The M6

Article Text

The M6

In the North West of England, the M6 motorway connects the north of the region to the south. In the northern part of this region, it passes through some of the spectacular parts of North Lancashire & Cumbria.
It is a vital road connection for Cumbria, allowing traffic to pass in all weather conditions and at all hours of the day, through the Lune Gorge past the Howgill Fells over the moors to Shap summit and to the Northern Lakes, Blencathra then onwards to Scotland. The motorway is now an integral part of the local landscape, snaking its way through and having to split apart in places to form two sections and find the easiest gradients.
On the way it passes roadside artefacts, which go un-noticed to those passing. Old plastic bags blowing in the wind, rubbish lit brightly by the winter sunshine , ancient stones, a canal, pipework, wind-turbines, not to mention various animal or vegetative objects, which support the local life.
When we travel on the motorway it can be difficult to comprehend the entity that we are involved with and to appreciate what we are passing, as we pursue our objective of reaching our destination, determined to get there, whatever the weather. With our inner restlessness and inherent desire to be always somewhere else, we concentrate our efforts on our driving and upon the vehicles around us. From our viewpoint we have a single, monotonous aspect of tarmac.
But there are red cars which stand out against the grey of the tarmac surface set against the landscape and we maybe don’t notice the arrangement and colour of vehicles, which often match or complement the dominant blue colour of the signs.
Junctions have a particular fascination. They are decision points analogous to those decisions point we need to make in life. We pass signs which tempt us to leave the motorway and explore Kendal, Sedbergh or the western parts of the Lake District, or to keep driving onward. But they also have an excitement relating to the anticipation of “being almost there”.
These photographs try to redress the balance, in favour of the remarkable piece of civil engineering which is the M6 motorway.

My approach to the M6 photographic project;

The RPS North Western Contemporary Photography Group identified the M6 as a common link between its members.
I have concentrated upon the stretch in Cumbria, as this is the section to which I live closest, and it makes it practical to revisit the same or adjacent locations, in my attempt to discover more about the M6.
I am enjoying the process of exploring a particular subject and learning more about it as I progress.
I have also noticed that my approach to taking the photographs has changed subtly, from having set ideas about the images that I want to make, to being more observant and open minded about what I see.
And I’m fascinated by the preponderance of blue lorries.

John S Corbett LRPS