I remember the beach from my childhood as a place where the pristine sand either burned my feet during the day or cooled them mercifully at night. The dunes were favorable for hiding, as well as the sharp blades of grass that formed a kind of gate to the seashore. On mornings where the sea was almost motionless, I could stand in the fog and feel the water and sand have no distinct boundary. Sandwiches were brought out during exhausting volleyball games during the day, and pancakes were ready to be eaten when I came back. The factory nearby was far enough not to be of daily notice, but there was still an innate sense of of malice that emanated from its black smoke.
One day, a family friend asked me and a few other children to come with him to clean up the beach. No matter how many times he told us that it was a wonderful thing to do for the beach, I was not enthused. Even when I picked up the plastic bottles and discarded papers, I didn’t see the point of doing it. I had never taken notice of the trash before, and it was farther away from where I usually walked.
Andy Hughs’s photography, which focuses on trash on the beach, provides that adult perspective. In his statement, he says the underlying current behind his work is to reflect how industry and commerce are affecting the environment. For me, his philosophy is a little too contrived, not only because his images speak for themselves and have great creative value on their own, but also he says that “the perspective of these photographs conveys a sense of unrestricted freedom and transports us momentarily back into our childhood.” Just because he takes the pictures from down below, doesn’t mean that a child would view them as such. Indeed, a child would see quite the opposite, from a perspective that doesn’t judge or connect anything to a global problem, but simply accepts what is already there first.
Someday, I hope to go back to the beach that I remember, and take some photographs of that pale sand and blades of grass.