Posted by: ameliashepherd | April 28, 2010

Passing Through – Introduction

I have recently finished Part I of my Peacehaven project. I have produced a book called ‘Passing Through’ which mixes much of the archive material I discovered during my research about Peacehaven with some of my own new work. You can read the introduction to the book below and view the book online here:

Passing Through is a book about a town called Peacehaven. Part family album, part archive cabinet, part diary; it is an explorative journey of discovery. By delving through collections of photographs, postcards, newspapers, town plans & maps, letters & articles, taped interviews, adverts & promotional materials whilst gathering new records this work re-represents the archive and consequently the town of Peacehaven by embedding itself within a larger history. It presents a rich, diverse and multi layered narrative where no single part is larger than the whole. Passing Through reflects upon the ways in which subjects are included within their own representation. It examines the role of photographs and visual information in the construction of history and memory in considering how this information is collected and used in re-representing those histories and memories, both personal and public.

In 1914 Peacehaven was just a vision. It was one man’s dream to create a seaside resort to rival that of nearby neighbouring Brighton. The then undeveloped site where Peacehaven now stands represented a rare opportunity to secure a stunning and unique coastal estate. With its orderly avenues and grid based planning it’s expansion followed a style familiar to North American developers. It is quite unlike the ‘urban-sprawl’ developments, which reflect the growth of most East Sussex seaside towns. Peacehaven’s scattering of cheap ‘homes for heroes’ expanded during the two World Wars. At the time it was something completely new and heavy national and international press meant that it attracted settlers from far and wide.

Alternating between personal and public memories Passing Through is a metaphoric journey mirroring the photographer’s own exploration of discovery. As the narratives build, they help construct a sense of place; suggesting the thought processes involved in the town-founder’s own plans and objectives. This temporal interplay alludes to the blurred boundaries existing between historical fact and personal memory. Its extension into the arrangement of the visual materials before us on the page is a reminder that the textures of real life are all the more tangible when presented to us through a personal and curated approach.

Passing Through ‘rethinks’ the archive. Within the creation of this new, re-worked collection, grounded in the reality of existing materials, we are presented with a unique collection of anthologies, each benefiting from each another’s existence. In the process of conveying one man’s vision of a ‘Garden City by the Sea’ Passing Through unearths a rich and unique catalogue of visual evidence.
With the benefit of hindsight Peacehaven acts as an idiosyncratic case study exploring and rethinking how a place is documented and represented. Looking back, perhaps Peacehaven never fulfilled its founder’s visions and dreams. But lives were lived and those that settled there created history and so it will go on with those there now and by those who will follow.



  1. Re “But lives were lived and those that settled there created history and so it will go on with those there now and by those who will follow.”

    – indeed; in 1980 my grandfather created history in Peacehaven when he achieved his 100th birthday.

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