Format Editions are pleased to announce our latest book, Towpath, by photographer Paul Walsh.
“The Basingstoke Canal and Wey Navigation runs for almost 60 miles throughout the regions of Hampshire and Surrey. When built in the 18th century, it was intended to provide a transport route to and from London via the Thames, however the success of the local railway led to its commercial failure.
“A series of owners struggled to make the canal a financial success and the dream of extending the waterway to the south coast never materialized. After just forty years it began to fall into disrepair and has been on decline ever since. Although in recent years effort has been made to reconstruct the canal as a recreational space, parts of it still lie derelict and large sections have been bulldozed over for the construction of the motorway.”
“In this series, I have mapped my walking journey along the canal from the perspective of the towpath, where canal men and draught horses once walked. I attempted to capture the change in scenery, as the man-made structure of the canal becomes lost to its surrounding wilderness. My empirical journey draws attention to the history and memory inherent in the landscape, whilst reflecting on the canal’s melancholy and untameable beauty.
“Towpath aims to challenge our classical notion of the English picturesque landscape by offering a portrait of a failed industrial space in the process of redefining itself. It encourages us to consider the consequence of man’s impact on the landscape, whilst drawing attention to the canal’s volatile condition and uncertain future.”
We chose a landscape format to compliment the photography, and neutral green cloth covering and endpapers to match the natural colours in Paul’s images. The book is lay flat swiss bound, allowing the images to lie completely flat. A route map was created at the back to show the path of the two canals. The choice of typefaces is a nod to both mapping and the industrial nature of the canals’ past.