This work is a part of a series which examines ruined and decaying structures on Saunton Sands in North Devon in the light of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem, Ozymandias. I’ve known this poem since I was a schoolboy but it wasn’t until some years ago that I became aware of the poem’s specific reference. I was working with the photographer, David Couling, on a proposal for a book documenting Egyptian monuments as they are now based on paintings by the artist David Roberts who visited the Holy Land and the wider middle east in the late 1830s. Sadly the project didn’t attract finance and was abandoned but the images stayed with me. Filtered by Shelley’s poem and the images of the two Davids, a feeling of recognition was sparked when I first encountered a ruined structure on the edge of Braunton Burrows. The poem is a memento mori and a warning against hubris: “…Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! / Nothing beside remains. Round the decay / Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare / The lone and level sands stretch far away.” In this series, I have reconfigures photographs and combined them with forms I have used in previous work as a process of reclaiming or personalising the image in order to reframe the ruins within a new historical and literary setting. As such, I hope to draw out the universal nature of human emotions, the fragility of understanding and the mutability of our sense of place.
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