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Work / Photography

Photographer Max Colson captures the plant life in the UK’s most secure places

Hide and Seek aims to capture the inscrutable way plants are used in securitised public areas across the UK. Cataloguing various forms of fauna, we see the green phantoms masking fire exits, peeking out from columns and stood in pairs like two burly guards. To create the project, Max Colson “worked” with “alter-ego” Adam Walker-Smith: “He’s a photojournalist who in his quest to document these ‘suspect’ plants, increasingly shows signs of not being able to differentiate between those that are part of the security architecture and those which aren’t,” explains Max.

Saturated and full of contrasting concrete, the images feel like paparazzi shots, as though they’ve been captured quickly so as not to draw attention. Most of the places photographed are privatised public spaces, often controlled by commercial land developers intent on using rigorous security measures. For Adam Walker-Smith it was the way security apparatus and other crime prevention elements are introduced into these places that really intrigued him. “As security and surveillance architecture is increasingly blended into the built environment in ever more innocuous and seamless ways, how difficult it is for us to find it in the environment around us,” Max explains.

“I also wanted to raise awareness of this specific way of designing crime free environments using plants,” Max says. This can be seen in other urban spaces where greenery is surreptitiously placed to give areas an identity and perhaps feel a little less intimidating. Whether the plants are decorative or actually hiding something, the mystery adds a fantastic weirdness to the series.

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Max Colson: Hide and Seek

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Max Colson: Hide and Seek

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Max Colson: Hide and Seek

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Max Colson: Hide and Seek

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Max Colson: Hide and Seek

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Max Colson: Hide and Seek

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Max Colson: Hide and Seek

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Max Colson: Hide and Seek