Vast expansive photographs, showing the impact of Man’s activity on our planet, initially looking colourful, beautiful and very granular, but look closely – there are few people here and the impact is immense. In the window, the Dandora Landfill #3 has the colour and texture of a coral reef or a hillside covered in blossom, but the initial impression soon gives way to horror, like something from a Dracula movie, this landscape is made of plastic – tonnes and tonnes of plastic waste that is polluting our oceans, being digested by sea fish and animals and already entering the human food chain. We may well be destroyed by our own actions, and banning plastic straws is just scratching the surface of the problem…if it is not too late.
Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky’s exquisitely detailed photographs show the beauty of human impact on the landscape such as the Lithium Mines #1 in the Atacama Desert in Chile and the Phosphor Tailings Pond #4 near Lakeland in Florida, yet with sinister overtones in terms of sustainability, and with few people actually working in the landscape. The largest work, an immense photograph created from 122 exposures, shows the Carrara Marble Quarries in Italy where pure white marble has been extracted for many centuries for some of the world’s greatest buildings and sculptures from Roman times to Michelangelo’s ‘David’ and ‘Pieta’ and to a 19th century statue of Robert Burns in Dumfries, the interiors of the City Chambers in Glasgow and the rotunda of the University of Virginia in the USA.
While half of the quarries are now abandoned or exhausted, they are said to have produced more marble than anywhere else in the world.