Commonplace is a celebration of the unloved and the overlooked; an assertion that the mundane and banal can be worthy of our contemplation and appreciation.
Ordinary places are important too. They reveal things about us and the way we live now, and have lived before. They aren’t so carefully managed; the cracks are visible in the façade.
Seeing the visual potential in the everyday is liberating. Everything is a potential subject. Hierarchies are flattened and meanings are exposed that were hidden from us in plain sight.
Formally, the commonplace can even be beautiful. Muted planes under an overcast sky; shapes interlocking and lines diverging. The camera composes and separates the mundane from reality, presenting it in a frame and inviting a closer look. In the process the scene becomes at once familiar and strange. A representation and an abstraction, and somehow compelling.
I’m a documentary landscape photographer based in Hampshire, UK. I’m fascinated in what ‘place’ reveals about us: the way we live, where we’ve come from and where things might be heading.
I’m obsessed by the banal and the ordinary: unplaces, edgelands, peripheral spaces and accidental arrangements.
Photography has an uncanny ability to render these unseen places somehow fascinating, both from a purely formal point of view, and because they reveal cultural artefacts which are often hidden from more carefully constructed and manufactured ‘scenes’.
I am also drawn to postwar modernist architecture: faded brutalism and concrete housing developments from a more optimistic era.
© text and pictures by Tom Westbury
You can pre-order Commonplace book here