, all different but basically the same, so tempting me to try my own version of a Bernd and Hilla Becher photographic work.  The Bechers were German artists who systematically recorded industrial architecture such as blast furnaces, water towers and pit heads, presenting them in a grid structure in black and white that looks great.

Piethorne Valley

Leeshaw Reservoir

The official Watershed Landscape straddles the Yorkshire/Lancashire border stretching all the way from Marsden Moor in the south to Ilkley Moor in the north and takes in a whole swathe of reservoirs, some of which I'd never heard of. I hope to visit them all over the next few months and made a great start last weekend when I walked to Green Withens for the first time.

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