In Pictures

Marking the coastline of Britain

Navigate #I 2016 Image copyright PAul Thompson

British artist Paul Thompson has spent the past three years photographing navigation markers on the shores of Britain.

These markers are often overlooked by beachgoers and Thompson admits to walking past them hundreds of times without paying them any attention.

"I grew up on the North East coast and I have no memories of ever having seen them as a child," says Thompson. But once aware, he set out to record them, making each one central to the frame.

Navigate #III 2016 Image copyright Paul Thompson

The pictures are taken at sunset, using a large format film camera, with exposure times ranging between one and eight seconds.

"In that time, I have little control over what happens," says Thompson. "The light at dusk is unpredictable. The tide is constantly in motion. The only thing that doesn't change is the marker itself."

Thompson spent many days and weeks seeking out the markers, which warn approaching vessels of concealed rocks at the ends of jetties, helping them into harbour.

Navigate #IX 2016 Image copyright Paul Thompson

"The form and composition of the Navigate photographs mirror my own experience making them," says Thompson.

"When I wander the beach at golden hour, watching for last light, I am at peace with the rolling of the waves. Tomorrow, the tide might come and wash us all away but for now, at least, we rest."

Navigate by Paul Thompson can be see at Wren London, 21 March to 17 May. You can see more of Thompson's work on his website.

Navigate #XIII Image copyright Paul Thompson
Navigate #VI 2016 Image copyright Paul Thompson
Navigate #VIII Image copyright Paul Thompson

All photographs by Paul Thompson, Courtesy Wren London.