Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The big picture / Girl in the dust, Somerset

Somerset, April 2020. Photograph: David Watts

The big picture: girl in the dust, Somerset

For photographer Dave Watts, it’s as if family life has gone back in time a little since the pandemic hit…

Tim Adams
Sunday 28 June 2020

uring lockdown, family life has sometimes established a different time and space. Dave Watts took this photograph of his daughter Minna, five, on the daily walk he and his wife, Frances, a landscape artist, have taken with their three young children. Watts and his family live on the edge of a town in Somerset, where he works as a commercial photographer, but when jobs dried up in April and the kids were home from school the days took on a less predictable, sometimes magical shape, one he has tried to capture.
“There is a network of footpaths and we fell into doing the same route every day,” he says. “Probably about a mile and a half, always quite a leisurely pace. The children got into the habit of stopping in the same places to play. Because it was at the end of such a long dry spell, this place was dusty and Minna loved that; she throws herself into being busy and messy.”
In some ways, shrinking horizons have perhaps taken children across the country back in time a little – with not much traffic on the roads, and long days to fill.
Watts started his career as a travel photographer based in London, before moving back to Somerset, near his childhood home, when his eldest child was born. The weeks of relative confinement have been a bittersweet time, he suggests – the fears and liberation of an empty schedule. The family has been sustained in part by Frances selling some work through the Artist Support Pledge. “To start with there was a lot of anxiety, with the pandemic and the lack of income, but then there were also these lovely sunny days outside with the kids,” Watts says. His pictures capture some of that contrast – the poignancy of living in the moment, and trying not to wonder what comes next.

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