British Pillboxes - a Poignant Reminder

I first became aware of Britain’s concrete war defences on a cycle ride from Scotland to Cornwall in 2009. My journey deliberately avoided main arterial routes, and I soon noticed how many of these brutal looking structures were still intact -­ a strange, eerie assortment of decaying bunkers scattered across the countryside.

I am by training both an architectural and landscape photographer, so I was drawn to these structures not just as built objects but also as curious interventions in the landscape. Back in the spring 2010 I took out my old architectural view camera and some 5x4 transparency film and began to make photographs.

To describe how these structures sit in the landscape has always been my intent, but in doing so I wanted to convey a sense of place, and capture the atmosphere of their environment -­ in fields and hedgerows, on marshland and beaches, in hillsides and cliffs. As objects they are hard and robust, but there is also a sense of fragility and decay with these structures. Where they do remain nature is slowly reclaiming them and in some cases, completely erasing them from view.

2015 was the 75th anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuation and the desperate building programme that followed. After 5 years of working on this project in my spare time I was invited to exhibit the photographs at The Architectural Association in London.

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My commissioned architectural work can be viewed at richardbrine.co.uk