Rhiannon Adam has won the Energy for Change: Fractured Stories commission. She will now work on capturing the untold stories surrounding fracking in the UK for an exclusive British Journal of Photography commission, supported by Ecotricity.
Fracking is a divisive social, political and environmental subject. It has long been a major issue across the US; over 100,000 oil and gas wells have been drilled and fracked in the country since 2005. The UK has large shale gas reserves, but not a single well has been fracked since a ban on the process was lifted in 2013. This year, however, has seen renewed efforts by the UK government to encourage the development of drill test sites throughout England.
Photographically, this subject presents a challenge. Fracking takes place below ground; the process involves pumping a mixture of water, sand and chemicals at high-pressure deep underground to break apart rock, and extract natural gas and oil. Although the volume of shale gas in the UK that can be technically recovered is unknown, in 2013, David Cameron stated that if just 10 percent of the known reserves were extracted, this would provide the equivalent of the country’s total gas needs for 51 years.
“Local opposition to fracking is simply being ignored – it’s the most unpopular energy source ever, but it’s being forced on people by the government,” explains Dale Vince, OBE, founder of Ecotricity.
Fractured Stories offers a unique opportunity for Rhiannon to develop her own creative approach to documenting fracking in the UK. Looking beyond the headlines, the series will approach the subject from a new perspective.
The project period will last six weeks, from mid-August to the end of September 2018.
The resulting body of work will stand as a visual record of this complex and, in many ways, imperceptible subject-matter.