New photographic project focuses on the history of Peacehaven.
University of Brighton Faculty of Arts photography lecturer and researcher, Julia Winckler’s new project about the town of Peacehaven, East Sussex, is attracting local media attention.
Winckler, who teaches on the BA (Hons) Photography course and the MA Creative Media has thousands of photographs that she has collected and taken herself over the past ten months for the project, provisionally titled Plotlands on the Edge of Britain.
The project explores modernist development ideas underpinning the building of Peacehaven, known as the Garden City by the Sea. The town was an early 20th century architectural venture by developer, Charles Neville who had previously lived in Toronto where he studied North American urban infrastructures before moving to Australia for several years to work in property development. He founded the town (initially called Anzac on Sea) in 1916 for British ex-servicemen and women returning from the Great War and overseas postings across the Empire, who were enticed by grand narratives and futurist visions deployed in order to sell-off the plots.
Winckler has made many research visits to the East Sussex County Council archives where she has been granted full and exclusive access to the estates of local collectors, Malcolm Troak and Bob Poplett, both of whom amassed a wealth of information and documents about early Peacehaven. These include blueprints, guides, directories, photographs, published and unpublished material, relating to the early history of the town. Through her research, Winckler has forged strong links with archivists, librarians, and several local councillors and has mapped out the locations of old style homes, built by the South Coast Land and Resort Company in the early 1920s and 1930s. Her own expanding archive comprises contemporary images of a vast range of original bungalows and shops.
Winckler said: “I live in Peacehaven in a house which originally belonged to my great aunt. Objects found in the house itself have been the starting point for previous projects such as Traces/Spuren. My interest in the origins of the town have been germinating over a number of years.
“Exploring the area, I have spotted some quite unique houses with porches, verandas and other interesting features and strongly feel that at least some of the original pioneer bungalows ought to be preserved.”
Winckler hopes that it will be possible for a local history museum to be set up. She is currently planning an arts event based on the material and, early next year, reworked images of the bungalows will be projected on to the cliffs. She also hopes to involve sections of the local community with the project, including school children and residents from nursing homes who have memories of the town in its early days.
The BBC recently interviewed Winckler about her work on its regional Inside Out programme as well as on BBC Sussex radio and the Brighton Argus is shortly due to publish a feature.