Leisure has always been a fascinating subject for photographers; in the post war period it has become particularly interesting, as it has infected all strata’s of society and, as an activity, has become as significant as going to work. We work hard and we are coerced into playing hard. Leisure activities need to be as easy to get to as the work place – they are part of the same system. In the modern environment leisure and work comfortably co-exist, they depend on each other, though not everybody agrees to take part.
Leisure parks, now mushrooming in modern cities have become an integral part of the fabric of urban and suburban life; they are part of the machine. Work and leisure operate together - leisure purporting to provide the freedom that work claims it cannot do. Both spaces are controlled in particular ways; we go in and out of buildings or spaces, we get paid to go to work and then we pay to take part in leisure. Leisure activities allow us to “get away from it all” (work), to relax, to get fit and/or to discover new things about ourselves. Many leisure pursuits are designed for the whole family (work spaces are generally out of bounds for family units). Leisure can also be good for us, keep us fitter and healthier; a way of fighting off the ills of work.
The leisure spaces that we photographed in Beauvais are all to some degree spectacular, they confirm a need for us to feel immersed in pleasure through leisure as opposed to the often mundane environments that dull us at work. Leisure and work appear to oppose one another (in society), one is a relief from the other
“…leisure becomes part of the totality of modern everyday life (sustaining industrial forms of work) and at the same time must represent a break – or at least appear to do so. Just as the nature of work and its social relations becomes the subject of contemporary thought in the nineteenth century, the sociology of leisure becomes integral to the analysis of everyday life in the twentieth century.”
From Pleasure Brand: Material Culture and Experience at Butlins Bognor Regis
Dr Roni Brown in Resort 1.
The project Loisirs, which has been made in collaboration with Team Fox (Vicki Churchill, Andrew Bruce and Michael Floor), has intentionally observed leisure spaces as organized environments that direct us (the users) how to negotiate them. Many of these sites of leisure employ dynamic designs/interiors, inspiring immersion and engagement. I have become interested in a collapsing of time within the image, images that may have a closer relationship to memory than a typical decisive moment might have. These photographs were made using large and medium format cameras and portable studio lighting. Many of them have been created from a series of images, through digital construction, though I propose they represent a real memory.
Special thanks to everyone who was photographed and to all the leisure spaces that allowed us inside: Cinespace; Speed Parc; Parc St Paul; Aquaspace; Decathlon and Cariwood.
Thanks also to Vicki Churchill, Andrew Bruce, Michael Floor (Team Fox), to the wonderful Adriana and Fred from Diaphane, to Petra and ………………. And ….. for their valuable assistance and to Stephen Catten, at Photo1st, whose production is fantastic.