The ‘Fence Reflections’ were photographed on Tottenham Marshes in the Lee Valley Regional Park along a waterway referred to as the Lea Diversion, which runs parallel to the Lea Navigation, where the tree reflections were taken. The Lea Diversion came into being when the course of the River Lea was altered to accommodate the large reservoirs that run northwards along the eastern side of the park. Now the re-routed river course is a mixture of natural looking river banks and concrete walls, along the top of which are metal fences. It is the reflections of such fences that was the source of inspiration for the pictures in this gallery taken in the summer of 2009. It was just after some vegetation that had been obscuring much of the fence, was cleared. This had the effect of making the image of the fence reflected in the water a much more noticeable image and was the reason I was drawn to it. The fence was a series of straight metal strips painted light grey, with gaps in between of the same width as the strips. The potential of its reflection on the water below to make visually dynamic patterns was highlighted when the surface of the water was disturbed.
The Lea Diversion does not have boats along it and so initially I thought that I would have to rely on the water birds to cause the surface activity of the water, but the location I chose, at the northern end of the Tottenham Marshes, was to produce some unexpected effects resulting in some remarkable images. The fence, which was about six feet high, was on top of a concrete wall, and the width of the water was about half that of the Lea Navigation with a grass bank and a few reeds on the side from where the photographs were taken. There were always Coots and Moorhens in the water and, in June, they were very protective of their nesting location. They became aggressive to other birds of their own species as they chased them away from their territory. Fortunately some the intruders never learnt from the experience and often strayed in too close, which gave me plenty of opportunities to take pictures. The waves of water created by this activity spread out to the grass bank and the wall on the opposite side, rebounding back and then colliding into each other in the middle. This had the effect of changing the straight geometric lines of the reflected image of the fence into organic forms.
I worked for several days when the weather was bright and sunny during which time there was hardly any wind that provided me with bright and clear reflected images to work with. The results I was getting were encouraging but the images still looked too much like the surface of water and lacked a sense of intrigue. I wanted to capture images that had lost most of their original form and yet retain echoes of their origins. This would create an image that was self-contained in its own right and invite a new interpretation from the viewer. After several days an intermittent stiff breeze had developed and the effect it had over the surface of the water was something I had not foreseen. It was to provide the final element in the transformation of the image. The breeze, as it whipped across the surface of the water, twisted the colliding ripples into circular forms and the result was visually dynamic – it was what I had been looking for. It was a fleeting moment that was soon gone, as it required the convergence of bird activity, colliding ripples and the breeze whipping across the surface of the water. A doorway had opened creating the birth of new images that were all too transient, and as a consequence, all the more precious.
David Cottridge, 2010