Locomotive Climbing Frame (2010, 110cm x 75cm)

In the Climbing Frames series there is a suggestion of the rural environment being invaded by structures from the inner city. The climbing frames, each shaped as a form of transport, are rusting and antiquated and seem slightly at odds with their countryside setting. In actuality the frames were photographed in urban environments (mainly London) and digitally transferred to the fields and villages of Kent. Such forms of recreation are probably a familiar sight to anyone who grew up in the 1960s and 70s and spent their time in municipal play areas of the British townscape. Now eradicated from the more safety-conscious playgrounds of today, the tubular steel frames of the postwar years have been condemned to history, relics of the past that encapsulate an earlier, perhaps more innocent, perception of the world. In their day, the steel frame jet planes and rocket ships offered fantasies of escape and adventure. The ability of children to use the frames to play out narratives drawn from movies and television could be said to reveal the powers of youthful imagination, given that many of the inner city areas where the frames were located were far less expressive of escape and ‘open road’ opportunity. For many working class Londoners, the Kent countryside was an achievable place of escape but often only as a temporary one: for many, the yearly exodus to the hop farms of Kent served as an enjoyable working holiday. Paradoxically, British sci-fi movies of the postwar years have been linked to a fear of outside threats. Movies such as Children of the Damned (1964) and Quatermass and the Pit (1967) point to anxieties over changes taking place in the modern world: a fear that technology or immigration might bring about irrevocable change to life within the green and pleasant land.

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