The Beach Hut on the East Anglia coast: a visual analysis since 1945
Prof GM Hardie
Dr L Purbrick
Aims of Investigation
To produce a visual analysis and historical document of the beach hut on the East Anglia coast in book format that reflects upon the practice of landscape and documentary photography.
To develop a notion of 'place' in cultural geography in relation to the beach hut, and to investigate to what extent the photographic image can present 'a sense of place'.
To investigate what affect local, national and international economics and politics, since 1945, has had on the development of beach hut communities in relation to leisure, tourism, and home ownership on the East Anglia coast, in order to place the beach hut of today in historical context.
I will be employing three distinct research methodologies:
- Visual research–photography, typography, structure, and an understanding of sequential book design. Through my photographs and practice as a Graphic Designer various forms of understanding of the beach hut will be revealed.
- Oral histories and interviews – the transcripts will evidence the human memories, perception, and experience of the beach hut from both users and non-users, as well as within the wider context of the local environment. A summary of the transcripts will define 'what the essence of place is'.
- Archival research – I will place the new research in context to its past.
The coast of East Anglia, its geography and its people, and the space between land and sea which is always on the edge of constant change, is a vulnerable and fragile stretch of coast that consists both of densely populated, brash and busy seaside resorts, and desolate and eerie marshland estuaries.
The beach hut communities that exist in such contrasting locations are of particular interest to me, their use, the user and the location being as vulnerable and fragile as the geography itself. Beach huts are symbolic of the English seaside, a place to escape from reality and for realising an ideal, they belong to memories of childhood lost and ‘memories' of childhood never experienced.
The region of East Anglia is well recorded in both words and pictures with regard to leisure, tourism and the landscape, but little has been said of the 'place' of the beach hut and the communities to which they belong.