The subjects of the Playground series are deconsecrated stretches of forgotten and unkempt land shrouded by neglect and considered a refuge for rebellious teenagers who wreak havoc on its soil.
The landscape is characterized by uneven patches of mud curling and hardening over the sides of destroyed automobiles and decayed garages long overdue for a new coat of paint. Hidden by a veil of unruly and overgrown flora, the sites remain a secret from the average passerby, yet remain holy ground for the children of the apocalypse who gather there to destroy abandoned automobiles and meditate before the blaze. An ironic title, Playground for Ali Richards is the site where innocence has long been lost and is a location caught in a Darwinian purgatory where nature continues to exist despite the destruction that the land inspires.
“I first saw a burnt out car from the window of a train to London from the country suburbs. The route navigated slowly from natural to urban horizons, providing an elevated viewpoint to examine these hidden spaces. Once I identified these ‘hotspots’ of seclusion (which were difficult to get to and not easily visible) I started to look for them on maps and limited the sites to ones on the outskirts of London. The problem was, that simultaneous with the start of the series, the price of scrap metal went up and it became harder and harder to find the cars. Local travelers and the city council, would tip me off before they went to collect one and then it became a race to document it before it disappeared. The experience changed the romantic notion of the cars laying dormant to be reclaimed by the environment and rediscovered.”
“I hope that our landscapes continue to provide new spaces for the expression of opposition.”
“I want my work to represent the moments of an ageless concept, of death and rebirth—reflective to our times.”
“My greatest fear is living in a controlled state where all spaces and persons are accounted for with no opportunity for discovery, diversity or change.”
All images © Ali Richards