It’s a dull overcast day with occasional light drizzle and I’m zipping through the backstreets of Malvern about to commence my latest project; a photographic record of 1930s modernist buildings of Worcestershire (catchy title i know, but it still needs some work). Clearly I couldn’t have picked less appropriate weather to get busy with the DSLR, but finding spare time for such frivolous activities is always a challenge. So much so that it’s a constant minor frustration. No matter how much time I have, there are always far more tasks on the ever evolving to do list. It’s amazing to me how some folk can happily spend a whole Sunday lounging in front of the telly, or lose hours sapping amber nectar outside a country pub. Don’t these people have lawns to mow, cars to wash, furniture to sand down or photobooks to publish?! It would seem not.
It’s an idea that’s been bouncing around my brain like a game of pong for at least a year. In a predominantly rural county, ‘art deco’ architecture is few and far between. Those examples that do exist, while not being as impressive as say Miami or Manhattan, still stand out like beacons of a bright new future that never arrived. The short list of photogenic candidates will find me visiting establishments catering in the worlds of leisure, automotive, retail, industrial, civil and religion.
I quickly find my chosen target of today’s photo shoot; Somers Park Road Methodist Church. A striking angular red brick construction on the corner of two fairly busy residential streets in Malvern Link. It’s situated next to an earlier Edwardian church, and was built in 1936 to house the ever growing congregation.
Parking isn’t a problem and I’m quickly in place. With baby in pushchair (yes daddy daycare has reached new lows!), lens bag on back and camera around my neck we’re off to see what we can capture.
There’s no service today and both church and grounds are chained and padlocked (I assume they must be fed up with hoards of stray photographers trespassing!), leaving me no choice but to snap from the pavement. It’s not a problem as there are plenty of attractive angles to enjoy and I get busy with my kit wandering back and forth. I freely admit that the building is not as impressive as some of the more iconic heavyweights of British Art Deco architecture like Battersea or the De La Warr Pavillion, but it still has some key 30s design elements. A barrel fronted South wall protrudes from the base of the structure with plain bands of stone running parallel to the flat roofed section. Twin towers rise up either side offering entry and exit to the space. The doorways have the delightful touch of a small flight of steps with one curved level and three square. A porch on the West side has a fort-like roof line with an a-symmetrical chimney and stepped incline. Stained glass window detailing is also quite stylized and geometric, leaving me keen to return and see them illuminated from the inside.
It doesn’t take long to complete the shoot, and we’re swiftly on our way back home. Unfortunately, when I download the images onto the laptop it quickly becomes apparent that they aren’t up to scratch. When it comes to photography I’m a bit of a chancer; worry about the composition, ignore the technical side and it’ll come good in the end. Alas, today’s total lack of sunshine has robbed me of anything usable for the final project. Rendering them into black and white improves matters enough to post up here.. but I’ll have to go back again for a second attempt on a sunny day. Not to worry, I’m happy enough to have actually laid the foundation stone for the project and have given myself a target to beat next time.