Friday, May 08, 2009

River Axe Crossings

One more riverine post before I leave the subject for a bit...

Colin Sackett has kindly sent me his River Axe Crossings, a visual survey that pairs photographs taken up and downstream at each of the river's forty-one crossings - from two wooden sleepers laid across the stream near the river's source, all the way down to Axmouth Bridge, near where it meets the sea. The book has a symmetrical design and each double page spread contains, in addition to the images, some text describing the crossing and what can be seen there. These texts resist the temptation to poeticise the landscape and are instead simple and factual, e.g. for crossing number four, Axe Ford:
  • downstream - 'As the name suggests, once a crossing by shallow ford, now a plain concrete slab across the stream.'
  • upstream - 'The river channel winding amongst the wooded banks and the small-scale meandering of erosion and deposition.'
As a set of river landscapes the photographs are not especially picturesque - they look as if they might have been chosen at random from the course of the river but are, of course, quite the opposite, marking the places people selected over many years to make their River Axe crossings.

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