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Collection: 36 Minutes in Cambridgeshire

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Project Brief

This project was born from an idea to produce a set of photographs that followed a straight line. The images would go through, over and under what ever came in the path of the camera’s lens.

Two other factors influenced its development. Firstly, the Year of the Artist residencies – proposed for unusual places which would bring art to new audiences – and the celebrations for the new millennium which highlighted the Meridian Line and its route through Cambridgeshire.

The Meridian Line is the zero line of longitude (0°00'). A residency here would be a ‘virtual’ residency – it is, after all, an imaginary line running from the North Pole to the South Pole – which would involve people and communities throughout Cambridgeshire, many in isolated locations.

As the crow flies, some forty two miles of the Meridian Line runs through Cambridgeshire – from the Royston by-pass (A505) in the south (latitude 52 degrees 03 minutes north) to Cole's Bridge on the Lincolnshire border on the north (52 degrees 39 minutes north).

Along the Line there are settlements dating back to the Bronze Age; a Roman causeway and river navigations; Fen drains; the old coaching routes to London and York; wartime defences; railways, and the Fen links roads constructed in the 1970s – all have imposed their indelible mark on the landscape and communities of Cambridgeshire.

The Line intercepts all of the county’s major rivers – the Cam, the Great Ouse and the Nene – and the major Fen drains: Vermuden’s Drain (Forty Foot), Fenton Lode (Twenty Foot) and the North Level Drain. It crosses the Cambridge to London railway line, the disused Cambridge–St Ives line and the March to Peterborough line. It intercepts the A505, A10, A603, A428, A14, A141 and the A47.

Now heralded as ‘Silicon Fen’, the county will have to cope with being the fastest growing in the country and a population influx of 150,000 people over the next 20 years. This will have to be accommodated with more change. Documenting Cambridgeshire as it is now is an important exercise as the pace of change accelerates.

In October 1999, the Year of the Artist residencies were announced and I made my application. In anticipation of success, I began to make preliminary pictures, learning the landscapes around the Meridian Line and discovering the obstacles that I would have to overcome.

The residency was confirmed in January 2000 and my proposals to not only make pictures but to host a series of workshops with communities on the Line were underway.

The project posed technical challenges and shooting strictly along the Line imposed a discipline upon the compositions. The Meridian Line runs north–south, whereas the sun moves across the sky east–west. The disciplined way of shooting, which I adopted, denied photographing sunrise and sunset directly. There were also difficulties photographing south along the Line because for long periods of the day, especially in winter, you are shooting straight into the sun. I exploited this using any available cloud cover as a kind of large lens hood.

The Wisbech & Fenland Museums supported my application and offered me gallery space, as well as their assistance. I have also had the pleasure of working with ADeC and the Babylon Gallery in Ely.

As I look at the collection of images, I am very pleased with the result. There was so much enthusiasm around the county for what I was doing from the people whose homes, land or businesses straddled the Line. Working together we were able to pinpoint the correct locations for the photographs. There was a lot of pride, too, that the Line ran across their land.

The hardest part of putting the show together has been editing the collection of pictures to the final 37, one for every minute of latitude in Cambridgeshire.

  • 0°00' longitude, 52°03N' latitude, Embankment, Royston Bypass, Cambridgeshire, 2001
    Photograph by Richard Heeps.  A deep blue sky sits over a dry embankment.
    Regular price
    $97.00
    Sale price
    $97.00
  • 0°00' longitude, 52°07N' latitude, Retreat (6x7), Orwell, Cambridgeshire, 2001
    Photograph by Richard Heeps.  A foggy scene in Orwell, a leafless tree sits beside an empty road.
    Regular price
    $97.00
    Sale price
    $97.00
  • 0°00' longitude, 52°10N' latitude, Lady Tee Marker, Meridian Golf Club, Cambridge, 2000
    Photograph by Richard Heeps.  A slightly battered Lady Tee Marker fills the picture standing on the grass with blurred trees and sky in the background.
    Regular price
    $97.00
    Sale price
    $97.00
  • 0°00' longitude, 52°14N', Scarecrow, Dry Drayton, Cambridgeshire, 2001
    Photograph by Richard Heeps.  A scarecrow in a snowy fen field, dressed in a red jumper and blue jeans.
    Regular price
    $97.00
    Sale price
    $97.00
  • 0°00' longitude, 52°17N' latitude, Chapel, Swavesey, Cambridgeshire 2000
    Photograph by Richard Heeps.   A small bunch of red flowers sit in a white vase in front of a coloured glass window.
    Regular price
    $97.00
    Sale price
    $97.00
  • 0°00' longitude, 52° 19N' latitude, Feather, Mare Fen, Cambridgeshire, 2000
    Photograph by Richard Heeps. This photograph captures a single white feather caught up on the grass of Mare Fen in Cambridgeshire.
    Regular price
    $97.00
    Sale price
    $97.00
  • 0°00' longitude, 52° 19N' latitude, Teasel, Mare Fen, Cambridgeshire, 2000
    Photograph by Richard Heeps. A Teasel sits on a water logged fen with the vast fen sky glinting around.
    Regular price
    $97.00
    Sale price
    $97.00
  • 0°00' longitude, 52°29N' latitude, Plough, Copalder Corner, Cambridgeshire, 2001
    Photograph by Richard Heeps.  A plough sits in the middle of a fen field in the sunrise.
    Regular price
    $97.00
    Sale price
    $97.00
  • 0°00' longitude, 52°31N' latitude, Lifebuoy, Potato Factory, Flood's Ferry Bridge, Cambridgeshire, 2000
    Photograph by Richard Heeps.  A lifebuoy sits hanging behind a wire fence. Water and a cloudy sky are blurred behind.
    Regular price
    $97.00
    Sale price
    $97.00
  • 0°00' longitude, 52°35N' latitude, Combine Harvester, Wisbech St Mary's Wash, 2001
    Photograph of Richard Heeps.  A yellow combine harvester is bathed in golden light with a blue sky behind.
    Regular price
    $97.00
    Sale price
    $97.00
  • 0°00' longitude, 52°35N' latitude, Wisbech St Mary's Wash, 2000
    Photograph by Richard Heeps. A prominent piece of stubble on a snowy field, framed by a wooden gate.
    Regular price
    $97.00
    Sale price
    $97.00
  • 0°00' longitude, 52°35N' latitude, Wisbech St. Mary's Wash, Cambridgeshire, 2001
    Photograph by Richard Heeps.  A line of golden grass pokes up from fen water.
    Regular price
    $97.00
    Sale price
    $97.00
  • 0°00' longitude, 52°35N' latitude, Frozen Potato, Wisbech St Mary's Wash, 2000
    Photograph by Richard Heeps. A lone frozen potato sits on a frosty field.
    Regular price
    $97.00
    Sale price
    $97.00
  • 0°00' longitude, 52°35N' latitude, Twig, Wisbech St Mary's Wash 2000
    Photograph by Richard Heeps.  A piece of frosty stubble sits in a snowy fen field.
    Regular price
    $97.00
    Sale price
    $97.00
  • 0°00' longitude, 52°37N' latitude, Frozen Carrot, Black Drove, Cambridgeshire 2001
    Photograph by Richard Heeps. A lone frosty carrot sits on a peaty fen field.
    Regular price
    $97.00
    Sale price
    $97.00
  • 0°00' longitude, 52°38N', Dew, Parsons Drove, Cambridgeshire, 2000
    Photograph by Richard Heeps.  The early morning dew on green grass.
    Regular price
    $97.00
    Sale price
    $97.00
  • 0°00' longitude, 52°39N' latitude, Fox Trap, Colesbridge Farm, Cambridgeshire, 2001
    Photograph by Richard Heeps.  A fox trap sits on a field in the snowy fenland of Cambridgeshire.
    Regular price
    $97.00
    Sale price
    $97.00
  • Tussock II, Wicken, 2002
    Photograph by Richard Heeps. A tussock is central to this photograph, black and reflected black into the fenland water below. The sky behind is dusky and atmospheric.
    Regular price
    $97.00
    Sale price
    $97.00
  • Reeds - Wicken Lode, Wicken, 2002
    Photograph by Richard Heeps. Reeds stand tall and reflect down onto the water with a setting sun behind them.
    Regular price
    $97.00
    Sale price
    $97.00
  • Tussock, Wicken, 2002
    Photograph by Richard Heeps. A tussock of grass sits at dusk in fenland water. It is siting under a black and white cloud formation with a golden dusk hue.
    Regular price
    $97.00
    Sale price
    $97.00