Blast Beach is a half mile section of the County Durham coastline, a place once blighted by heavy industry. Dawdon Colliery sat on the cliff top for 84 years dumping millions of tons of coal waste straight onto the beach. A major clean-up began in 1997 but mining pollution remains.
For a decade I have walked and photographed “The Blast” often considering what would be left if our society ended today, and how our lives and culture might be interpreted by the people of the future. How would they read the cultural objects found scattered and washed up on the beach?
With future archaeology in mind I gather small artefacts, to see what they might reveal once I take them home and make simple images with them. Just as local people have mined the landfill for jewelry, and the beaches for coal, sea-glass and copper wire, in a small way I too continue to mine “Blast” for whatever items the relentless tides or recent human activities have left exposed.
Industrial items still wash up on Blast Beach but increasingly plastic dominates, often mixing with colliery waste and landfill from previous generations. In the ocean plastics will take 400 years to break down but will never biodegrade, and 90% of the UK’s coastal rubbish is single-use plastics. For every mile of our beaches there are approximately 5000 items of marine plastic pollution.
I hope that these pictures offer a small glimpse at the cultural legacy our daily choices leave behind.