Monthly Archives: April 2011

25 years ago

I can remember what i was doing when Princess Diana was killed, when the Iraq war started and a few other major incidents in my life, but can only just remember the Chernobyl accident, the accident was covered up for days after the accident and was eventually sweden that detected the radiation.

I can remember radiation being detected in wales and scotland though and some farms not being able to sell their animals, it wasnt until 24 years later after discovering a passion for urban exploration that i started to plan my trips there, I am starting to get quite a dark holiday destination list, Auschwitz, Chernobyl, even on a trip to Barcelona we took a day trip to visit an abandoned water park, maybe the next holiday will be somewhere tropical… nah, i dont think so.

Walking round Chernobyl is quite an odd feeling, its so quiet there, apart from the occasional dog barking, you dont get the sense of any past tragedy, not like Auschwitz so its hard to empathise with the past occupants, but everyone can imagine how awful it would be to be told to leave your home for a week, taking the bare minimum of possessions and then never being able to return and the looting thats taken place is extreme. everything of any value has been taken from the homes and from the buildings, im not sure how long after the accident, the exclusion zone was put in place, it would be certainly more difficult to take items out of it now, but there are still apparently roads that are accessible, and routes through more dangerous parts of the countryside.

I watched Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky (link is below) when i returned from my trip, this is a story about guides entering an exclusion zone (this instance around an alien landing) and gives a good impression of the feelings you get around Chernobyl and Pripyat, it is like walking around somewhere that your not quite sure about, Radiation being invisible with only the beeping of the monitor to tell you that its there and not sure what you will find around the next corner. my photos didnt capture any horror too, abandonment, decay and neglect yes, I leave the real human elements to the reportage photographers that do that alot better than i could.

There is still so much work to be done there, the grounds are being cleared for a new container, and Chernobyl town itself is being remodelled into an educational centre. There are lessons to be learned from all this, unlike Fukushima, Chernobyl was a human accident arising from a routine test, and like all the other environmental disasters, oil spills,leaks and global warming, are all down to our reliance on non-renewable energy

Spare a thought today for the people of Ukraine and those still working within Chernobyl, either to continuously work on the reactor, or those working within the educational or other services


Magazine submissions

I spent all weekend putting together a CD of a shortlisted 16 images and printing out contact sheets and letters. Its been alot of work getting this all together but I am happy with the outcome.

Today im sending these out to 3 photo magazines and 2 travel magazines. It feels quite nerve racking actually, i knew that doing the exhibition would be exposing myself and my art to the outside world but hadnt actually realised that it would be this hard to do.
Photo competitions were bad enough with one judge and anonymity but this feels alot different. Hopefully because of my chosen subject matter and the fact that the photos should hopefully be different to the others that these magazines recieve, that my fears are unfounded.
If this is to work at all then it will be now if ever.

Now the work starts

The second trip to the zone was as amazing as the first, i think you could spend month here and still not take it all in although The whole experience is still as humbling as the first trip
I think i was a bit more focussed this time though, i soaked up more of the atmosphere, appreciated more of the silence and deadly quiet of the once occupied city.

Plans are underway in Chernobyl to transform one of the shops into a museum/education centre and there is an area of land opposite thats being landscaped to display all the monuments from surrounding villiages in one place.
My Diaries for this trip are uploaded and linked below, now i am continuing to work through the photo development and hopefully start to put together my final selection in the next few weeks