Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The Oldham Road Rephotography Project
Author: Meecham, Charles
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 4565
Awarding Body: University of Sunderland
Current Institution: University of Sunderland
Date of Award: 2015
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This PhD by prior publication comprises a major rephotography project undertaken in two phases (First View, 1986-89 and Second View, 2009-12), together with a written commentary. The project is based on an area along the A62 which connects Manchester to Oldham, a corridor route, which I considered invisible and between places, a seeming ‘non place’.1 The research questions how can topographic images made by adopting strategies of rephotography help to depict aspects of place that remain hidden in generic representations and how, in turn, this photographic record can be put to use. The accompanying critical commentary investigates how this project came to be realised, the photographic research methodologies employed, and relevant contextual frameworks together with the different contexts through which the work has been disseminated and shared. It considers what the practice of rephotography contributes as a visual research method when analysing the shifting topography of a specific urban corridor. Further to this, it suggests ways in which such rephotography can engage different audiences and communities in debate about lived experience of social and economic change. The First View photographic research project was initially conducted by making a series of visits to the area each year recording transformation through redevelopment projects and subtler changes such as incidental events on the street and the variations of seasons. The project took an ethnographic approach to human involvement with place and space (Massey, D. 1994) as well as drawing upon anthropological methods that employ photography as a research tool (Prosser, J. 1998). Outputs from this project demonstrate processes adopted and examples of the photography made. A selection of photographs from First View became a touring exhibition shown in Oldham and Manchester (1986-87) and then in London. A book was also published by the Architectural Association (1987) with a commentary written by Ian Jeffrey. The second view (2009-12) revisits the first survey and considers what happened after. I wanted to consider twenty five years on how the continued process of change may have increasingly eroded/altered the sense of place 1 This term derives from Marc Augé’s book, Lieux et Non-Lieux (2001). 6 within the community. Since the First View a number of external factors influenced how the research would continue. The political scene had changed with introduction of private initiatives and housing associations taking responsibility to manage and refurbish aging housing stock in the public sector closer to the Manchester and in areas towards Oldham. Further cleared areas remained undeveloped due to a major financial downturn. Also the adoption of digital technologies had changed how photography was made, viewed, and used. This led me to consider how the Second View could be more collaborative (Kester, G. 2011) and so modify my method and find new ways to interact with members of the community to help inform the work. Outputs included exhibitions at Gallery Oldham and The People’s History Museum, Manchester and an accompanying commentary written by Stephen Hanson. I also include reviews and examples of additional collaborative photography made and shown alongside the core exhibitions. Examples of the printed work are now housed in Oldham library (including the complete set of Second View exhibition prints, contact sheets and this written report). It is permanently accessible for public and academic use under a commons license. Although it can be argued that all photographic practice contains elements of rephotography, this project contributes to original knowledge through analysis of processes used to make the first long-term comparative and detailed photographic study of the Oldham Road as an area exemplifying shift from industrialisation to service provision. ‘Hermeneutic perspectives emphasise photographs as texts, demanding semantic and semiotic interpretation to determine meaning’ (Margolis and Rowe, 2012). The corridor is now undergoing further changes as new projects by housing associations and globalised business begin to fill the spaces left by previous clearances. My published work shows connections, continuities and breakages and new questions emerge about what values are worth preserving for a future community. I suggest that a continuing photographic element can contribute to an understanding of incidental detail that can influence a more sensitive management of infrastructure and potentially help residents adjust to change and thus maintain their sense of place.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Documentary Photography