Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Communal facilities

click photo to enlarge
Looking at this amphitheatre focussed on the bandstand at Stanley Park, Blackpool, one is reminded of a time when people came together in parks for shared enjoyment of a free event. This happens less today, largely due to the increased wealth of individuals and the charged events that now take precedence.

It seems that the richer a society becomes the more leisure becomes a paid for, individual pursuit. Once we are in a position to afford the price of admission, have a car to transport us, and have bought the consumer durables to entertain us at home, the need for shared, free, communal facilities declines. There is a debate in the UK at the moment about the proper purpose of public libraries, with many saying that they must widen their brief into computers, cafes, and other attractions - or die. Communal washing, even in the form of the launderette, has disappeared from many communities as people have equipped their home with the necessary machinery. The UK's "community centres", village halls and other public rooms, are similarly in decline, and where they aren't it's usually down to the energy of a few individuals who make the centre a focus for shared activities. The glue that holds a society together is made to a complex formula, but it includes experiences in common, provided by and enjoyed alongside, the people where we live. We forget this at our peril.

I took today's photograph on an early November afternoon with long shadows as the sun was low in the sky. A wide zoom lens allowed me to place the freshly painted, domed bandstand at the top left, in the embracing curve of the tiered concrete. The light coloured lines in the steps helped to draw the eye to the focal point, and I made sure I stood at the end of one. I think the photograph works best in black and white due to the light colour of the bandstand. A red filter was used to increase the contrast of the scene.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen