Thursday, August 19, 2010

On the Road

An excellent photo project by Sam Mellish.

On my travels up and down the 'A' roads (and quite a lot of the 'B', 'M' and 'C' ones as well...) of Britain, I've often thought about the roadside vans and cafes that spring up in laybys at the side of the road. Often named after some eponymous owner, or girlfriend, and offering "credit crunch breakfasts" or "big baps"...

Sam has been documenting some of these places in East Anglia, in an exhibition, which can be seen HERE. Sadly I just missed seeing the exhibition of actual images just down the road in Ely.
A book of his WIDER wandering is also available, which I notice focuses on the A303 which I've driven along 4 times in the last few months too...

The one I pass most frequently, which is just north of Sam's main area of focus, has a table with a nice view across the Nar Valley towards Castle Acre. I saw the owner packing up in the rain the other day - probably not a good day for custom... Also drove past Wendy's Bus Cafe earlier today.

Thanks to Joe Moran for the tipoff via his blog...

There are some nice geographies to be explored here in terms of:
Territory: who 'owns' a particular pitch or layby - is there conflict over these ?
Customers: what range of social groups use the cafes, are they inclusive/exclusive ?
Location: what views are offered ? what are the interactions between the customers ?
Sourcing of ingredients - local ?
Cultural links... the rules of the road... groups of people using the road for different purposes...

What else can you think of ?

Something I particularly like is Sam's use of a "tube-map" style diagram to summarise his travels. This will go into a collection of similar tube-map remixed images that I'm collecting for an event in London later in the year.

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