Photofusion Member | Frankie McAllister
Project statement: Canvey Island is famous for being below sea level, for it’s devastating flood, for being the birthplace of Dr Feelgood, for Essex-ness and for it’s omni-present dominating sea wall. Although just 30 miles outside of London, it might be a different country – it has a reputation for ‘otherness’ and an island independence, having returned one of the top 5 highest pro-Brexit votes in the entire country.
It’s also place of change with it’s sprawling chalet parks and housing estates and the population continues to increase with Londoners moving out, following the long tradition of moving eastwards from the East End in search of more space, fresh air and a better life. The town has a strangely artificial ‘just-built feeling but there is a determined sense of community and a lot of evidence of pride and care shown in the kilometres (24 kilometres!) of pale blue painted sea wall, the imported sand, stoical wind battered potted palms and the public art documenting the heroes of the great flood in 1953. There are dozens upon dozens of benches lining the kilometres of sea wall, mostly marked in commemoration of residents now gone. Back from the sea towards Leigh Beck, there are boat yards and marshes, moorings and the continuation of the sea defences alongside Canvey Island Creek across the water from Benfleet. The other dominant feature is the outline of the long established petrochemical installations which has made the area a site of SSI as well as offering employment to the island locals – it is a combination of industrial estate and seaside resort but, very much, a place apart. This is series is a side extension of my project Corridor, documenting the areas alongside arterial routes out of London.