Unknown Places: Photographer Polly Tootal imagines Britain without any people

Have you ever considered a world without people? In her sombre, yet beautiful series Unknown Places, London photographer Polly Tootal loves to imagine how Britain might look if it were empty.

Capturing the less celebrated corners of the UK – so nameless they are often embedded deeply into our consciousness and then forgotten – they are spaces marked with the richness of human activity, yet bereft of human presence.

Common elements hold the project together. The images often lie upon thresholds and boundaries, liminal zones, between urban and rural, leisure and industry, lived-in and discarded. Whether suburban, urban or rural, the subjects have, for the most part, been seen from the road; discovered and observed from the inside of a car. This might be another reason for the strange familiarity the images possess, their sometimes disturbing déjà vu. Warehouses, business parks, shopping centres, waste grounds, motorways, car parks: the non-places that quietly fill up our lives, the sites of transience.

Polly explains: "The universal anonymity of these photos tells another story of modern Britain. It whispers of the silences of sterilised life, the hypermodern, super-modern, whatever you want to call it illusion that history has reached an end-point, the lie that there are no more wars here, that there are no more noises to be made, no more dramas. Banality, apathy, convenience."

Polly was born in the UK and has lived and worked in London since graduating. She read Editorial Photography under Magnum photographer Mark Power at the University of Brighton and has since won the Prix Du Public Ville D’Hyeres Photographie, Association of Photographers Award; commissioned work for the Southbank Centre & Hayward Touring Exhibition London – alongside Walker Evans Photographs 1935-1936 – and has exhibited internationally. To discover more visit www.pollytootal.com.

Via direct submission | All images courtesy of the artist


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