One in every 15 people on earth live within the Yangtze watershed. The Yangtze is a central character in a struggle between man and nature. For millennia this mighty river, China’s longest, has been a source of life as well as destruction through catastrophic floods and droughts. A series of dams including the gargantuan Three Gorges Dam are China’s ongoing attempt to bring this river to heel.
This work will survey the ten provinces through which the Yangtze River passes, from its source - a remote glacial lake in the Qinghai-Tibet plateau - to its industrialised delta with Shanghai at its mouth. The bright sunshine of the upper reaches gives way to a pollution haze, a symptom of China’s unprecedented economic boom. Between these two extremes, I have been drawn to quiet and introspective moments shared between the river and those drawn to it in places wholly unfamiliar to most non-Chinese: such as the ethnic minority enclaves in the mountains of Yunnan, with their border-town-feel, to the grey industrial river cities of Anhui, each thousands of miles apart.
The entire project has been shot on an out-of-production panoramic film camera. This cinematic format forces me to slow down the process and make each frame more meditative. I am undertaking this work to try to come to a more intimate understanding of the country in which I have lived for seven years. I have never ceased to marvel at how fast China erases the old and replaces it with a futuristic new without a whiff of nostalgia. So much has already been lost and I am compelled to document what remains before it vanishes, unremembered.