In the early 1970’s Cat Stevens wrote and sang ‘Where do the children play?‘ In the song he looked at the issue of how urbanization and technological advances where encroaching on the natural environment (more particularly, on how parks and natural settings where being abused for technological and commercial gain):
Well you roll on roads over fresh green grass.
For your lorryloads pumping petrol gas.
And you make them long, and you make them tough.
But they just go on and on, and it seems you can’t get off.
Oh, I know we’ve come a long way,
We’re changing day to day,
But tell me, where do the children play?
I take Humfrey for a walk every second day. We make our way through a park. Every time I walk through the park I am struck by the decay and the fact that no children are around to breathe life and joy into the place. I feel the neglect, decay and lifelessness of a place that should be filled with the laughter and joy of children playing.
I was telling my friend, Giaco Angelini, who is a film director, about my feelings when I walk through this park. I showed him the photograph of the park. As our conversation unfolded, we spoke of how photographs should reflect mood and emotions.
The park also has a special place in my heart, as it was in this park that my sons once had the pleasure of enjoying the freedom and laughter of play many years ago. I can clearly recall how I pushed them on the swings, collected them at the bottom of a very high slide, and played ‘hide and seek’ in the maze.
A story can be captured by a photograph. As Giaco and I shared ideas about photography, emotions and societal issues it became obvious that the above photograph needed to be edited to convey my true feelings about the park. Giaco helped me re-edit the photograph. I decided to desaturate the colour and add more grain. I added the negative space that exists next to the swings (I had originally cropped the photograph just to depict the swings and litter). As I edited the photograph, a new message was emerging. The changes helped to depict the feeling of decay; lifelessness and abandonment that I experience each time I walk through the park.
Cat Stevens sang about urban encroachment. The park at George Lea is a reflection of urban decay and neglect. If only there was a little more care taken of our environment. Decay and neglect of places, where our children used to frequent, escalates further issues. If there is no place to play; where do our children go? What will they get up to? Nurturing our children in an ecological way requires us to be role models in our own behaviour. This neglect is an adult issue. It is a reflection of how our governmental and municipal systems are fragmenting. So what will happen to our children?