Swansea SA1


For my main second year project for my university degree I documented the continuing redevelopment of Swansea docks. This area has changed rapidly over the last few years and continues to do so, some of the sheds have been converted into restaurants, and modern apartments are being built. For my continuing research into this project, I have been looking at photographers such as Joel Sternfeld’s high line

<a href=”http://www.thehighline.org/galleries/images/joel-sternfeld&#8221; rel=”nofollow”>www.thehighline.org/galleries/images/joel-sternfeld</a>

Donovan Wylie’s project documenting the Maze prison in Northern Ireland

<a href=”http://www.magnumphotos.com/c.aspx?VP=XSpecific_MAG.BookDetail_VPage&pid=2K7O3R15OU4Q&#8221; rel=”nofollow”>www.magnumphotos.com/c.aspx?VP=XSpecific_MAG.BookDetail_V…</a>.

All the images from these two projects are so interesting yet still objective and detached. Whilst I have always tried to photograph as objectively as possible, my views as to the importance of this subject(Objectivity) are gradually changing. I now no longer know where I stand with regards to editing or changing what was actually seen for a better image. And because of this dilemma- I have decided to keep an open mind.

Andreas Gursky regularly edits his images these days, His image of the apartments; Monteparnasse  has been digitally edited to exaggerate what was actually seen, to make things larger than life, to fit in with his own view of the modern world. The apartments shown in the images from my current project have become a central element within the series, but that was never intended. They figure in a lot of the images, which eases the transition from one image to the next. The design of the buildings is definitely of our time, something which I feel is important, because it indicates the time of build, but more importantly it indicates a shift in the UK as a whole. Once thriving industrial areas in a once producing country are now places of residence for office workers and bankers with companies that generate most of their money abroad. This I feel is quite apt in the current economic climate.

Andreas Gursky, Montparnasse-

<a href=”http://c4gallery.com/artist/database/andreas-gursky/gursky-paris-montparnasse-large-print.jpg&#8221; rel=”nofollow”>c4gallery.com/artist/database/andreas-gursky/gursky-paris…</a>

Working in the SA1 part of Swansea has made me begin to research other bodies of work that I feel are important, such as Donovan Wylie’s Afghanistan images, and some of Harry Gruyaerts work, because of the actual look and feel of the places photographed, as well as working in areas with restrictions on photography. Harry Gruyaerts use of colour is very inspiring, whilst the way Donovan Wylie composes fits in with my own way of working.

<a href=”http://www.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP=XSpecific_MAG.PhotographerDetail_VPage&l1=0&pid=2K7O3R13ND_Y&nm=Harry Gruyaert” rel=”nofollow”>www.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP=XSpecific_MAG.Photographer…</a>

All the as yet undeveloped areas of the SA1 part of Swansea, have been cleared ready for development, areas which 20 or so years ago would have been left open, are now fenced off using chain link fencing or 10-12 feet high bright red fence panels to control entry and to signify that the land is owned or controlled. I have never been sure whether the use of red was an intentional subconscious warning symbol for would be trespassers or just a completely random choice of colour by a cash strapped council. Either way, I feel the use of red has added something to the images. The way each area of land has been sectioned off made me initially think of some kind of reserve set aside for North American Indians or maybe the outskirts of a concentration camp. I wanted to try to emphasise the size of the area involved, the sparse nature of the place, and its position between Swansea central to the left and Port Tennant to the right. As each area is redeveloped, pathways between each prepared ‘box’ of land are opened up, which makes it feel like you are being controlled or coerced into going only to places you are allowed.

The Cranes around the docks have become monoliths to a previous time, like lego sculptures reaching for the sky, not many remain, and I think they will all eventually be decommissioned. As they are one of the main indicators of the original use of the land, I felt that it was important to show them as often as possible emphasising the split between the past and the present.

This work is an ongoing project and more images will be added until completion.
More of this project can be seen at-

All images are my own works, ©leecoates2011

For all image useage enquiries, please email me at-