Sharps Only

One of my ‘stranger’ on going projects is called ‘Sharps Only’ and is a documentary series investigating social tolerance on the presence of sharps and needle disposal bins in public toilets.

The idea first came about while out ‘taking pictures’ as myself and a friend always used to do.  While out I needed the loo and so used the nearest public one, when I walked in I found what could only be described as a mail box on the wall, painted yellow and with the words ‘Sharps Only’ written on it in black letters.

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Portchester Castle – The First One

At first this didn’t trigger the project it was only when out photographing again on another occasion when I found one more glaringly obvious.  A public toilet block where each cubicle opened out on to the street, the interior was an entirely stainless steel finish with quite literally a hole in the wall with an engraved sign reading ‘Needles’.  This was the trigger and I started returning to these locations to photograph them using a medium format roll film camera and hunting for them wherever I went.  When I returned to the stainless steel cubicles I chose one at random finding that the particular example had ‘go and die drug taking arseholes’ penned on the wall.

Gosport
Gosport – ‘go and die drug taking arseholes’

I define the project as an investigation of social tolerance because I feel that it creates elements of discussion and various opinions and feelings in different people.  Many peoples instant reaction is that of the individual armed with a permanent market, that the users are drug users.  One of the bins I’ve ‘captured’ was informed to me by a diabetic friend who knew where it was to dispose of his needles.  From another angle, as a parent, many of the examples have been found next to or near beaches.  My children playing on a beach are likely not to be wearing shoes; they need the loo, so you take them.  I’d feel far happier my children running in to a room with bare feet if there was somewhere safe for such paraphernalia to be disposed of safely.  The ultimate reality is that you will never stop drug use entirely but if we facilitate it’s use we can make the world safer for the innocent individuals stopping them from being caught up in it along the way.

A Road Petrol Stations at Night – an award winning, critically acclaimed documentary photography piece

One of my many on going projects has been ‘A Road Petrol Stations at Night’, a study of the non-place and world of the night time service area.  My initial interest in these places came about after reading ‘Non-Places’ by Marc Auge but what is a non-place? A non-place is anywhere we as people occupy for a temporary amount of time, they are built and made for us but we don’t live there.  Examples of non-places include supermarkets, airports, hotels and, of course, service stations.

The A Road service area at night is very much a non-place and emerge from the deep darkness that comes from night time driving.  The visual style of the photographs was to create this expanse of negative space using the dark of the night, isolating the subject and making it feel both secluded but also welcoming and safe.

The series is constantly growing and all the photographs so far have been shot using a large format technical camera using 5×4″ colour film (Kodak Portra 160).

Further exploration of non-places

I’ve started experimenting with an idea I’ve had for a while.  One of my many on going projects has been ‘A Road Petrol Stations at Night’, a study of the non-place and world of the night time service area.  My initial interest in these places came about after reading ‘Non-Places’ by Marc Auge but what is a non-place? A non-place is anywhere we as people occupy for a temporary amount of time, they are built and made for us but we don’t live there.  Examples of non-places include supermarkets, airports, hotels and, of course, service stations.

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A27 Westbound – Copyright Andrew Paul Hayward 2014-

The A Road service area at night is very much a non-place and emerge from the deep darkness that comes from night time driving.  The visual style of the photographs was to create this expanse of negative space using the dark of the night, isolating the subject and making it feel both secluded but also welcoming and safe.

Although distinctly less isolated, my attention has shifted in this side project to similar service areas found in and around where we live.  Set aside from the A Road service stations, these images are a documentary exploration.  The original series of images can be found here.