In his works The Dirt I’m Made Of, displayed as part of his first solo exhibition at Output Gallery in September, writer and photographer SCOTT CHARLESWORTH locates the homebound escapism of the corridors that stretch over the idling sweeps in the River Mersey. The collection of photographs and poems capture his personal reflections of a landscape subtly in transit, momentarily freed from its foundations by the lives that pass over its contours.
As strange as it seems to use a symbol of the motorway in my exhibition, the work itself was birthed from the act of travelling up and down constant motorways within my life. Firstly, as a child and as a spectator, where everything seemed possible. Secondly, as a young adult and looking out through the window with a more cynical view of the world, repenting the past in hope of pastures greener. Then thirdly, as who I am now and whatever that may be; humbled by the place that I simultaneously owe nothing and everything to. There was one evening that I drove past The Sporting Ford pub, the one featured in this series. It was always an establishment that I’d been wary of, mainly because I had never seen its curtains drawn. On that one evening, despite having been set alight the night before, The Sporting Ford revealed more of its battered and boarded up self than it had ever done in my lifetime of passing it by. It was as a result of this that I felt compelled to look at old settings with the eyes given to me through these three stages of my life, catalysing the heavily romanticised and nostalgically intertwined photograph that I felt compelled to take.
The Dirt I’m Made Of
White lines on blue signs lead me back to friends of old.
Perennial youth, once made of stone, succumbed to attrition.
Their faces disfigured and weathered; their hands ground to bone.
The cracks in familiar pavement have pulled further apart;
now pits upon the floor.
The meandering workers’ misery march, still out in full force.
The same eight grey towers pollute innocent skies
in the only way that they have ever known.
Once thought invincible Northern grit
now washed upon the Western bank;
yet steel structures still stand strong.
Their demise was once thought a given.
No hope or nearby neighbour to call to arms.
Two towns, written off to
the outer world
of all their possessions,
united by industrious pillars.
Now joined by
and never to be without each other again.
Through Soot-Stained Eyes
Cooling towers and steel scarecrows
stand tall in the polluted wind;
pointing the way back home
to the children of one club towns.
We feel it,
in heart and lungs alike,
yesterday’s golden embers.
Beacons of old still remain,
within their unshakeable
The romanticised dream,
and their simpler times
get barked back
at setting sons,
in the same seats
their fathers took.
The furnace may have cooled,
or been made redundant altogether
but through the most gentle of reminders,
the once smoldering flame
returns for one last fight.