COL- NICOLA BENFORD
NICOLA BENFORD // Anna LouiseNicola Benford (b. 1990, London, UK) graduated in 2013 with a BA (Hons) Photography from the University of Brighton and previously completed a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at the University for the Creative Arts. Nicola recently exhibited with Filter Photo Festival in Chicago, Illinois and was included in Self Publish Be Happy’s 89+ Marathon Group Show at the Serpentine Gallery in London. Nicola also exhibited in Of The Afternoon’s launch at the Underground Gallery in London, and has been featured by Darwin magazine, Intern magazine, Of The Afternoon, Plog and PeculiarBliss. Nicola continues to make work addressing her interest in the concept of aura and the aesthetics of seduction within constructed photography.
During a number of projects over the period of 2 years I found myself revisiting a place I have vague memories of but a continued sense of wonder about – Norman’s Bay a quiet, small and contained village overlooking the sea, an area that was underwater during the Norman invasion and a place that was believed to be inhabited by only smugglers and fisherman in the early 1800s.
The memories of my earlier visits to my Great Aunt and Uncle’s cottage, all begin with the same sense of excitement as we drove up on to the pebbles of the beach and the seas horizon appeared above the dashboard. Today the Bay is mostly recognised as a holiday camping resort however my visits were not often during the warmer seasons and as a child travelling to the English seaside in bad weather was a strange experience.
Mostly my recollections of these visits have become reduced to familiar events savoured for the family album; a bbq, a party, a family buffet, paddling in the sea, or a picnic. The enchantment I felt watching my Great Uncle sail out to sea on his fishing boat with the other men from the village – also my last memory of him, is one that is most vivid.
Coming from a town which I felt never engaged with a sense of community and despite my time at the village during which the sense of community is diminishing, the essence of a community spirit still lingers: through stories, archival photos and the remains of the old village shop and B&B. The history, which I admittedly romanticised as a child, I more recently uncovered in a more sinister presence.
As a result of my most recent visits I have built up a substantial amount of work depicting the landscape, community, isolation, ageing, relationships and loss but I believe it represents a larger scale of time and poses a frightening prospect for the future of small villages.