Sunday, 18 September 2011

Bognor in bloom

New look

Bognor is blooming! Well it was two weeks ago when I spent a few days there. Bognor is taking part in Britain in Bloom and full of floral displays. I was struck from time to time by how the displays sat within the context they were placed in, sometimes complementing it and and sometimes not - serving almost as a commentary on the place they found themselves in. I spent some time exploring the town with my camera, and here is what I saw.

The picture immediately above is the first picture I took in this series - I loved the colour and exuberance of the display but found it sat oddly among the 1960s concrete that is Bognor town centre.

The gooseberry bush

Hatter's Inn (fag break)
Shopping and gossip, with views of victorian Bognor in the background.

I like the energy in the first of the two picture above but think it is flawed because it is at an odd angle. The second one is slightly better composed, and if I hadn't seen the first (the one that got away) I might like it better. What do you think?

Royal Hotel Cafe

Bognor Regis is rather proud of its royal heritage. Once a place where royalty and the upper sections of society came to take the sea air, "bugger Bognor!" is widely, but probably incorrectly, reported to have been King George V's last utterance. The town today still has many elegant villas but changes in British holiday patterns, sea air and demograhic changes make the town an interesting combination of faded elegance, seaside brashness and peeling plaster. And flowers. The two faded chairs drew my eye to this scene. they look a little mournful to me.

This rather taseful display is in front of a block of seafront flats. I liked the silvery grey benches and the lovely planting - some elements of which seemed almost to glow is the soft light. I seemed to be the only person actually in this quite large public space. I did hear some signs of life from the flats and expect a few people were watching and wondering what I was up to.

Marine Court

Rose house

I find it hard to explain what drew me to the two houses above - the flowers obviously were part of it, but also looking at them I found a strange kind of contained otherness, something slightly surreal. Here they are anyway. Over the winter I may do a series of Bognor buildings.


  1. Good stuff; progressive.

    The stand out for me is Market; there's a frisson of strangeness to it.

    There are probably two or three different approaches represented by these images.

    Perhaps they need to be streamed in chapters to co-exist.

  2. I like this set, Eileen, and as you know I'm fascinated by what makes people create 'gardens' in unlikely places.

    Of the two with the lady with the walking sticks, I agree that there is an odd angle in the first one but I probably wouldn't have given it any thought if you hadn't mentioned it. I think they both work, although the focus in the second one doesn't look as sharp and the exposure is lighter. I'd be inclined to say never mind about the angle, it's street photography, and that's accepted as often not being technically perfect. It adds to the feeling that the shot was taken spontaneously and therefore is in keeping with the general 'feel'.

    Of the two houses, what really strikes me about the first one is that it has a cottage garden, complete with picket fence, in front of a box-like, modernist structure, and it creates a weird sort of tension between the two - a bit surrealistic, as you say. (It makes me feel that the occupants are yearning for a cottage in the country, while being stuck in their sixties cube.) There's something of the same in the second one. The house and fence are so symmetrical that they make the flowers and foliage look out of place.

  3. Just had another thought about the Rose House: it looks like they sit in the glassed-in balcony a lot and it seems quite odd to seal yourself off from the weather so completely. I wonder if they ever actually sit in their garden? Front gardens are almost more interesting than back gardens because we rarely use them ourselves and so they're purely for other people to see. They say a lot about how you want to present yourself to the world.