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William Petitt

 Winner of the OpenBox Photography Award 2021 

Award for outstanding creative achievement and future potential in the medium of photography 


A Peculiar Horror

A Peculiar Horror examines the connections between place and memory and how the two can become so intrinsically linked that one cannot exist without the other. This series focuses specifically on the beauty spot known as Gullet Quarry near Malvern, Worcestershire, and the events surrounding its recent tragic history. William Pettit alludes to the six drownings, one suicide, and one death of unknown cause over several summers at the quarry. The series, shot during the autumn, is a reflective commentary on the days that these unfortunate victims have missed due to their lives being so dramatically cut short.

The title comes from The Times newspaper article in which poet George Bernard Shaw, a vocal critic of the quarrying in Malvern, stated that the approach to Malvern used to have ‘a peculiar charm’ and that it now has ‘a peculiar horror’. There is a duality in the use of this title as it refers to both the creation of the quarry and to the uneasy juxtaposition of recent tragedies with the idyllic beauty of the place.

William’s land-based practice subverts traditional notions of photographic documentary to create more emotive methods of documentation. Environmental consciousness is threaded throughout his practice.