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Thames: Dark River, Still Shining

Oxford, UK – May 2013. River Thames at dusk


Thames: Dark River, Still Shining, photo essay by Tom Farmer

“From the dim woods on either bank, Night’s ghostly army, the grey shadows, creep out with noiseless tread to chase away the lingering rearguard of the light, and pass, with noiseless, unseen feet, above the waving river-grass, and through the sighing rushes; and Night, upon her sombre throne, folds her black wings above the darkening world, and, from her phantom palace, lit by the pale stars, reigns in stillness” – Jerome K. Jerome – Extract from “Three Men In A Boat”

These images, taken along the course of the River Thames, offer a small glimpse of how the river is inextricably linked to the communities who inhabit the surrounding area. Physically, emotionally and spiritually the river weaves its way through the southern heart of England carrying with it the collective history of a nation. Rich in culture and heritage the river has been the scene of many a spectacle from Royal traditions to industrial innovations, yet it remains a wholly communal river, an inspiration to artists and musicians, a river of leisure, of sport and a place people call home. These images are a meditation on a collective connection to the Thames and they reflect the diversity of community and tradition found along the route of the river.

Q&A with Tom Farmer

Photography is…
Frustrating, addictive and euphoric all at the same time. For me it is part of who I am and what I do, but deeper than that taking pictures is a necessary cathartic experience, it is my portal for interacting with strangers and exploring new places, and a way for me to express myself.

Photography and writing…
Sometimes go very well together and sometimes compete with each other, its a fine balance between providing information to give the pictures context but also being able to create a feeling and set a tone or mood for a project or group of images.

Who left the biggest impression on you?
Probably my Granddad he fought in the British Army in Burma during WW2, he was there for 5 years away from my Grandmother and must have experienced terrible things but he never talked about it. I wish I could speak to him now, as an adult, about his experiences.

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Oxford, UK – May 2013. Geoff working on the hull of a boat in Salters’ boat yard

Watchfield, Oxfordshire, UK – September 2012. Chris practicing the Harp in a house he built himself from straw bales. Chris is a practicing Pagan and Baird, meaning ‘Storyteller’. In 2005 he rowed the length of the Thames in a Coracle, which is an ancient Celtic round boat

Kelmscott, Oxfordshire, UK – June 2014. Swan Wings

Lechlade, Gloucestershire, UK – November 2013. Luke and his boat, which had just been removed from the water for the first time in 10 years. Luke has lived on the boat all that time, roaming the upper reaches of the Thames

Lechlade, Gloucestershire, UK – March 2012. Lechlade Marina which is the uppermost navigable point on the Thames for habitable craft. It has space for over 60 boats and has a mixed community of people who moor up all year around and those who use it as a base for repairs or to shelter over the winter

Shillingford, Oxfordshire, UK – June 2014. Cornelia in the gardens of Bridge House, a Christian community retreat on the banks of the Thames

Southbank Centre, London, UK – March 2013.

Pangbourne, Berkshire, UK – July 2013. During a short heatwave a canoeist takes a break among lilly pads

Chiswick, London, UK – March 2014. At very low tide it is possible to walk from the mainland to Chiswick Eyot, an island in the middle of the Thames

Gravesend, UK – May 2013. The Promenade Cafe

Gravesend, UK – May 2013. Two Afghan brothers who had arrived in the UK only two weeks before to claim Asylum

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