A slight disclaimer, late 2016. Time trundles along, situations change. Inspiration and opportunities strike elsewhere. External interest wanes, even with a slick City of Culture bandwagon steamrolling by, seemingly uninterested. Feelings, ideas and naive beliefs held as a younger human may no longer necessarily apply, especially post-Brexit. Projects run their natural course, for now. Unwavering pride shifts from the town and its people to a body of photographic work of real significance, of real quality, to be discovered and appreciated in future days.
Regardless, I’ll leave this original statement intact for posterity, encapsulating the way I felt at the time of writing, in the midst of it all…
This is Sunderland is a long-term photographic project which aims to document the ever-changing industrial and historic landscape of Wearside. Shipyard remnants, current industry, old Sunderland – you name it. All images are taken on film using vintage camera equipment, in keeping with the locations and subjects.
‘You should get to know your town just like I know mine…’
Sunderland is often overlooked. Unnecessarily living in the shadow of another smaller* City, many people have forgotten over time that (in living memory) Sunderland was once one of the largest, most productive and famous industrial towns in the world.
Unfortunately over the years it has often been those who run Sunderland itself and those further afield who make important decisions who are guilty of shunning our City over the years and demonstrating a crippling lack of ambition. Sunderland’s unique features should be emphasised instead of changing to emulate other cities.
Currently – Sunderland is not perfect by any means but is a decent place, filled with good people and a lot of character. It is certainly no worse off than any other post industrial Town or City. To me, a large part of Sunderland’s charm is down to the fact that so many reminders and echoes of the past still exist, often unseen and rarely documented. What also makes Sunderland so appealing is the self effacing and down-to-earth attitude of the Wearside people.
This humble collection of photos is my attempt to gently edge Sunderland into the limelight and to reveal some of its unusual character. For all it’s imperfections and often unjustified bad press, I’m proud of my hometown and hopefully this shows in the photos.
Andy Martin – March 2009. Updated February 2011.*Tongue firmly in cheek, although this is statistically correct.