Photo of the week on the Point102 blog comes again from Caravan Gallery. We featured their remote Australian scenic photo spot back in September and the delightful chocolate fountain in a church on July’s blog. Caravan Gallery are still going strong with their 2015/2016 ‘Pride of Place’ exhibition tour which left Diffusion Festival at ffotogallery in October. The next stop will be the Museum of Lancashire in Preston, the exhibition opens on 30th January and runs until 31st March.
This image of the West Pier in Brighton captures a transitional moment when the pier is collapsed but still recognisable. Opened in 1866, the pier was the second to be built in Brighton and the first to achieve Grade 1 listed status. It closed in 1975, due to increasing costs of maintenance and then fell into disrepair. A massive storm in 2002 caused much of the main pavilion structures to collapse and this is the moment that is captured in Caravan Gallery’s photograph. By the end of 2004, the pier would have been reduced to a black skeletal drawing of a pier, with only the end pavilion section remaining, having caught fire and been subject to several more severe storms. As a tourist attraction in its heyday, it remained so even as it started to decline and be destroyed. The eerie sea-based bones of the West Pier are one of the most iconic sights of Brighton.
I had a boyfriend studying at art school in Brighton at the time and asked him to try and find me a bit of the washed up burnt pier in the days immediately after the fire. I still have that small charred piece of the pier he collected from the beach – it’s possibly the most interesting and romantic object I own. When I touch it I can feel every 1950’s Saturday night date, every 1980’s family Sunday ice-cream and the ghost of every teenager who worked the slot-machines or tearooms in return for a couple of quid to buy records, cigarettes and concert tickets.
The Caravan Gallery will be at The Museum of Lancashire, Preston, from 30th January to the 31st March.