The Border Walks is a two-part documentary photographic project, in which Giulietta Verdon-Roe walked and photographed the entire length of the two English borders of the United Kingdom on her own, traversing over 430 miles to do so.
Scotland/England’s border was walked in September 2014, during the Scottish referendum, covering over 170 miles.
Capturing the landscape, Verdon-Roe explored the essence of the reality of the physical ground in which this imaginary and arbitrary line exists, she also did this during an upheaval of the significance of what this border could become, or is, to the people of Scotland and England.
The resulting images are of course a document of the physical landscape, but are also a clear representation of the bleakness and wildness of much of the border. Whilst seeing the series as a whole, can often raise questions and trigger discussions of what Borders mean today both socially and politically within the United Kingdom.
The Welsh/English border was walked by Verdon-Roe the following year, in 2015, choosing the same month of September for consistency of feel and approach. Over 260 miles of the border was covered.
The images can now be seen in conjunction to each other, bringing together different regions of the United Kingdom under one visible format, which is tangible and comparable.
Together as a wider project they form an overview of the physical geography of the UK and through this, social and political issues can be raised; from land-use change in Wales/England and what this may mean in the years to come for communities and farmers, to the divide of bog and marsh of Scotland/England’s borders, with the potential for yet more referendums and what this will mean for the future of the UK.
All images taken on medium format film.
Giulietta Verdon-Roe, Tommy Evans & Laura Jurd
Verdon-Roe recorded ambient sound footage throughout the Scotland/England walk. On her return she collaborated with BASCA award winning composer Tommy Evans. They had met prior to the walk and discussed the possible collaboration, but were not sure whether it would work. However, on completion of the walk they went through the contact sheets and listened to the sound captured and felt it was an idea worth pursing. Together they chose sixteen images as a starting point, which Evans then worked down to eight images. These he used to compose eight original scores, creating a whole album, which reflects and reacts to the images mood and feel, whilst interweaving the ambient sounds of the borders into the tracks.
Having completed the compositions, Evans invited Grammy nominated Jazz Trumpet player Laura Jurd to come and see the images, hear the music and then improvise over the top of the tracks whilst looking at each photograph. The result is a domino effect of creativity and a collaboration that is multi-disciplinary, something that all three creatives felt there should be more room and support for within their industries. The music is also strong enough to stand alone as an individual work, but can equally still be seen alongside the Border Walks photographic imagery, both as a live performance or downloaded to be listened to whilst viewing the imagery.
Footsore the folding
Notes fast falling
Over trodden brinks
Throats of umber
A cathedral of fingers
Avalanche of light
Veins pulse green
With leaves and sap
Everywhere along the line
The mark of our artifice lingers
Place of endless past
Wreckage large on skin
Scatty dashes of human scent
Barb wire and piled rock
Rope a tie against an oak
Bovine, nose tilted north
Sniffing numbered days
Bog poles, black water rotted
And invisible figures
Impressions writ by
Sun, moon, wind, water
Offered, slammed shut
Of this silent edgeland
To grow anew and heal
Mist-wrapped the glow
Leaches out like fine sand
Corvid in the dusk
Flits the gloaming
Last breaths spent
Witness to another lap
Passing through splendour
Wet and lost forgot
Ache of hamstrings left
On mossy hillside rock
Giulietta Verdon-Roe is a London-based documentary photographer and filmmaker whose work concentrates on long-term projects, often exploring social and environmental issues, as well as commercial and editorial commissions that take place at home and abroad.
After receiving a BA degree in English Literature at Newcastle University, Verdon-Roe moved to New York City to study Photography at ICP. Graduating she worked as photographer and assistant Photo Editor at the Village Voice, America’s then largest weekly newspaper. She then worked as a Black and White Printer to Master Printer Teresa Engle Moreno.
Since 2007, Verdon-Roe has been commissioned internationally on documentary film and photographic projects, from the Philippines, India, Russia and all the way to the South Pacific, but throughout this time she has always tried to work on long-term personal projects within the UK.
In 2013, Verdon-Roe completed an MA in Documentary Film at London College of Communication (LCC). These and other new film work have been screened at locations such as the Hackney Picture House, BFI and on BBC3’s channel BBC Fresh; specifically to highlight the work of upcoming film Directors.
Verdon-Roe is now working with Tartaruga Press, a small independent publisher, based in London to print the first book [Scotland/England] of the two part series where Verdon-Roe traversed both English borders of the UK on foot.
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