Metro-land Paul Smith.
The term Metro-land was devised as a catchy marketing brand name by the Metropolitan Railway’s Publicity Department for the suburban areas north-west of London in Middlesex, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. The promotion launched for Metro-land helped blossom a huge success in the post-war 1920s when new suburban house sales around London took off as never before. Metro-land was intended to stimulate new residential development, populating these districts with middle-class commuters who would travel to and from London daily on the Metropolitan’s services. Growing from being ‘an ad man’s creative invention into a more prosaic reality in the 1920s and 1930s’, Metro-land became ‘a wistful post-war recollection from the 1950s onwards and finally a new land of personal imagination by 1980’.
It is beyond the 1980s and into the post-millennium where I take the new dawn of ‘Metro-land’ and concentrate on the construction of the new built suburbia, questioning how the land is being used to build fresh communities for the new generation of Metro-land suburban housing. The project Metro-land considers the alteration of the landscape and emerging environments that have now arisen from the same locations made up of the original Metro-land areas. Relating to the significant interchange between suburbia and open-spaces Metro-land concentrates on the newly built pseudo-modernist housing and how the transformation of land has immense importance to the development of this historical commuter area. As stated by Robert Adams; ‘all land, no matter what has happened to it, has a grace, an absolutely persistent beauty’. Taking influence from the New Topographics: Man Altered Landscapes exhibition in 1975 and shooting objectivity the Metro-land project encompasses the same ideologies of the New Topographics who did not ‘admire nor condemn’ the landscapes they created but instead make ‘quiet comments on the imperfections they observed’. Metro-land is on-going.
Paul Smith is Course Leader in Photography at Amersham and Wycombe College in Buckinghamshire. He studied for an MA in Photography at Goldsmiths College (MA in Photography and Urban Cultures), a BA (Hons) Fine Art Photomedia at Central Saint Martins and is now studying for a PhD at University of Nottingham researching the British approach to American suburban landscape (focusing on the New Topographics). His weork has been published in several Scottish magazines following a project set in Sighthill (The Soda Waste), Glasgow and at The Exit Gallery, London focusing on European landscape photography.
Selected by Emma Morris, Photoworks