Victoria J Dean: The Fortified Coastline 6 Oct - 24 Nov 2012
For this new body of work Victoria J. Dean focuses on the built environment of the coastline. Two years in the making, Dean circumnavigated and documented the entire coastline of the island of Ireland to further investigate the theme of our human compulsion to rationalise space.
Dean’s work highlights the many overlooked, often absurd or jarring aspects of the contemporary coastal environment. She records the different eras of seaside architecture in their various states of regeneration and disrepair: from the brutal whimsy of public lavatories, totalitarian bus shelters and architectural flourishes in concrete to ‘temporary’ containers, pared back promenades resembling prison perimeters and modern, functional leisure areas. With a sometimes bemused eye she also records the plethora of regulations and health and safety warnings that line areas along the coast. According to Dean, “the various fortifications including urban furniture, encourage us to survey the natural environment from the safety of the man-made, be it from behind a wall, or from a bench”. While many fortifications and signs do have sound environmental and safety purposes the sheer abundance and caution (in safeguarding) may appear as nothing more than the crooked index finger of a nanny state.
Fortified Coastline asks the viewer to reconsider these familiar landscapes of leisure. It highlights a tension between nature and the encroachment of human development on the landscape but even further it emphasises the attempt to control human behaviour in these spaces. Through meticulous documentation Dean’s work attempts to create a new iconography of coastal spaces.
This exhibition has been made possible through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and their Artists Career Enhancement Programme (ACES).
About the Artist: Dean graduated in 2003 with BA (Hons) Photography from Blackpool and the Fylde College. She is a member of Young Photographers United and was selected in 2007 for PDN's 30 Emerging Photographers to Watch. Dean has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in the UK and Ireland and has appeared in publications including Magenta Foundation and the British Journal of Photography. She has won awards from ACNI, Magenta Foundation and NIVAF.