In recent months, the act of walking has taken on new significance. For many, it has been a cherished daily break, offering time for reflection and connection with the outdoors. Chip Skingley is a Photography BA graduate from UWE Bristol. The series Walk, shortlisted for the Sony World Photography Awards, explores these ideas, capturing coastlines and rural spaces.
The artist speaks to Aesthetica about the project, which is featured in UWE Bristol’s digital showcase. Showcase 2020 exhibits the work of graduating students from programmes across art, design, animation, photography and moving image.
A: What genre of photography do you work in?
CS: I work as a Documentary and Portrait Photographer focusing predominantly on coastal life, sustainable living and ideas surrounding freedom.
A: What are the themes explored in your project?
CS: The groundwork of this project was based on an exploration of ideas surrounding freedom and space. I was living in Bristol at the time and found myself constantly hitching lifts and buses towards expanses of open land or coastlines to walk through. Walking these rural landscapes lead me to intently consider what I believe – and still do believe – to be important. I became aware of a presence I had somewhat ignored or disregarded while living a five-day week in the city.
Walk is a series thatconsiders the relationships between a person and a place. My chosen place was a route in the South of Portugal called The Fisherman’s Way. It contrasted so starkly with the busyness I frequently found myself in at university because of its uninhabited nature. The route consisted of walking along a path that laced the cliff edges with the sea to my right, for a week. With each passing day I began to feel less connected to my scheduled life back home and more in tune with what was surrounding me in the moment.
All the images within the Walk series share a certain tone and quietness – much like the atmosphere I found myself in at the time. Walking as an appreciation of the process, or for the tranquility it brings, seems unconventional nowadays. People consider it solely as a transportation method between point A to point B. The Walk, as a journey and as a series, was a pilgrimage taken to rediscover what the act of walking means to me.
A: Where do you find inspiration?
CS: The people I’m immediately surrounded by are my biggest drive to create. My parents have always been an example to me because they are consistently and continually eager to discover new places and things. The same can be said for my mates. Trips with these people always get me into a creative mindset; keen to capture the genuine emotion and process of being removed from routine comforts and structures.
A: What do you hope audiences will take away from your piece?
CS: Considering the demand for relentless routine and productivity we face these days, I hope my work will provide audiences with a moment to breathe. Simple as it seems, it is within these small moments of reflection that I’ve reached personal, introspective milestones. If my work can bring that to others, I will be very pleased.
A: What are your future plans? Do you have any projects / ideas lined up?
CS: I’ve been very fortunate to receive a grant from The Sony World Photography Organisation for my new project. The work examines innate attraction to the water, travelling from different coasts across the country. The body of work will reveal the relationship between individuals and the sea: from surfers and swimmers to divers and cold-water enthusiasts. The project will be exhibited at Somerset House in London next year. Until then, I’m very excited to spend the majority of my days submerged in water.
A: What can viewers expect from UWE Bristol’s Showcase 2020?
CS: Due to the current restrictions, I haven’t been able to view a lot of my classmates’ work. Working side by side with them most days for nearly three years has been an amazing experience, as I was able to see so many directions and styles that were different to my own creative approach. The UWE Showcase platform is a great opportunity for people in the industry, including myself, to view a variety of powerful projects from very talented emerging creatives.
Discover UWE Bristol’s Showcase here.
Images courtesy Chip Skingley.