Road and Rail Links Between Sheffield and Manchester is the latest book from Theo Simpson of Mass Observation and Adam Murray of Preston is my Paris. The duo, both concerned with the character and construction of our built landscape, have created a document of the distance between two cities that is “intent on encouraging discovery and investigation of the infrastructure and landscape it traverses.”
Captured in an intentionally colourless way that recalls official documents as opposed to an art project, the images are thoughtful and evenly paced – in this way Theo and Adam draw our attention to overlooked rail-/roadside architecture that we frequently pass at some speed and with little thought in an almost analytical way. We spoke to the duo briefly to hear more about the it…
Can you tell us briefly how the project came about?
Theo and I have been aware of each other’s projects for a while and both share similar interests and subject matter. However, our approach to producing publications has been quite different. So we wanted to collaborate on a project that blended our methods of working.
How would you classify this kind of documentary – are you making a public record/taxonomy or is it more critical?
The main intention with this work was to produce a document of this part of England as it is now and how we found it whilst exploring. We hope that it raises the consciousness of this area with readers and perhaps encourages people to actively engage with the different places. It was certainly not meant to have a critical point of view, but this may be one of the ways that this work is interpreted.
What is significant about the links between Sheffield and Manchester?
Part of the significance is simply that Theo lives in Sheffield and I have spent a lot of time living in the North West so it made sense to combine our respective locations. Conceptually though, these are two cities that we are both very interested in, with regards the role that they have in the country. Both have a rich industrial history and are separated by a wonderfully distinctive landscape and we wanted to create a body of work that encourages people to spend time considering this area of England.