‘Of Salt and Clay’ is an ongoing photography project exploring the environmental, cultural and community initiatives of England’s latest UNESCO Biosphere Reserve located on the Isle of Wight, a small Island off the South coast of England. Often underestimated as a place that ‘time forgot’, the Isle of Wight is now one of only seven places in the UK with UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status, given in part for the community’s ‘strong tradition of environmental action and conservation of cultural heritage’.
Through this project I want to explore the human stories of these communities and document those who are offering a more hopeful vision and model for the future when the environmental stakes are getting ever higher. The next few decades will be critical for the Isle of Wight which faces multiple issues including the mounting pressures of an acute housing crisis with 80% of lets lost over just the last 2 years, the economic toll post Covid-19 on its tourism-led economy, an ageing demographic with more than 1 in 4 Island residents over 65 (10% above the national average) increasing levels of child poverty, poor educational opportunities and low-wage job market as well as the challenges of the climate crisis on a coastal community.
In spite of these difficulties and in part because of them, my aim with ‘Of Salt and Clay’ is to uncover a resilient part and people of the Island’s Biosphere who are striving toward a shared vision at a pivotal moment in the climate crisis. I believe their combined contributions can teach us about the importance of place and provide inspiration for how communities can collaborate to foster positive change and provide some much needed hope for the future.
Pictured: Francesca Cooper of The Modern Kitchen Garden, a regenerative market garden based here on the Island.
I will be sharing more soon.