Inspired by the Coast series – Andy Little
Cornwall based photographer Andy Little highlights the fragility of the coastline and the devastating effects of climate change on our environment and coastal communities in his project, Life on the Edge.
The South West’s ocean and coastline have been my main source of inspiration for me since I moved to Cornwall about 6 years ago and arguably before this on my many visits to the area. As an obsessive bodyboarder, surfer and general ocean enthusiast, the coast and the ocean has been my place of enjoyment and source of relaxation, especially in the last few years during the pandemic. I have walked many miles of the coast path in the name of surf exploration and to find landscapes to photograph that stand out from the huge number of images we see of Cornwall. Without the maintenance of the Path, these areas of outstanding natural beauty wouldn’t be accessible for us all to enjoy.
Photographing the fragility of our coastline
My photographic exploration of Cornwall has highlighted to me the fragility of the coastline and a large number of our communities, exploring threats such as our poor treatment of the environment, a lack of financial support for some of our poorest areas (many of which are also some of the poorest in Western Europe) and the huge housing crisis driven by second homes. So in addition to using my photography to document Cornwall’s diverse beauty, my aim is to use my photography to raise awareness of our problems, including natural and societal issues, revealing that we as a society treat our people as badly as we do our environment.
Climate Change influences my photographic practice
Climate change has hugely influenced my photographic practice and I feel we all need to do what we can to try and turn the tide. I feel a huge responsibility as a new father and a consumer of the natural world to use my creativity to help raise awareness of the issues surrounding climate change. We live in an image based society and I believe that people are more likely to respond to issues when presented with visual information.
The project featured here “Life on the Edge” discusses the issue of coastal erosion, which is one of the problems faced by communities in Cornwall as well many other places in the UK. This project consists of a series of images initially shot at Praa Sands, an area heavily affected by this issue with many properties losing land at an alarming rate. These individual images were printed and these prints were then affected by various chemicals with the intention to erode the images in a similar way to how the ocean erodes the land. This process was then documented, creating the images you see here. This technique mimics a process which may take decades in nature but can be visualised through this chemical process creating these shocking, psychedelic images. My intention was to create images that represent this destruction in an artistic form and show the passage of time.
These images are the initial part of an ongoing body of work to highlight the problem of coastal erosion driven by damage to the environment resulting in the loss of land, livelihoods and homes. Within the next 20 years, 10 UK towns will be seriously damaged by coastal erosion and up to 7000 homes will be lost by the end of this century.
About our Inspired by the Coast series
With the help of poets, painters, potters and other independent artists across the south west, our Inspired By The Coast series celebrates different perspectives on what the South West Coast Path means to people and demonstrates how it creatively inspires and supports people in such different ways.
To discover more ‘Inspired by the Coast’ artists go to; https://www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk/events/explore/inspired-coast/