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The Cambridgeshire Fenlands: The Royal Photographic Society


'Save the date for the RPS Contemporary SIG conference, a weekend looking into the issues of the Fenlands near Cambridge, featuring speakers Justin Minns and Peter Corr.'

During a two-day event to be held at Foxton, Cambridgeshire over the weekend of 13th-14th May 2023 I will be giving a presentation to the RPS Contemporary Group.

dyke, Cambridgeshire, peter corr cut, photo, photography, the royal photography society, rps group contemporary, event talk, may 2023 peter corr pete, talks events photos photographer new bedford river sutton gault
New Bedford River, Sutton Gault

The loosely based theme for the weekend is based around the vulnerability of the Fenland area to rising sea levels, coastal erosion and threat to a highly industrialised agricultural industry with ongoing impact on food security in these uncertain times we live in. When I started this project, I didn't have a specific objective in mind, I was simply drawn to the understated nature of the Fenland landscape.


For those of you who don't know this area of East Anglia, and unless you looked out of the car window as you headed towards the Norfolk coast, you probably won't. At first sight, there is little by way of topographical interest to attract the tourist or inspire the artist, poet or photographer.

dyke, Cambridgeshire, peter corr cut, photo, photography, the royal photography society, rps group contemporary, event talk, may 2023 peter corr pete, talks events photos photographer
Recently cut dyke, Coveney, Cambridgeshire

It is a landscape characterised by flat and relatively featureless terrain, etched with arrow-straight rivers and supplementary dykes and drains dividing the fields of cash crops on either side. Long empty roads sink back into the peat fens like a series of low-key roller coaster rides. The occasional derelict farmhouse, with corrugated rooves and the detritus of rusting farm machinery, conjure images of lives lived in harder times. Random clumps of tall trees demarcate land ownership and provide perfunctory punctuation along the vast horizons. But there is something here. And I guess that something is the absence of most of the elements we would expect in the romantic tradition of the landscape.

dyke, Cambridgeshire, peter corr cut, photo, photography, the royal photography society, rps group contemporary, event talk, may 2023 peter corr pete, talks events photos photographer, ouse washes
Ouse Washes

This is a man-made utilitarian stretch of agricultural land, much of it below sea level, that owes its existence to Dutch engineers and the labourers who dug the trenches to keep the waters of the wash at bay. But even King Canute knew that you can't hold back the tide indefinitely


With climate change now established and increasingly threatening the fragile equilibrium of our natural world, the Fenlands may be on the frontline of events beyond our control. At the moment, the network of drains, pumping stations, flood plains and dykes maintain the precarious balance between sea and land but there is little doubt that we are all living on borrowed time.

dyke, Cambridgeshire, peter corr cut, photo, photography, the royal photography society, rps group contemporary, event talk, may 2023 peter corr pete, talks events photos photographer house on the march road abandoned house monochrome building derelict fenland
House on the March road


"Fens at Risk - Contemporary SIG conference - Save the Date
Save the date for the RPS Contemporary SIG conference, a weekend looking into the issues of the Fenlands near Cambridge, featuring speakers Justin Minns and Peter Corr.
This event will be held on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th May 2023 in Foxton, Cambridgeshire. All SIG and RPS members from the UK and beyond are encouraged to take part.
The weekend aims to investigate the ‘Threat to the Fens’ by lack of infrastructure maintenance or the ‘Backdoor re-naturalisation’ of habitat by lack of investment – or whatever other issues you discover in this weekend mix of lectures, practical photography and discussion.
With a third of the Fens currently below sea level, the area has a network of flood protection infrastructure that is nearing the end of its design life and will soon need significant investment. With the increasing effects of climate change, flood infrastructure is key in providing water resources and sustaining the environment. Sea levels are predicted to rise by up to a metre by the end of the century. On this basis, without major sea defences, the sea could reach the outskirts of Cambridge and Peterborough; flood much of East Norfolk; and drown large areas of coastal land in Suffolk and Essex. A further effect of climate change is increasingly heavy rainfall which overloads rivers, the potential for severe flooding is considerable in the region.
Our speakers will discuss their photography and experiences in the Fenland.
Justin Minns, author of this best-selling photo-location and visitor guidebook “Photographing East Anglia”, spent 2015 photographing the East Anglian coast as a commission for the National Trust. Justin will present images taken for that project and other work he has done for the National Trust.
Peter Corr will show us his viewpoint where this land called the Fenland exists as a black and white rudimentary, utilitarian landscape, reclaimed from the sea, re-purposed and reconfigured. His photographs include landscapes, buildings, rivers, trees and roads and are included in his book “Fenland” and were exhibited at the ‘Beyond the Image’ photographers gallery in Suffolk in 2021.
Spread over two days, with a dinner on Saturday evening, the event will soon be available on the RPS portal – but meanwhile, save the date in your calendars: 13-14 May 2023."


Peter Corr's Photo Prints in Room Settings


Hopefully,y see you there at the Royal Photographic Society. If you are interested in purchasing a print of my photography, paintings, or an original painting, feel free to contact me directly here.


Other Upcoming Exhibitions and Art Fairs

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